How to build a terrarium (9 Steps)?

Terrarium -

How to build a terrarium (9 Steps)?

Terrariums offered for sale on the market are not always suitable for all species. The best solution to have the ideal terrarium is then to build one. For our case, we will build a terrarium intended for standard use.

Some people still wonder what a terrarium is, don't worry, The Vipers House® will explain it all to you! What is a Terrarium? It starts now 🏁 ! In simple terms, a terrarium is a glass container containing plants and miniature decorations, such as pebbles, small characters... Thus creating a miniature ecosystem. These low-maintenance indoor gardens are an attractive way to incorporate plants into your home 🏡 or office while offering great aesthetics and many other benefits.

terrarium on a desk

The terrarium is both a decorative object and a miniature ecosystem. Original and full of charm, it enhances the plants it houses. The particular conditions of culture (humidity, restricted space, rare substrate) imply however some precautions. Making a terrarium is the ideal solution to add greenery in the house. This small indoor garden allows you to customize the decoration of the living room, dining room or office. With a few plants, some potting soil, and a glass container, the result will be very aesthetic. Overview of the garden.

If you are interested in terrariums you are surely interested in snakes, that's why we present you with our beautiful collection of snake silver rings 💍.

snake silver ring

1. Which plants to choose for your terrarium?

The goal is to create a natural environment for the animal. Therefore it must resemble as much as possible to the original envy of the creature. Without forgetting of course the decoration of your home try to take plants exotic enough to give a unique touch to your home. To create a beautiful terrarium, it is advisable to choose plants that require little maintenance. It is advisable to associate species with similar characteristics and to privilege those which remain small at maturity. The choice of plants depends on the size of the container. Among the most used for terrariums, there are many indoor plants🌱:

  • Ferns ;
  • Mosses ;
  • Cacti;
  • Succulents;

Tropical plants are recommended because of their beautiful colors and excellent resistance to humidity. Varieties that prefer shade are also ideal to compose a nice terrarium. On the other hand, Mediterranean herbs are not recommended because they are not very tolerant of humidity. For beginners, it is best to choose a cheap plant that grows easily.

three terrariums

2. What you need for a terrarium?

Regardless of the shape chosen, the container for a terrarium is necessarily made of glass and deep enough to contain the roots of the plants. In an ecological spirit, there is no need to buy a new container. Indeed, it is possible to recycle :

  • a glass bowl ;
  • a fishbowl ;
  • a teapot;
  • a lantern bell;
  • a vase;
  • a glass bottle;

To enjoy a green and original decoration, the ideal is to acquire a container specially designed for growing plants, for example, Ward's crates. Practical, the aquariums can also accommodate a terrarium. It is possible to leave them open or to cover them with a lid.

reptile terrarium

But the lid is not the only thing you need, of course. You need everything that will make up the inside of the container so the environment of the animal. So be creative and dazzle the eyes of your snake, turtle 🐢, or other. These creatures like the vegetative environment in which moisture is present. But also a soil that will have no difference with the original soil. In short, the more you please them the more they will thank you, obviously in their own way. Also, to the glass container and the plants, the following tools will be required:

  • Drained and light soil;
  • Gravel, clay balls, or pebbles to optimize the drainage of the soil while decorating the bottom of the terrarium;
  • A sheet of moss to mop up excess water;
  • Activated carbon to keep the soil fresh in a container without a drainage hole;
  • Decorative objects such as shells, stones, or various accessories.

3. Steps to follow to build a terrarium

Now, this is the step everyone has been waiting for. Whether you are a handyman or any other kind of person, no matter what your job is, you will have to do your best to prepare the ground for your mascot 🐍. Don't worry, we have prepared the steps one by one to make it as easy as possible for you. All you need to do is follow a few rules with the necessary equipment. Before starting, it is important to clean the container thoroughly if it has been recycled. Here are the steps to follow to make a terrarium:

STEP 1: Place the drainage stones at the bottom of the container (2 cm high) by mixing activated carbon and pebbles or gravel ;

STEP 2: Add the plant moss ;

STEP 3: Pour in between 5 and 10 cm of potting soil depending on the dimensions of the terrarium and the length of the plant roots ;

STEP 4: Tap and flatten the surface;

STEP 5: Dig holes and insert plant roots;

STEP 6: Cover their foot with potting soil and tap gently;

STEP 7: Water lightly with a sprayer;

STEP 8: Decorate the terrarium;

STEP 9: If necessary, replace the lid of the container.

Another tip for those who do not have a green thumb: a fake terrarium. Simply decorate a glass jar or lantern with a wooden mushroom or fake plant, add some fake moss, and some pine cones. No more need for sun and watering for this artificial indoor garden!

