Make your own tiny terrarium: the perfect little ecosystem

A picture of a terrarium in a glass bowl sat on a desk
Create your own terrarium

  • Difficulty
  • Cost
    < 50 £
  • Duration
    1-3 h


Bring a piece of the outdoors in by creating your own terrarium. They’re the perfect little ecosystem for your home and require minimal maintenance. It’s a brilliant way to upcycle old glass jars and vases that can be found in your home or local charity shops and bargain stores. All the other supplies can be found and bought at your local garden centre. As for the plants, the possibilities are endless, but aim for small cacti and succulents so they can easily fit into the glass containers.

You need
  • No tools needed
  • floor protector or cover sheets
  • disposable gloves
  • shovel
  • spoon
  • a clear glass jar, vase, bowl or whatever interesting glass container you can find
  • small rocks or pebbles
  • potting soil appropriate for your plants
  • activated charcoal (sometimes called activated carbon)
  • small cacti and succulents
  • items for decoration: moss, sticks, bark etc
L: Length, W: Width, H: Height, D: Diameter

Let's go - step by step

Step 1 6

Preparing the container

You need: glass container, small rocks or pebbles

Wash and clean the container ready for planting. Then start planning the arrangement of your plants. Next add your drainage layers, fill the bottom with rocks or pebbles. This helps the water settle and not flood the plants. The amount of drainage depends on the size of the container but aim for the container to have ½ drainage layers.

Step 2 6

Add the activated charcoal

A picture of people creating a terrarium
Activated charcoal helps to keep your terrarium healthy

You need: disposable gloves, activated charcoal

Just add enough activated charcoal to cover the rocks. It helps to keep your terrarium healthy and reduces fungi from growing. Be careful, activated charcoal can be messy, you may need gloves.

Step 3 6

Add the soil

A picture of someone adding soil to a cactus in a pot.
Add enough soil so the plants can grow

You need: soil

Time to add the soil, make sure to use the appropriate soil for cacti and succulents as they require different soil compared to plants grown in the garden. Add enough soil so the plant roots will have plenty of room to fit and then grow. Aim for a depth slightly greater than the height of the plant’s pot.

Step 4 6

Time to start planting

A picture of small cacti lined up in individual plant pots
Choose small cacti and succulents

You need: plants

Take your plant out of the pot and break up the hard soil ball until you get down to the roots. Then carefully place into the container, making sure it doesn’t touch the sides. Continue until all the plants are placed in the container. The add more soil around the top and compact it down around the base of the plant to ensure stays in place and can continue to grow.

Step 5 6

Add accessories

A picture of terrarium in a glass bowl
Add accessories for more of a personal touch

An optional extra- add moss, small stones, sticks or even tiny objects to really bring your terrarium to life. You can add whatever you like, the possibilities are endless.

Step 6 6

Clean and water

Finish the terrarium by cleaning the sides as it probably got messy from the soil and charcoal. Then just add a little bit of water and your new terrarium is ready to go.

  • Don’t over water your terrarium, water based on how dry the soil is.
  • Don’t place in direct sunlight as they are in glass containers that act as a little greenhouses so direct sunlight may scorch the plants. Therefore, we advise placing your terrarium in indirect light for the best results.
  • If leaves die or wilt, remove from the terrarium to maintain the health of the plants.