Building a Terrarium {Got Gnomes?}

Building a Terrarium {Got Gnomes?}

gardenI think there is something so magical and whimsical about terrariums. Aside from their gorgeous natural beauty, they are extremely easy to care for making them a perfect addition to your home decor.
Last weekend my little guy and I put together two different types of terrariums {one open air and the other enclosed}. We simply used a few things we had around the house and yard making this an easy, inexpensive and fun project. It’s a wonderful way to get your little ones involved with nature and the environment too! {plus teach them first hand about eco-systems if they are old enough}

~Picking a Container~
Any clear container can be used to make a terrarium; you just want to make sure it is large enough to contain the plants you have selected. If you are making an enclosed terrarium make sure you have a fitted cover or lid that will seal in the moisture. Dishes and bowls with out lids are great for making open air Terrariums which are just as attractive. Kristie over at The Speckled Dog used some really creative and adorable jars for hers that she showcased during this weekends party. We used two large glass hurricanes that I had on hand for our project.

~Base Layers~
To allow for good drainage and prevent root rot a nice layer of course sand or pebbles should be placed in the bottom of your container. Next you want to sprinkle a light layer of activated charcoal. This is optional but highly recommended if you are using an enclosed container. The addition of charcoal filters the air and keeps it fresh. Activated charcoal is generally used in aquarium filters and can be found in pet stores.

Next you want to add a nice layer of sphagnum moss, which can be found in the floral section of your local craft store. The moss will allow water to drain while providing a barrier to prevent your soil from settling down into your rocks. Your final layer will be your potting soil. Regular potting soil is all you need unless you are planting specialty plants that require a specific mix {such as succulents or cactus}.

For our open air terrarium we used a mix of succulent cuttings.

Succulents work well in open air containers and are not recommended for enclosed terrariums. Succulents require neglect so they are perfect for those who forget to water and do not require any maintenance.

The little gnome was a garden pick I purchased last year for my son’s flower bed. Isn’t he a cutie?

I made a simple pedestal by gluing a dinner plate to an old candle stick I had. A quick coat of paint and it makes the perfect stand!

The other terrarium we made was enclosed. Enclosed containers create their own miniature eco-systems and recycle moisture, needing very little attention. An enclosed terrarium can go months before needing to be watered.

Many different plants do well in terrariums. The best thing is to choose plants you like and watch them closely to make sure they are thriving well. You can always remove and replace plants if they seem like they are not working. We used a mix of hosta, live moss, and shamrock.

Since the glass hurricane did not have an original lid, I simply used a clear glass dinner plate for a cover.

Slow growing plants keep your terrarium looking nice and clean. If you plants seem over grown, you can always pich off the new growth to encourage a fuller bushy-like appearance.

Enclosed terrariums require very little watering and actually thrive off of neglect. Depending on conditions, lightly water only when the soil gets dry, once every few weeks. {It’s very important not to over water}

Place your terrarium in a bright but indirect sunlight. If condensation forms, remove the lid for a few hours or move to a less lighted area. Enjoy!


  1. Oh I just love this!! I have always wanted to try my hand at making a little fairy garden. Your terrarium is beautiful enough for grown ups to enjoy and magical enough for kids!
    What a FUN project!!

  2. Wow, what a cool concept, never even heard of these, probably due to the fact that I have a brown thumb and kill every plant that comes within 5 miles of me but this I may can do!

  3. Apparently all my houseplants died for no reason…I should have just gotten a terrarium instead! I think I am pretty good at neglecting houseplants and yard plants too:)

  4. I just love the gnome and did not know about the charcoal…that may explain some things… Thanks!

  5. Oh, my gosh! Those are great! Now I’m gonna have to find a little gnome for my bigger one.

  6. I love these!

  7. Love this so much I reposted today! Thanks for the idea.

  8. Now, I know what to do with this huge candle holder I have.

  9. I was just telling my kids that I would look around online for info about starting a terrarium. This is a great post! Can’t wait to get started.

  10. This is a lovely idea. Yours turned out looking so good. My daughter has been on at me for ages to do this. I’m going to have a look for a suitable container.

    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Hi. I just found your blog via The Magic Onions. I love your terrariums. They are so magical. My daughter and I made one a few months ago and put in a little fairy. We love to check on her every day!

  12. Hi Stephanie. I tried making one of these today. Not as impressive as yours – not sure I chose the right plants, but wanted to share with you. Here’s the link: Thanks! — Teresa

  13. What a cute idea!! These do look like magical little forests! I saw some similar gnomes (frogs too) at the Tarjay dollar section. Now I know what I can do with them!!


  14. I love terrariums! I use Dollar Store moss rocks in my cloches and containers when real plants won’t do, the lush green is such a pick me up. Beautiful job!

  15. I can’t wait to make a few of my own! Great job!

  16. What a cute little gnome to keep in captivity. What a lovely terrarium. I thought these were a lost art.

  17. What a great idea. Just saw a bunch of those clear containers at a local hobby store and knew I should have picked up some.

  18. I’ve always wanted a terrarium. Someday I’m going to try this.

  19. Love it. Thanks for sharing

  20. I took my granddaughter to a fairy garden class… Cost about $100. Next time we’ll be making them at home. Yours are adorable.


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