Adorable Mini Terrariums to Fill Your Home with Plants

minisphere
Photo: Rich Macdonald
Customize a tiny fairytale forest, desert landscape or any kind of botanical world in a jar for a cute + fun table decoration. Get inspired with these five projects!

Plants add such a special and beautiful touch to a space, but sometimes maintaining houseplants can be a bit of a hassle, particularly with a busy schedule. But there's a simple solution! Creator of Miniscapes and self-confessed "lazy gardener" Clea Cregan lays out the ultimate guide to crafting your own terrarium in her new book. They're cheap to create, super easy to maintain, and make excellent and thoughtful gifts. We've pulled a few cute projects for you to try out to get a little dirty (but not too dirty!) and introduce you to the world of terrarium-making.

Bonsai

This project is super simple and looks great with one feature plant in the spotlight. You can add cute forest creature figurines to give at a whimsical atmosphere, like the tiny deer in this one.

bonsai

What You'll Need

Basic Equipment

  • 12 in glass vase
  • 1 cup small cream pebbles
  • Brown paper (optional separation layer)
  • 1 cup dried sphagnum moss
  • 1/3 cup horticultural charcoal
  • 2 cups potting mix (or African Violet mix)

Plants

  • 1 Ficus microcarpa retusa 'Pot Belly Fig'

Decorations

  • 1 lichen-covered branch
  • 1 large rock
  • Small handful of black river pebbles
  • 1 tablespoon horticulture sand
  • 1/2 cup live moss
  • 1 deer figurine (optional)


Directions

Step 1: Give the glass a good wash inside and out.

Step 2: Pour the cream pebbles into the bottom of the vase, and gently shake to create an even layer. Add a separation layer, if using (this prevents the soil from dropping down into the drainage layer below. You can use brown paper, a fly screen, or weed matting. Trace around your container and cut out a shape that is 1/2 inch smaller than the inside o your terrarium. Place the separation layer on top of your layer of pebbles, and add a layer of compacted sphagnum moss tightly around the edge of the glass to prevent any soil from dropping through).

Step 3: Soak sphagnum moss in water for a few seconds, then squeeze out the excess water and place a thin layer firmly on top of the pebbles or separation layer. Sprinkle the charcoal evenly over the sphagnum moss.

Step 4: Add half of the potting mix to the container, creating different height levels.

Step 5: Remove the Pot Belly Fig from its pot and gently scrape away any excess soil from the roots.

Step 6: Place the plant inside the vase. Gently press the roots down into the soil and add the remaining soil to cover the roots. The tap roots can sit above the soil.

Step 7: Add the branch, large rock, black river pebbles, sand and the deer, if using. Place small clumps of moss between the rocks.

Step 8: Water the plants thoroughly with a water-spray bottle.

Care Tips

  • Pot belly figs are very hardy; they can tolerate bright indirect sunlight to low-light conditions.
  • Water regularly. If the soil is dry, slowly pour 1/2 cup water into the vase.
  • You can use any large vase to make this terrarium.
  • Keep the fig leaves clipped to encourage a bonsai-tree shape.


Jarred

Old kitchen jars are perfect for miniature terrariums! If you have a bunch lying around, this is a great way to use them.

jarred

What You'll Need

Basic Equipment

  • 10 in glass canister with lid
  • 1 cup small cream pebbles
  • Brown paper (optional separation layer)
  • 1 cup dried sphagnum moss
  • 1/3. cup horticultural charcoalcc
  • 2 cups potting mix

Plants

  • 1 Ficus benjamina 'Weeping Fig'
  • 1 Fittonia verschaffeltii 'Forest Flame'
  • 1 Humata tyermanii 'White Rabbit's Foot'
  • 1 Selaginella kraussiana 'Spike Moss'

Decorations

  • 1 medium rock
  • Small handful of river pebbles
  • 1/4 cup small black stones
  • Handful of live moss
  • 1 meerkat figurine (optional)


Directions

Step 1: Give the glass canister a good wash inside and out.

Step 2: Pour the small cream pebbles into the bottom of the canister, and gently shake to create an even layer. Add a separation layer, if using (this prevents the soil from dropping down into the drainage layer below. You can use brown paper, a fly screen, or weed matting. Trace around your container and cut out a shape that is 1/2 inch smaller than the inside o your terrarium. Place the separation layer on top of your layer of pebbles, and add a layer of compacted sphagnum moss tightly around the edge of the glass to prevent any soil from dropping through).

Step 3: Soak the sphagnum moss in water for a few seconds, then squeeze out the excess water and place a thin layer firmly on top of the pebbles or separation layer. You want to form a barrier so that the soil doesn't drop into the drainage layer below.

Step 4: Sprinkle the charcoal evenly over the sphagnum moss.

Step 5: Add half of the potting mix to the canister, creating different height levels.

Step 6: Remove the plants from their pots and gently scrape away any excess soil from the roots.

Step 7: Arrange the plants inside the terrarium. Add the remaining soil to cover the roots and press down firmly.

Step 8: Place the rock, pebbles and stones in between the plants and position the live moss around the inside edge of the terrarium. Add the meerkat.

Step 9: Water the plants thoroughly with a water-spray bottle.

Care Tips

  • Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • If the container is sealed you may not need additional moisture. Open every few months and slowly pour 1/2 cup water onto the soil, if required.
  • Closed terrariums should fog up. this shows that the eco-system is working effectively. Big droplets indicate there is too much moisture. If this happens, leave the lid open for a few days.
  • Remove the live moss if it starts to brown or turn moldy and replace with fresh moss.