Here is one example of a terrarium model that can be made:

handcrafted terrarium

4. Ideal conditions for a terrarium

The necessary brightness 🌞

Plants in a terrarium need light. Nevertheless, glass is reflective, so it is best to place it in a place with a high level of indirect light. Fluorescent lights are a good option provided the user complies with safety regulations. To compose atypical suspensions, it is possible to combine three terrariums with four low-voltage bulbs. Light is essential for the proper functioning of the terrarium environment. So you can use bulbs with enough power, but you risk paying a lot in electricity bills and also ecologically, knowing that electricity is a very important energy resource for our planet. So obviously privilege the natural light of our sun. If it is there it is not for nothing. Moreover, the quality of light will be without pair. It's up to you to find a balance between these two components (ecology, quality of life in the terrarium).

The right surface

For an impeccable green interior, it is advisable to avoid installing a terrarium on valuable furniture. The same applies to equipment that gets damaged. Also, it is recommended to choose a location out of the reach of children and pets. Why away from children or pets? It's a question of safety. You will probably have to buy another terrarium within a week. But also your children may be injured by the crystals when the terrarium hits the ground, of course, we are talking about a glass terrarium. So be careful you and your family!

The required temperature 🌡️

The terrarium should be kept in a heated room. However, it is not recommended to place it near an air conditioner or radiator. Also, it is preferable to avoid sudden temperature changes and extremes. The art of the right temperature. If you are a curious person, you know that temperature is one of the most important factors in biology. For both plants and animals this temperature will make them feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Just like humans don't like it when it's too hot or too cold. He likes the average temperature. It is totally the same for animals, and plants. If you give it the right temperature you will have a terrarium with life. So, find out what the ideal temperature is and use temperature control artifacts like the one mentioned above, the best being a thermostat that allows a constant temperature. 

terrarium plant

5. The elements of decoration

The decoration of the terrarium can be adapted according to your needs. Note however that some species have specific needs that must be met, regardless of the style of decoration desired.

  • It is during the decoration phase that you will choose the dominant climate for your terrarium: desert, tropical, subtropical, or temperate.
  • To obtain the ideal climate, work on several elements such as substrate, heating and humidity level.
  • If it is intended for reptiles, don't forget to add branches. If they are comfortable, they can become your pet's favorite places.
  • Depending on the needs, it is also possible to add certain elements such as a watering trough, a backdrop, a cave, or artificial lianas.

6. How to maintain your terrarium?

For an always green and welcoming interior, it is advisable to take good care of the plants. It is essential to water them occasionally (at least once a week) if the terrarium is open. For cacti and other succulent plants, watering once a month is sufficient. Also, it is necessary to remove :

  • Weeds ;
  • Molds ;
  • Wilted flowers;

If the terrarium is airtight, a little fresh air will be good for withered plants. The ideal time for watering is when the soil is dry. If condensation appears on the container, it is advisable to leave it slightly open.

7. 3 mistakes to avoid

3 terrarium mistakes

The terrarium is the new fashionable friend. It's beautiful as anything, doesn't require too much maintenance, and there's something for everyone. No reason not to adopt one, not even the bad excuse of not having a green thumb...

Error n°1: Neglecting the terrarium drainage 💧

Putting soil in any kind of glass container is not enough to make a successful terrarium. Quite the contrary. The survival of a plant in this environment is highly dependent on the drainage of water. It is essential to place clay balls and/or pebbles at the bottom of the pot so that, when the plant is watered, in minute quantities, the water drains to the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the roots from coming into direct contact with the water, which would eventually cause the plant to become moldy. On the contrary, the plant will feed on it only when it needs it.

Error n°2: Leaving a terrarium closed all the time

It was probably one of the first things you saw on Pinterest, the terrarium is available in open containers, but also in closed versions (no worry), either under the bell, in jars with folded lid and other closed glass boxes. Contrary to what you may read, notably on the fact that in closed environments, condensation would allow the plant to be naturally irrigated ad infinitum, a terrarium must never remain exclusively closed! The lid/plug must be opened regularly to aerate the terrarium and prevent the growth of molds and fungi. The independent terrarium does not exist yet...

Error n°3: Putting a terrarium in full sunlight 🌞

Fatty plants and other cacti need sunlight (Don't forget the sun is there for something!). BUT! Putting them in full sun will make them die before their time, be careful. The rays of the sun associated with the glass of your windows would cause a magnifying glass effect on your plants which would then risk severe burning (It is the same principle as the loupe...). It is up to you to find the best place, light, but not directly, and especially not the dark corners of your interior, at the risk of seeing them just as much die.


So to summarize we need plants:

  • Ferns ;
  • Mosses ;
  • Cacti;
  • Succulents.

A container that will hold it all:

  • a glass bowl ;
  • a fishbowl ;
  • a teapot;
  • a lantern bell;
  • a vase;
  • a glass bottle.

Another material:

  • Drained and light soil;
  • Gravel, clay balls, or pebbles to optimize the drainage of the soil while decorating the bottom of the terrarium;
  • A sheet of moss to mop up excess water;
  • Activated carbon to keep the soil fresh in a container without a drainage hole;
  • Decorative objects such as shells, stones, or various accessories.

So now you have everything in your hands to prepare the best home for your sidekick. Don't be stingy, be green, and let your creativity shine through. But above all, find out about your mascot to find out his preferences. The New York Times also talks about terrariums for obvious reasons.

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