Create Your Own Terrarium

If you’ve been looking for a new project to try, this DIY is sure to be a great center piece for any room!

Terrariums are great for showcasing certain plants that may need very specific care. A lot of plants that go into terrariums tend to be plants that require a lot of humidity. Heavy humidity settings tend to be hard to recreate in the home, so terrariums are a really good solution to this problem. Ferns, carnivorous plants, and live moss, are all really great choices for terrariums.

I’ve seen many different types of setups and displays on the internet and have been wanting to make one for awhile. I recently purchased this beautiful glass case on Amazon. I’ve also seen different shapes and designs available as well. I chose this one specifically because it has a door. I intended to make this for my Fly Trap, so having an enclosed case to keep bugs inside was important.

Aside from the case I made sure to have a few things on hand for my build.

You will need:

  • A case of your choice such as an old fish tank, glass orbs, or enclosed glass cases
  • Plants of your choice (I used carnivorous plants)
  • Rocks, Perlite, or Pumice
  • Mesh or screens (window screens work)
  • An assortment of moss (live or preserved)
  • Sphagnum Moss (for carnivorous plants)
  • Mister
  • Distilled/Filtered water (if planting with carnivorous plants)

Types Of Plants To Use

I think it’s important to have a clear idea of what kind of plants you would like to plant and of course having them on hand. You want to make sure that you are putting plants together that have similar needs. For example, I probably wouldn’t plant my Venus Fly Traps with ferns. A major reason being that ferns need nutrients from their soil and carnivorous plants absolutely, cannot have any nutrients come from their soil. They are specialized to get nutrients from catching insects, not from their substrate.

You can choose ferns and live/preserved moss to house together, or carnivorous plants with live/preserved moss. As long as the care is similar, they can be housed together.

Making Your Layers: False Bottom

Once you have your plants, you can take your terrarium and fill it with a layer of rocks, stones, and or pumice. The point of this layer is to create a kind of water reservoir. Instead of your plants’ roots sitting in water, the water will drain down into the rocks, where it will evaporate, condensate, and then precipitate back onto the plants. This way, the terrarium is more or less self sustaining.

After this, I suggest cutting out a piece of screen or mesh that is a little bigger than the width and diameter of the terrarium. This mesh or screen, will help to keep substrate separate from the water reservoir. This is especially important when making closed terrariums. Soggy substrate will eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria and your plants may rot.


If you are planting with ferns and such, making a layer of gardening charcoal will help filter the water as it passes through to the reservoir. The charcoal is really great in filtering the water and minimizing bacterial overgrowth. After this, I would then use an indoor potting mix or peat moss soil as substrate.

If you are planting carnivorous plants, I suggest using sphagnum moss to plant with. Carnivorous plants require a substrate with little to no nutrients in it, so this type of moss is perfect. Always be sure to dampen your moss and water your carnivorous plants with distilled or filtered water only. They are very sensitive to salt, minerals, and nutrients found in water as well.

Plants and Decorations

Once you have a small layer of soil placed down, you can now start to place your plants inside. Be sure to lightly break up the soil on your plants first before placing in. Once placement is set, you can start to stabilize and cover your plants’ roots with more soil. Placing rocks, twigs, and moss around your plants are all really get things to decorate with. I also like to use crystals or mini figurines in my terrariums or dish gardens. This is the time to have fun with it!

I made my terrarium for my Venus Fly Traps, so for the next layer I used sphagnum moss dampened with distilled water. I then carefully loosened my plants’ substrate before placing into the terrarium. You can play with the placement of your plants to your liking. I then placed more dampened sphagnum moss around my plants to keep them in place. After this, I used several different types of preserved moss around my traps for decoration.


Once everything is in place you can now water. If you made a closed terrarium, adding some water will jumpstart the terrarium to be self sufficient. All there is to do next is place the lid back on and place in a semi sunny area. If your terrarium is open somewhat, you can water or mist your plants occasionally. This will help the plants retain some moisture and humidity.

For my Fly Traps, I made sure to water with distilled water and I closed the terrarium door. I will be placing my terrarium in a sunny area since Fly Traps love sun.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty fun build. I hope this wasn’t too confusing for you, and if you enjoyed it please let me know.


Little Groundwork is an online oasis documenting the everyday lessons and changes involved with cultivating a greener environment. Rooted in a love for all things nature and design, Little Groundwork hopes to spark that same passion into the hearts of many. We hope that you follow along with us and together we can learn, grow, and create a greener environment.

Leave a Reply