How to build a closed terrarium thumbnail

How to build a closed terrarium

**Don’t feel like reading? Watch our video!**

We have a quick and easy guide, and go more in depth below. 

The quick and easy guide:

1. Add clay balls (1+ cm high)
2. Add Sphagnum moss
3. Add Activated Carbon
4. Add Terrarium Substrate
5. Add rocks & wood (if you have any)
6. Add plants
7. Add moss
8. Finished! Spray the terrarium down, or add water. Wait till you see small layer of water at the bottom. Place the lid on and you're done! For extra care tips read this.


So, to start off,  what is a terrarium?

That's a great question. A terrarium is a completely self-sustaining ecosystem.

The water from the bottom evaporates up onto the glass, after which it falls down onto the plants and the roots. Just like in nature. This means that there is (almost!) no care needed.


To get started, It is best to organize all your stuff nicely. To build a closed terrarium you need the following:

  • A Container (Preferably glass)
  • Plants (More on which plants are a good fit later)
  • Terrarium substrate mix
  • Clay balls
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Activated carbon

And optionally you can also use:

  • Moss
  • Decorative wood
  • Decorative rocks
  • Tools

The false bottom

OK, to start off, we're going to start with the soil layers as previously discussed. Let’s put some clay balls in! 

The reason we put in the clay balls is to create a drainage layer and the goal of this layer is to have the water sitting at the bottom and not touching the soil of the plants and the terrarium, because then it would cause rot and other nasty issues.

So to start off you can use either your hands or you could choose one of our handy spatula tools. Make sure to create a flat even layer and after that we can go on to the next part.

Now comes a layer of Sphagnum Moss. The reason we put Sphagnum Moss is to create a barrier between clay balls and the soil. Otherwise the soil would start slowly falling through the clay layer, risking your terrarium becoming moldy. 

Tip! We recommend using tap water that's been left out for about 24 Hours or some distilled water you can buy at the grocery market.

Next up is the carbon, so we have Activated Carbon Pellets here. What this does is, basically it filters out all the nasty chemicals that are in the water that would otherwise harm your plants. 

So you want to wet the soil first. As you can see, it's quite wet, and when you squeeze it, it's sticking together and not falling apart immediately.

So we're going to start putting the soil in.

And now is a great time to think about how you want your terrarium to look.

Tip 1! Make one edge of the terrarium higher the create the illusion of a hill

Tip 2! The moss & plants are going to be quite a big higher than the soil, make sure to leave some room

Tip 3! Tip: Make sure you add enough soil for the roots of the plants

Rocks & wood (optional)

Rocks and wood can really help in creating that natural terrarium look. However just plants will also look amazing. 

Tip 1!  Place larger plants at the back, and smaller ones up front to create a sense of depth

Tip 2! Add the largest piece of wood or rock first as these will define the shape of the terrarium


To know which plants are suited, we advise to use google. As a rule of thumb, any humidity loving plant that does well in shade-part sun will do amazing. 

Tip! Remember to experiment as well. You can always remove any plants if they are not doing to well

To place your plants in the terrarium, make sure to remove all the soil that is around the plants roots as these can sometimes contain fertilizers from the nurseries. These fertilizers could be harmful for your terrarium.


Next up is moss! You can rip the sheet moss and also the cushion moss into pieces to create perfect amounts for the space of your terrarium.

Cleaning & placing your terrarium

There are only a few steps left, And that is the placement of the Terrarium. A microfiber cloth works best at making your terrarium look clean. So the best spot is probably a window that doesn't get any direct sunlight, but gets bright light every day, because obviously the plants still need light.

Tip 1! If you see the leaves of plants reaching for the light, you should probably place it a little bit closer to your window

Tip 2! If you get  yellowing plants, or the moss is turning brown, then it's probably a better idea to place it in a spot with a little bit less light.

Tip 3! Add springtails to prevent mold and make the terrarium completely bioactive.

Finishing notes

Lastly make sure to spray your terrarium down one more time, or add some water. Make sure there is a little pool of water in your drainage layer. That’s it. On goes the lid! 

All of these items can be found here

Questions? Feel free to reach out! We are always ready to help you out. 

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1 comment

Bedankt voor de nuttige informatie. De spullen die ik besteld had zijn allemaal kwalitatief erg goed

Marco Sol

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