How to make a jar terrarium

by Cat Woods

This week we have had the honour in working with the foundation learning students at Carmel college, helping them create jar terrariums as part of their sustainability project. 

A terrarium is an easy and fun way to bring the beauty of nature inside your home-especially in the winter! Screw on the lid and this terrarium makes a great gift, too!

Terrariums aren’t expensive and anyone can make them. And the best part is that you don’t need a green thumb to care for them. If you follow the instructions for making one it is virtually a self-care garden.  They are perfect for children, your kitchen counter, and adding a bit of life to your coffee table.

What you will need 

  • Succulent/Cacti Soil if using succulents or indoor soil if using mini ferns
  • Jar of any size
  • Gravel
  • Activated charcoal (necessary if you want to close the lid. It keeps the bacteria in check.)
  • Assorted moss-optional
    -Sea glass mix, colored rocks, or shells-optional
  • 1 live succulent or mini fern —or many, if you are wanting to make many terrariums 🙂


  1. Start with a clean and clear glass jar or container. Your recycling bin most likely has a good option. Other fun options would be a fish bowl, coffee pot, pickle jar, and more.
  2. Cover the bottom of the jar with a layer of pebbles or gravel for drainage.
  3. Add a small layer of activated charcoal.
  4. Add a layer of moss to help the potting soil from staying out of the charcoal layer. This is optional. if you aren’t too picky about the layered look you can skip this.
  5. Add a thick layer of potting soil. It is a good idea to get potting soil made for indoor plants if you can.
  6. Shake off the dirt that comes with the plants. Use a spoon or your hands to create the hole for your plants.
  7. Plant small ferns, succulents, or even cacti in your soil and pat it in gently. You want to keep about 1 plant per 1-inch diameter, if possible. A good resource for small plants for your terrarium is your local garden store fairy garden section. Generally, plant your largest plant first so you leave enough space for the smaller plants.
  8. Once you have your plants planted add additional moss, gravel, or decorative rocks to cover the soil.
  9. Finish with your small extra accessories, if you decide to use them.


Keep the soil in your terrarium moist by gently spraying the soil with a water sprayer. 
Keep condensation in check. Remove the lid of your jar when you see a heavy condensation in the jar. When the condensation has gone, replace the lid. 
Keep the plants deadheaded, pruned, and leaves trimmed that are yellow or brown.

If you’re interested in one of our sustainability based workshops for your college or school, please get in touch. We are on Facebook and Instagram @greentownsthelens

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