Beginners Guide to DIY Terrariums

Terrariums are a natural and wonderfully aesthetic way to brighten up any space, and with an increase in remote working, neglected home offices the world over are now getting the spruce up they deserve. If you’re thinking about building your own terrarium but you’re not quite sure what ingredients you need (or why you need them), check out our quick-start guide to DIY terrariums that tells you everything you need to know to get started. 

Building your first DIY Terrarium: Easier than it looks. 

One of the main benefits of creating your own terrarium is how easy it is to build and maintain. You will probably lose a few plants along the way, but don’t take it personally, in general terrarium plants are pretty robust so this will be a rare occurrence. 

The ingredients you will need can be found in most gardening stores, but to make things easier we’ve created Terrarium Starter Kits which can be delivered to your door and include all the starter ingredients in one handy package; all you have to do is provide a container and your plants of choice. 

DIY Terrariums: What you need and why. 

1. A Glass Container 

Why: Glass is more affordable, harder to damage and won’t discolour like plastic. 

There is so much choice when it comes to what you will use to house your terrarium, just make sure it is made of glass and has been thoroughly cleaned before you start. For beginners, we recommend starting with an open container, but this can be in any shape or size so let your creativity flow! 

2. The Rocks 

Why: A layer of gravel in your terrarium functions as a drainage system, allowing the water to escape from the soil avoiding stagnation and flooding. 

Our starter kit includes clay pebbles for your rock layer, but you can use a variety of material including pea gravel, aquarium gravel or sea glass. Ensure that you have an even layer that’s around 1 to 2 inches thick so that any excess water has enough space to move away from the soil. 

3. Sphagnum Moss 

Why: Sphagnum moss helps to absorb excess water and acts as a seal to stop soil from clogging up your rock layer. 

Sphagnum moss also comes in our starter kit and should be placed carefully over the rock layer. Make sure it’s thick enough to hold back the soil (around 1 inch) and that you can clearly see the layer through the glass as the lighter colour of the moss will add a nice visual contrast to your base layers. 

4. Activated Charcoal 

Why: This is your filter layer. It will remove bacteria, fungi and other toxins that can create an odour or cause damage. 

The activated charcoal layer is optional but we include it in our starter kit because it helps to maintain the right conditions for you plant to thrive. This makes life easier for you as there isn’t as much need to constantly be on the lookout for any nasties. Unlike the rock layer, you don’t need much of this stuff, simply sprinkle a thin layer over the sphagnum moss and you’re good to go. 

5. The Soil 

Why: Your soil layer is where your plants will take root and soak up all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy. 

Our starter kit soil is good to use for most terrarium plants including bonsai succulents and ferns. We recommend starting with these types of plants as they are robust and relatively easy to maintain in a terrarium environment. Your soil layer should be around 2 ½ inches to provide enough room for the plants to take root. 

6. The Plants 

Why: Because adding a touch of fresh, beautiful nature to your living space is good for the soul! 

The plants aren’t included in our starter kit because the best part of a DIY terrarium is creating something that’s unique to you. As mentioned above, succulents are a good choice to start off with; they don’t need much watering and are forgiving of even the most inexperienced gardener. But do be careful not to overcrowd them by planting too close together or in too small a container. 

It’s Terrarium Time! 

Now that you know the whats and the whys, it’s time to have a bit of fun. Once you’ve built your first terrarium, you’ll soon have the confidence to get more and more creative, so relax and enjoy your new hobby. Don’t forget to check out Rootbox to download our free Terrarium eBook and find out more about our handy starter kits too. 

Happy planting! 

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