9 Easy Steps to Make a Terrarium

In The New Terrarium, horticulturist Tovah Martin unlocks the secrets to these miniature worlds with practical advice bringing your favorite plants indoors. This book is full of luscious, inspiring ideas for displaying nature in your home.

Here, Tovah shares her step-by-step technique for planting moss, which thrives in glass-enclosed environments.

Make a Terrarium: Planting in Moss in a Jar

Many plants do perfectly well nestled in a bed of moss planted directly into a glass jar. With the moss lining the walls of the jar, it makes a handsome composition.

Appropriate Plants:

– Miniature begonias
– Gesneriads
– Miniature orchids
– Venus flytrap—Dionaea
– Nerve plants—Fittonia
– Waffle plant—Hemigraphis
– Mosses
– Dwarf ferns


– Jar, with or without a lid (apothecary jars and bell jars are also appropriate)
– Charcoal pieces (from an aquarium supply shop or garden center)
– Sheet moss
– Potting soil

Helpful Tools:

– Gloves
– Tongs or long-handled tweezers
– Barbecue skewer with cork on tip
– Watering can


1. Choose a jar with or without a lid—any size will do, from Mason jar dimensions on up to larger apothecary jars and bell jars.

2. Select a plant to grow inside, taking into account the proportions of both plant and jar.

3. Sprinkle a thin layer of charcoal pieces into the bottom of the jar.

4. Wearing gloves, lay a carpet of sheet moss over the bottom and partially up the sides of the jar (tongs might be necessary if you can’t fit your hand inside) until there’s a soft bed of sheet moss where the plant’s roots will sit—this will help to sponge up excess water.

5. Remove the plant from its container and tuck it into the moss bed (again, use tongs if you can’t fit your hand into the jar).

6. Add potting soil to fill in, if necessary, potting the plant into the moss bed as you would transplant into any container. Firm the soil in (a barbecue skewer fitted with a cork tip is helpful here).

7. Tuck the moss in over the soil of the new transplant and top-dress if there is exposed soil.

8. Water lightly.

9. Clean off the sides of the jar so you can get a clear window on the growing plant.

Have you ever made a terrarium? Have any tips & tricks, favorite plants? Share in the comments!

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