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How To Make A Terrarium: How to make a beautiful terrarium in an apothecary jar, using fish tank charcoal to create a micro-climate without mould.

How To Make A Terrarium: How to make a beautiful terrarium in an apothecary jar, using fish tank charcoal to create a micro-climate without mould.

Have you noticed that terrariums are back in fashion? I have a vague memory of being a little girl and my mom making one.   Now I’m starting to see them around again so  I think they’re back.  Today I’m sharing how to make a terrarium in an apothecary jar.

How To Make A Terrarium in a apothecary jar

Creating A Terrarium Micro Climate

Terrariums are traditionally made in a closed container, and the terrarium acts as it’s own little eco-system.

After a little water when they’re first planted, the water stays in the container and re-circulates, creating it’s own little micro-climate.

You can also make them with an open top, which you’ll need to water just like any house plant. I made one of each.

How To Make A Terrarium

Materials For A Terrarium In An Apothecary Jar:

  • glass container
  • rocks for drainage
  • activated carbon charcoal
  • soil
  • plants

How To Make A Terrarium In An Apothecary Jar:

1. To make a terrarium, you start with an inch or two of rocks in the bottom of your container for drainage.


2. Next on top of the rocks add some charcoal to help absorb any excess moisture, and help keep the little eco-system from becoming moldy. Mold = trouble.

I found some charcoal at the pet store with the fish tank equipment. You can buy it loose in large containers, or just look for a little bag designed for fish tank filters -it will be labeled “Activated Carbon”.

Materials to make a Terrarium

using charcoal in a diy Terrarium

3. On top of the rocks and charcoal bag, add in some potting soil. Not too much to start, since you want room for the plants and you can add more around them after.

I wanted to use a mini orchid in my apothecary jar terrarium.  Also I found some little woodland plants at my local nursery.  Moss and fern types work well.

I kept the orchid in it’s own little plastic pot that it came in, since orchids like to be in special orchid soil -being that they’re so special. 😉

The other little plants I used were a little too big, so I broke them up into pieces, and took some of the soil off the bottom. Don’t worry these type of plants can be broken up like this with no damage to them.

small plants for a Terrarium

Terrarium Accessories 

Once the plants were all in, I wanted to add a little spoon sign that said “Love Grows Here”.  I thought it would be especially sweet for Valentine’s Day -and we’re all about sweet around here.

Beginning with a silver spoon I found at an antique fair, I used a hammer to flatten it out.  Next I used metal letter stamps to add the words. Mine are 3mm size.

After the letters are stamped, go over the words with a sharpie, then scour off any excess with a pot scrubber. It leaves a little black in the indentations for the letters and helps them show up better.

love grows here garden spoon

I really love how they turned out. Let’s hope I can keep them happy. I did give them a little drink of water after they were all planted.

For the enclosed one, watch for any condensation that forms on the glass like this. If you get some, just take off the lid for a few hours so it can evaporate.

Also try to plant the plants so that nothing is touching the sides of the glass, it can lead to mold. If you see a leaf dying, remove it because you don’t want anything breaking down, or getting moldy in your terrarium.

How To regulate water in a  Terrarium

apothecary jar terrarium orchid

If your husband usually splurges on Valentine’s Day flowers, maybe you could steer him in the direction of a mini potted orchid. I may or may not have called this one of my own early Valentine’s Day gifts. And, this should last longer than a dozen roses.

How To Make A Terrarium

It’s a snow day here, and man is it snowing outside right now. Everything is white. In the midst of snow and ice, it’s so nice to have something green and living, and a little reminder that although it doesn’t look like it outside today, spring is coming.

With a How To Make A Terrarium project to keep us busy, life really is a party!

You might also enjoy our Terrarium in a Mason Jar here.

Mini Valentine's Day Terrarium in a Mason Jar: how to transform an old mason jar into a beautiful mini terrarium for Valentine's Day.

Also check out our Teacup Fairy Garden here.

You might also enjoy our Teacup Fairy Village Gardens here.

Teacup Fairy Villiage Gardens -use teacups and teapots to create these whimiscal miniature fairy gardens with polymere clay houses and mushrooms.



  1. Hi Ashley,
    The orchid did last quite awhile, maybe about a month if I remember right. But after that I took the terrarium apart and use the container for something else. I’m always changing things around here. Hope this helps.

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