Guest Blog: Make a Terrarium by Amy the intern


Amy, one of the Indie Fixx interns, put together this easy peesy tutorial for how to make a terrarium.  I’ve been wanting to make one myself and it’s nice to know that it’s not rocket science for us house plant challenged folks – Jen.

By guest contributor Amy Anderson

It seems like I’m reading a new story about terrariums on design blogs and in magazines nearly every day. Since my family just moved into a condo and no longer have a backyard garden, I thought it would be appropriate to try my hand at terrarium making and see just what the trend is all about. The result? A project that is a low time and money commitment, but adds a little bit of the outdoors to any home. Here’s how I did it:


  • Clear jar, fishbowl, or wide-bottomed vase with or without a lid
  • Pebbles
  • Horticultural charcoal (It took me a few stops to find this. Home Depot didn’t carry it, nor did a local garden shop. I ended up getting it at a hardware store under the brand name Hoffman.)
  • Potting soil
  • Small ferns, moss, succulents and other leafy plants


  1. Pour about a one-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom of the container.
  2. Add a thin layer of charcoal on top of the pebbles.
  3. Add potting soil until the container is about 1/3 full.
  4. Organize the plants. It’s easiest to plant the largest one first so you can judge what else will fit. Finish it off with mosses and low-lying plants to cover extra space.
  5. Include inanimate objects as well—shells, figurines, and branches add some variety to the terrarium.
  6. Water or mist lightly.



  • If you make an open terrarium, it will need a small amount of watering every couple weeks or so. An enclosed terrarium requires little or no water after initial planting.
  • Keep in medium, direct sunlight.
  • Check often for bugs or dead leaves and remove immediately to prevent decay in the terrarium.

The final product was a relatively cheap way to spruce up our new condo sunroom without having to worry about keeping houseplants alive (not a strong suit in my family!). I purchased the glass containers at a thrift store for about $2 each. There’s no need for specialty terrarium jars—the thrift store had lots of glass bowls in all shapes and sizes. Just make sure containers are thoroughly washed before planting. The bags of pebbles, charcoal and soil ran about $5 each. Add the variety of plants and I made three terrariums for around $50, with extra supplies left over for next time.

For a twist to the project, I’m planning on using the rest of my materials to make mini-terrariums in bud vases. Perfect for housewarming or birthday gifts!

About the contributor: Amy Anderson is one of  the Indie Fixx interns this summer and is also a student at Northwestern University. Amy has wanted to be a journalist since she was just 5 years old and she is also into the indie design and crafting scenes as well. In addition to writing the occasional post, she also helps me coordinate Feed Your Soul: the free art project.

4 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Make a Terrarium by Amy the intern

  1. amy, this is great! i have a tendency to inflict sudden (and often violent) deaths upon any plants that i try to care for, but i think even i could manage this one. it would work really well in a college apartment, too!

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