Minisphere

Air plants work particularly well in these hanging tea light orbs. They don't require any soil, which can weigh down the terrarium and make it heavy.

minisphere

What You'll Need

Basic Equipment

  • 6 in glass tealight orb
  • 1/4 cup decorative grey stones
  • 1/4 cup glass bead pebbles

Plants

  • 1 Tillandsia stricta
  • 1 Tillandsia ionantha 'Rubra'
  • 1 Tillandsia ionantha v Mexico
  • 1 Tillandsia ionantha 'Peach'

Decorations

  • Small handful of coral rubble
  • Handful of small shells
  • 1 dried sea urchin
  • 1 dried starfish


Directions

Step 1: Give the glass a good wash inside and out.

Step 2: Soak the air plants in a bowl of water for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Pour the grey stones into the orb.

Step 4: Add the glass pebbles around the front of the orb.

Step 5: Drain the air plants and shake off any excess water, as they may rot if they hold extra moisture for too long.

Step 6: Arrange your air plants in the orb.

Step 7: Add the coral, shells, sea urchin and starfish.

Step 8: Attach fishing wire or string to the glass loop at the top of the terrarium, and hang in a sunny spot.

Care Tips

  • Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Remove the plants and soak in water once a week for 30 minutes. Spritz with a water-spray bottle in warmer months.
  • Air plants do not require soil; they use their roots to anchor themselves to rocks and branches.
  • Curled leaves indicate that the plants are not getting enough water.


Dishy

Desert landscapes really thrive in a round, open container. These terrariums make a cool centerpiece for a dinner or coffee table.

dishy

What You'll Need

Basic Equipment

  • 12 in round glass bowl
  • 4 cups small cream pebbles
  • 1/2 cup horticultural charcoal
  • 6 cups potting mix (or succulent soil)

Plants

  • 3 Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'
  • 2 Crassula ovata 'Jade Plant'
  • 2 Sedum rubrotinctum var. roseum 'Jelly Bean'
  • 1 Aeonium lindleyi
  • 1 Crassula ovata 'Gollum'
  • 2 Aeonium haworthii 'Variegata'
  • 1 Sedum clavatum 'Stonecrop'
  • 1 Echeveria 'Violet Queen'

Decorations

  • 4 large rocks
  • Handful of black and brown river pebbles
  • 1 cup black shiny decorative pebbles


Directions

Step 1: Give the glass a good wash inside and out.

Step 2: Pour the small cream pebbles into the bottom of the bowl, and gently shake to create an even layer.

Step 3: Sprinkle the charcoal evenly over the pebbles.

Step 4: Add three quarters of the potting mix.

Step 5: Remove the plants from their pots and gently scrape away any excess soil from the root balls.

Step 6: Dig small holes in the soil. Place small plants around the edge and tall plants in the middle. Add the remaining soil to cover the roots and press down firmly.

Step 7: Add the large rocks, river pebbles and shiny decorative pebbles around the inside edge of the terrarium and in between the plants.

Step 8: Water the plants thoroughly with a water-spray bottle.

Care Tips

  • Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Slowly pour 1 cup water directly onto the soil once a month in winter and every two weeks in summer. Allow the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Cuttings are great to use in these desert gardens.
  • Rotate occasionally if plants start to reach to one side.


She Sells Seashells

Give your terrarium a beachy vibe with shells and coral. You can easily get them at your local aquarium store.

she sells seashells

What You'll Need

Basic Equipment

  • 14 in concrete-bottomed hurricane vase
  • 2 cups gravel
  • 1/2 cup horticultural charcoal
  • 2 cups potting mix (or African Violet mix)

Plants

  • 1 Syngonium 'Neon'
  • 1 Hypoestes phyllostachya 'Pink Polka Dot'
  • 1 Hypoestes phyllostachya 'White Polka Dot'
  • 1 Saintpaulia ionantha 'African Violet'

Decorations

  • 1 dried sea fan
  • 1 cup grey decorative pebbles
  • 1 cup coral rubble
  • Handful of shells
  • 1 dried sea urchin
  • 1 dried starfish


Directions

Step 1: Give the glass a good wash inside and out.

Step 2: Pour the gravel into the bottom of the vase, but don't go above the concrete base level, so the drainage layer isn't visible. Gently shake to create an even layer.

Step 3: Sprinkle the charcoal evenly over the gravel.

Step 4: Add three quarters of the potting mix and create a mound in the middle.

Step 5: Push the sea fan into the potting mix at the back of the vase.

Step 6: Remove the plants from their pots and gently scrape away any excess soil, so you are only left with the root balls.

Step 7: Place the taller plants at the back of the vase and the smaller plants towards the front. Add the remaining soil to firmly cover the roots.

Step 8: Add the decorative pebbles and the coral rubble around the inside edge of the vase – try to cover all of the soil. Add the shells, sea urchin and starfish.

Step 9: Water the plants thoroughly with a water-spray bottle.

Care Tips

  • Indirect sunlight.
  • Slowly pour 1/2 cup water directly onto the soil every 7–14 days, depending on the season and climate. Keep the soil moist between watering but not soaking wet.
  • Choose plants with white in their foliage to complement the coral and seashells.
  • Replace any plants that outgrow their environment.


To buy this project book, click here.

cover

Projects and images excerpted from Miniscapes: Create Your Own Terrarium by Clea Cregan (Hardie Grant Publishing, 2016).