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Kitchen benchtop with timber platter against the wall, and various succulent plants.

Overview

If you’re short on garden space, but still want to stretch your green thumb, terrariums are the D.I.Y. project for you! Easy to make and oh-so-beautiful, they are a great way to brighten any indoor space.

But what exactly is a terrarium? There’s a chance you’ve seen one in a store or florist – it’s a collection of small, decorative plants, growing in a glass bowl, glass jar or other transparent container. The opening is usually quite large (like a fishbowl) as it allows the gardener to access all the greenery inside. 

A terrarium lives inside and only needs to be watered intermittently, making it great for those who are looking for a low-maintenance introduction to indoor plants. It limits mess and can be placed out of the way of curious little hands and paws. 

When you make your own, you can create something that’s completely unique. While we’d like to say you could use any plant you like, there are a couple that work best in these small spaces. They are peperomias, air plants, mondo grass, small begonias, ferns, moss, “Moon Valley” pilea (Pilea involucrata), sedums, cacti and succulents. If in doubt, look for small plants that thrive in humid environments.

Terrariums also make for impressive gifts, even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves green thumbs

 

 

 

Steps

1Choose your container

Terrariums are best in glassware you don’t want to hide all the wonderful layers you’ve added! It also makes it easier to keep an eye on the level of moisture. We’re using these Bunnings planters to create our terrariums.

Three see-through glass pots sitting on table outside, with a person holding one of them on an angle.

2Create the base layer

Using a mix of different sands or crushed rock, layer your base of the terrarium. We’re using a mix of colours in crushed stone as the base to create the terrarium layer. 
Then add a layer of larger sized rocks or pebbles, followed by some crushed quartz to make sure the layer on top won’t fall through the rocks.

The easiest way to add to your terrarium is with a small spade or a spoon. If you’re working with a container that has a smaller opening, you may like to use a funnel to help pour in accurately. 

Person funnelling sand into see-through glass pot.

3Add the activated charcoal

Now add a layer of activated charcoal. This will help keep fungus and bad bacteria down, as well as prevent any smells coming from your terrarium. Spread a 2cm layer. 

Person scooping horticultural charcoal into see-through stone pot.

4Potting mix

Add 3cm of potting mix on top of the charcoal. Then, add your plants, spreading out the roots so they’re sitting on the soil. Don’t worry about making sure they’re buried in the soil at this stage. Add all your plants and then spoon on a small amount of potting mix to cover, or a little potting mix and pebbles to cover the roots entirely. 

It's best not to mix cacti and succulents with other plants as they have very different watering requirements.

Person scooping potting mix into see-through stone pot.

5Terrarium decoration

Add any crushed rocks or figurines for decoration.

Person putting plant into see-through glass pot that already has sand and stones in it.

6Water

Using a spray bottle, spray the terrarium lightly. The easiest way to tell if your terrarium needs watering is if you poke your finger into the soil. If it’s dry, time for some water! However, don’t be tempted to water too often if there is a puddle of water at the bottom of your terrarium, you’ve overwatered.

See-through glass post with stones, sand and succulents in it.

7Time to make your own

Explore our range of small plants to start your terrarium project. 

Suggested products

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.