Make Your Own Terrarium
5 Myths You Need To Know

1. Creating a Terrarium is EXPENSIVE.

  • This one must and should be first in the list because I have encountered this a lot of times. This is a common question being asked most of the time, that making a terrarium costs a lot; materials and all. However, contrary to the popular belief that making a terrarium is expensive; I can say that there are low to no-cost terrarium build projects. Native terrariums, for example, is the most basic and could be a great example of low-cost terrarium build. Native terrariums use plants and materials that are readily available in the surroundings. One can use the dried leaves, local ferns, local plants, garden soil, etc. which you can pick up outside your home. Another great project with low to no-cost would be a mossarium. Since mosses grow in almost any place and in any condition, you can always pick up a few clumps outside and decorate your mossarium with some stones and dried twigs and you can already have your own mossarium at home.
  • For the materials aside from the landscape design and hardscape, the glass is almost always the hard material to come by as well. But as mentioned, you can start making your own terrariums without the need for costly and fancy glass enclosures. You can start with your old and tucked away jars at home. Instead of letting it sit in the drawers and cupboard, you can put it out and repurpose it into a terrarium. Not only did you save money from buying expensive glass enclosures, but you also found a good way to use those jars hiding in your storage area.

2. You need to have complete accessories and gadgets to create a terrarium.

  • We often see in YouTube the videos of artists with their awesome equipment and array of gadgets, and it had us thinking that we need all of those things in order for us to make awesome terrariums, however, you may argue with me, but I would beg to disagree with you here. Although it is better to have a complete set of awesome tweezers, etc. yet for you to start in your terrarium journey, you still can with just a few DIY and improvised home equipment. You can always use chopsticks for tweezers, improvised spoon with stick handles for mini shovel, etc. As mentioned above, there are always materials at home that you can use instead of spending money to buy new items and equipment. But making DIY equipment is part of the fun too. With some creativity and resourcefulness, who knows, your old items at home will be good enough to get you started in your terrarium project. That means less expense and delay, more creativity and more savings; thus, goal achievement.

3. You need to be artistic to create beautiful terrariums.

  • We often equate artistry in designing nature-inspired enclosures that we see in Pinterest, Instagram, etc.; I must say otherwise. Yes, it requires some perfect planning for manicured set-ups but I have mentioned earlier that there is also an option for a native terrarium or a simple mossarium. And a native terrarium doesn’t require precise artistic and manicured scaping or designing. In most videos of Tanner of SerpaDesign, you can observe that he just throws in whatever plant he thinks would look good or whatever hardscape that might fit the glass enclosure. Most of the time, the initial design and initial plan doesn’t equate to the final design as some plants or materials might not fit in the glass enclosure or that it might not fit well with other plants too—and this is ok and acceptable. You are making a terrarium to mimic nature after all, which means that in the real rainforest or jungle, or whatever your inspiration is—nature is imperfect. It doesn’t follow strict rules of placement of plants, location of dead trees, stones, and all other things. Whatever the wind throws their way, the local inhabitants bring their way, nature is taking its natural course. This goes the same with your terrariums. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just go ahead and throw in whatever plant you think would fit and later on, when you are done, you will see and appreciate the beauty of the terrarium you made, imperfect but beautiful.

4. It is difficult to create a terrarium.

  • Again, going back to what we see on YouTube tutorials, we may think that creating your own terrarium is difficult and hard—but no, it is not. It may be challenging yes, but, as with all other hobbies and DIY crafts; all we need is a little patience. Your first terrarium doesn’t have to be perfect (again with the perfection) because you can make mistakes with the amount of substrate, the amount of sand/stone, charcoal, and even the number of plants used. There is no accurate measurement that needs to be followed in making a terrarium. Although there is a suggestion that to maximize the viewing experience, you must utilize only 2/3 of the size of the enclosure and leave 1/3 for viewing experience and room for your plants to grow. But as mentioned, you can go freestyle on your enclosure. This is one hobby that doesn’t need to be exact in measurements of temperature, humidity, acidity, water, substrate, oxygen levels, etc. When you close the terrarium, it will start to regulate its own ecosystem inside over time. The one thing that most of the hobbyists will recommend to you probably, as will I, would be give it time. As the true test of the success of your enclosure is time. Give it time to adjust, to settle, to acclimate, and build its ecosystem so that you can appreciate its beauty later on.

5. Terrariums require high maintenance.

  • This is by far my favorite or second to #1. Contrary to the relative hobby of terrascaping, which is the aquascaping; the terrarium is less likely or even a no-maintenance set-up at all. Yes, that is correct. Especially if you opt for a mossarium, this is most likely to be not maintained at all (only if you keep on opening it—with which there is a likelihood of you doing so, trust me).
  • A normal terrarium requires only 3 things: High Humidity, High Moisture, and Minimum Light Source at the very least. If these conditions are met, there is a high chance for your terrarium to survive, thrive, and grow. As mentioned above, time will tell if your terrarium can regulate its own ecosystem inside the enclosure for the contents to acclimate and adjust to the environment and atmosphere. Once everything has settled in, the self-regulating mechanism/ecosystem will be responsible in distributing the water, air, and nutrients inside it. Nutrients was not included because you do not need to fertilize your enclosure as it can cause the plants to grow rapidly and uncontrollably which is something you don’t want to happen. If you’ve met the humidity and moisture requirement, then the last thing you should have in mind would be the source of light for photosynthesis and for the color of your plants as well. The best and highly recommended source of light of course is an indirect sunlight. You may want to avoid the direct sunlight on the glass as it creates a magnifying glass effect that can burn the contents of your terrarium.
  • For these requirements, even without the use of the standard measurement system (but you may opt to buy also if you want to), you can fair with your terrariums. For moisture, you may observe the peak of the condensation against the glass in the morning and in the afternoon. It can also happen anytime of the day especially if there is a sudden drop of temperature in the surroundings outside of the glass enclosure. You can also check the topmost layer of your substrate and see if the substrate will stick to your finger. If it did, then it means your substrate is moist. For humidity, it goes hand-in-hand with condensation. If the outside environment’s temperature drops, your terrarium most likely will become foggy and will be highly condensed due to the temperature difference inside and outside of the glass plus the high moisture content inside as well.

In conclusion, terrarium-making and maintenance is very easy and the only trick I can probably share with you is that you really must observe your enclosure. If you bought your terrarium from someone, go ask them for advice as well if you see anything peculiar. If you created the terrarium yourself, you would notice the difference from the day it was made which will be your gauge of measurement.


Terrarium making and rearing is one hobby I must say is one that I can recommend to everyone especially those living in the metropolitan area as it does not need maintenance, is closed and less likely to attract unwanted animal inhabitants, with high aesthetic values, and most of all, can invoke the feeling of peace and a good childhood memory—of the great outdoors, of the wilderness, of the wet rainforest, and of happy feeling of closeness to nature. Of utter joy.

Froilan Aloro