Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Green Tutorial: Large Jar Terrarium

Terrariums are so much fun! Making a terrarium is like building your own little world - a micro habitat you can set on a shelf and admire (or forget about - if you build a closed terrarium correctly, you should be able to leave it alone for years, or even decades, like this one!).

This is a tutorial on how I created my large jar terrarium. My tutorial has something other terrarium tutorials is missing - cat butt. Amelia was curious and had to investigate!


1 large glass jar (with or without lid)
Small pebbles
Potting soil
Small plants
Larger pebbles or other decorative items

The materials needed to make a large jar terrarium, and Amelia's tush.


Gather all of your materials. I purchased my pebbles, charcoal and potting soil at Strader's Garden Center in Grandview. The glass jar is a big pickle jar that we were using to collect spare change. I bought my plants at Flora Home & Garden in the Short North. I stopped in Flora last week when I was picking up pizza at Zpizza and thought they'd look great together (check out my review of Zpizza here)! 

These plants are so cute!

The red plant is Ruby Red Club Moss (Selaginella erythropus ‘Sanguinea’). If this spike moss is kept cold all of the leaves will be bright red, but grown indoors the leaves will be dark green on top and ruby red on the stems and leaf undersides. I'm interested to see if my plant will change color or remain the same!

The green plant is Miniature Oakleaf Fig (Ficus pumila ‘Quercifolia’). The leaves of this creeping fig look like little oak leaves! Both the club moss and fig are good for terrariums, hanging baskets and other containers. The club moss does best in partial sun and shade, while the fig does well in full sun, partial sun or shade. Both handle moisture well so they will be good roommates in a terrarium together!

The three main components needed in a terrarium are pebbles for drainage, charcoal to clean and purify the water and soil for the plants to grow in. Put the pebbles in first. I find that for small containers it helps to 'spoon' the pebbles in, but with this large jar I poured them straight from the bag. You'll want a layer about an inch in height. Next add an inch layer of charcoal, using a spoon if you wish. Finally add some soil, not quite an inch unless you have a lot of head space still left in your container.

The plants are next! Remove your plants from their plastic pots and gently tease the root ball so it's a bit loose before placing each plant on the layer of soil you just added. You will most likely need to add some soil around the root ball of each plant. It's easiest if you pre-moisten your potting soil with a bit of water before spooning it into your container. Dry soil will get everywhere, but with damp or wet soil you have more control. I spooned a little bit of soil into a plastic container, added water and stirred before adding the damp soil to the jar.

Once you're happy with how your plants look, wipe down the inside of your jar with a towel to remove any loose soil.

If you're using rocks or other decorative items, add them now. I had some pretty rocks that have been in other plant displays at home and I found two really cool shaped rocks in the bag of pebbles I bought at Strader's (they're on the left side in the left photo above). Make sure that no leafy parts of your plants are buried under soil before placing the rocks. My club moss was a lot more delicate than I realized and during the planting process I accidentally broke off a large stem! The plant is still alive, just tinier!

The needs of your plant will help determine how you care for your terrarium. Since both of my plants can handle shade, I am keeping my terrarium on our mantle above the fireplace, on the end that receives the least amount of sunlight. If your plants require more sunlight, put your terrarium in a sunny spot. Both of these plants like moisture so I will be sure to mist them regularly and am looking for a lid to cover the top. A lid on your terrarium will help trap moisture which means you will not need to water as frequently, if at all. Also be sure to pair plants that will grow well together, a succulent would not be happy in this terrarium because succulents are adapted to grow in dry, sunny environments.

I'm excited about this new terrarium! Check out where I put it and all of the other plants in our apartment here!