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How to Make Your Own Indoor Plant Terrarium

Published on November 2nd 2018
A succulent terrarium on a table
Owning a terrarium is like having a miniature, contained ecosystem in your living room! They can be considered an easy-to-look-after addition to your plant collection, too, if you select the right plants.
If you're looking for a mindful Mental Health Awareness Week activity and fancy treating yourself to some new plants, a terrarium would be a great option! Terrariums also make great gifts for friends and loved ones too.
In this article, our expert botanist Rosie explains everything you need to know about making a terrarium of your own.

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is a clear form of gardening container, most often used indoors for growing and displaying plants. Terrariums may be open to the air or closed, with a flap or door allowing access to the plants inside.
Open terrariums have a section uncovered for airflow. This kind of terrarium is particularly good for Cacti and Succulent arrangements as these plants enjoy life on the drier side and benefit from the added airflow.
Some terrariums with green plants
Closed terrariums are great for plants that enjoy a more moist environment like tropical aroids, Fittonia, or Jewel Orchids. The closed nature of the container aids high humidity, and this can be accentuated with regular misting. In a closed terrarium, the water vapour cannot immediately dissipate to the other side of your living room, meaning there is much more benefit to spraying your plants.

What kind of plants can you grow in a terrarium?

Succulents, Cacti and Air Plants are the classic choices for open container terrarium growing, with moisture-loving plants better suited to closed container terrariums. Consider the light you have available first and grow what makes you happy!
Most Succulent and Cactus plants enjoy hours of intense sunlight in the wild. This can be hard to replicate in the home, but depending on what you grow, this doesn't have to be a problem! Some Cacti and Succulents can cope with less direct sun and even thrive indoors with just a few hours of sunlight, or if you really want to pamper your plants, consider supplemental lighting to give them that brightness boost!
Christmas Cactus is one of those plants that do well in bright indirect sunlight. If you don't get much sun, consider a closed terrarium filled with moisture-loving plants like Fittonia, Pilea and leafy ferns such as the delicate Maidenhair Fern.

What is a Cactus or Succulent?

Succulent is a term applied to a whole range of different plants that retain and store water in thick fleshy leaves, stems or roots. The word succulent derives from the Latin word succulentus, meaning fleshy or juicy. Succulent plants include cactus plants, as all cacti are succulent.
However, not all Succulents are Cacti! Cactus plants store water in their green stems and don't produce significant leafy foliage to reduce water loss. Succulents, by contrast, are usually all about the fleshy leaves!
Both Succulents and Cacti have evolutionary adaptations allowing them to survive in dry, arid environments with irregular rain or little water available.
Cacti and Succulents can be bold and brightly coloured, and they are eye-catching and easy to care for plants. Most Cacti and Succulents can be grown effectively together as they have the same general care requirements, liking dry, gritty, well-draining soil and coping well with little and infrequent watering.
Read more about Succulents here:
Read more about Cacti here:

Why not level up your houseplant collection with the addition of some Succulents? Explore all Succulents available to buy on Candide.

What soil should go in a terrarium?

The soil in your terrarium should vary depending on what kind of terrarium you've plumped for and what plants you intend to grow in it. Cacti and Succulent plants enjoy well-aerated, gritty soil that drains and dries quickly. Don't just use a handful from the garden. This will very likely be too heavy. Mix potting soil with perlite, sand, grit or small stones to improve the draining capability. Getting the soil mixture right will help prevent overwatering, which can easily cause root rot.
A person making a terrarium with succulent plants

Find soil, pots and all the gardening essentials for making and maintaining terrariums on Candide.

If you wanted to learn more about how soil works, have a browse of these articles on the subject:

What if soil isn't your thing?

Have you considered Air Plants? These are a kind of plant that doesn't need any soil to grow!
The genus Tillandsia contains around 630 evergreen perennial plants, commonly known as Air Plants. They originate from warm climates and are found in a wide range of environments, from jungles to arid deserts. Some have adapted to grow high up in trees or in moist swamps, while others are fond of more rocky environments.
Air Plants don’t have roots like most classic houseplants; instead, they absorb moisture and nutrition from the air through their leaves to survive. You can spritz or soak them as a rough guide, but usually, the thinner the leaf, the more water is needed. They'll need more regular watering in summer, as with all houseplants and the brighter the light, the more water your plants will likely need.
Some people building terrariums

What about terrarium containers?

Terrariums don't have to break the bank, but they can be a wonderful treat to yourself and your houseplants. There's a huge range of different styles to suit every taste. Here are a few of our favourites:
Really you can plant in almost anything, for example, broken cups, metal tins, fruit bowls, mugs, old toys, furniture, wooden crates. The only limit is your creativity! If DIY isn't your thing and you just wanted to get growing, check out all the pots for sale on Candide.

For more in depth instruction and guidance on terrariums and how to make them, read on:

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