Making a Terrarium

I’m crazy for moss. I don’t know why, but I love it. If I could, I would live in a house carpeted in moss. More than likely this obsession stems from my fascination with fairies. I never said, but fairies are my favourite mythical creature. Everybody knows how much fairies love moss, right?

Over the years, I’ve tried to bring more moss into my life. The trouble is that moss requires very specific growing conditions and neither my backyard nor my house resembles a shady, moist forest. I’ve tried decorative bowls filled with moss, moss lining my planters and moss edging for the patio. Unfortunately, I’ve killed lots of moss in the process.

This is why I’m so excited about my new terrarium. This enclosed glass mini eco-system should be perfect for keeping moss alive… theoretically.

On Monday, I started gathering together all the essentials for this project. Almost everything I used for the terrarium were found materials, the only thing I purchased was some activated carbon from an aquarium shop. The activated carbon or charcoal is used to filter the water in the terrarium and keep things clean. I used this vintage cracker jar that I had found a few months ago. On my walk with Maisy, I scooped up a small section of moss from the woods, complete with a cute mushroom. My local lumberyard let me grab a handful of gravel and sand for free! When I got home, I divided a small fern we have growing in our front yard.

Into my cleaned out glass jar, I put a layer of gravel with a bit of sand. The gravel provides drainage for the water. On top of that I put a layer of activated carbon. Then a layer of dried moss or sphagnum moss. I have a good collection of dried out/dead moss already. This keeps the soil from getting down into water below. My section of live moss had a nice layer of soil attached to it, so i just cut it to size and evened out the bottom. Once the moss was in the jar, I made a little hole to plant my mini fern. I tried to tamp down the moss and all the layers below to compact it all together. I even put in the acorn cap that was sitting on the moss when I harvested it. A little bit of water was added to get the roots wet and then I put the lid on.

The idea with a closed terrarium is that it is it’s own eco-system. The plants produce oxygen and the water condensates and runs down the glass and waters the plants. If it gets too misty, you can open the lid and let it dry out a bit. After a few weeks, apparently things get sorted out and it just takes cares of itself.

I’m mentally planning more terrariums, but I’ll see how this one progresses. It’s pretty amazing though. It’s like a little green mossy world on my bedside table.

These terrariums by Paula Hayes are a whole other level. {via unruly things}

Terrarium Layers

13 Responses to “MAKING A TERRARIUM”

  • I’ve worked out a trade with Shannon G. to crochet me a terrarium. I also have one of these vintage cracker jars.
    I’ve made my own terrariums with cacti but for some reason the cacti died, well most of them at least. I was careful not to water them just enough but maybe it’s because they were from Ikea and were doomed from the start. This is why I think the crocheted terrarium will be perfect. I will get stones for the jar and everything. Maybe when I get more confidence I could do one of these with moss and ferns…

  • The moss as carpet idea was exactly what I wanted when I was younger. Or nice soft grass. Why don’t they make a carpet that closely resembles grass or moss? (Green shag!)
    I’ve been thinking about putting together a small garden of succulents for a friend who’s birthday is coming up soon. Do you, (or anyone else), know of any good places to buy unusual succulents in the city?

  • Making a terrarium has been on my life-to-do list for as long as I can remember. This post was a good nudge to get my mind thinking green even though soon, a lovely white blanket will tuck life and its greenery to bed. Please keep us informed as to the terrarium’s progress. I’m definitely curious!

    In other news, birthday month has officially started!YES!

  • I also love moss. And terrariums! I recently made a couple with venus fly traps, but you’ve inspired me to go and find some moss.

  • While I know its not quite moss you could always try growing a chamomile lawn. Same kind of look, though not quite as moist, and does have the most heavenly smell when you walk on it. If you like the smell of chamomile that is.

  • angelune – i can only imagine how lovely a crocheted terrarium by shannon will be. i’m horrified to say that already the mushroom has bit the biscuit. i think it’s a bit too moist, so i’ve taken off the lid for a bit. and that toord rug is FANTASTIC. i would definitely take one of those.

    melinda – hmm for succulents, have you tried ‘Poppies’ on Queen? or I wonder if that little plant place at Bloor and Christie has succulents?

    nat – it’s amazing how things get done when they get written down on a list. i’ve been thinking of the terrarium for a while now too. i’ll post a progress report in a week or so, hopefully the mushroom is not a sign of things to come.

    heather – how cool! venus fly traps… are they open terrariums? do you have to find the flies to feed your plants?

    charlotte – i do like chamomile very much, so i’m going to look into it next year. i have lots of different mint plants already and i love catching a whiff when i brush by them.

  • I love moss too. I was in heaven on the west coast in those moss filled forests where even the trees are wearing a coat of moss. Will it survive in the terrarium? The mushrooms too?

  • Look, I have made quite a few terreriums in my time and moss is an elusive creature(much like the fae that live in them). In my Bonsai learning when gathering moss, you are supposed to replicate the conditions EXACTLY from where it came scraggy bog, top of a dog’s tail, mom’s casserole,etc. have you tried(God forbid that I even utter the mere words)store bought moss. You may have more luck with getting it to survive and yes, even thrive, don’t ask me to explain why, but for some enGodly reason it does. Try it…what do you have to lose? I am sworn to secrecy, and sometimes even doctors have to take Let me know how grows it. You know you can even propigate moss by cutting the tops off and planting it. The spores will reproduce nicely, keep moist and not too cold. Make a toadstool from fimo,because real ones will decay and that’s ok in the wildwood, but in a terrarium, not so much. Bev

  • I’ve always wanted to make a terrarium. I everything I need but there was one thing I just thought of, what do you do when the plants get too big? Do you just break them up and maybe make another terrarium with them and on the story goes?

  • I love this idea, but do you bring insect into the house since the moss was from outside?

  • I think the terrarium is pretty cool. I just made one with my boys as a Father’s Day gift, but just used rocks and dirt from our backyard. I sure hope it works out without the charcoal and sand. Hmmm. Thankfully we have a backyard full of moss. It’s lovely!


  • I’m trying to do this with moss from my yard but INSECTS!!!! I’ve been searching around the web on how to remove them from the moss’ soil safely, but I can’t find any answers. I’ve only found that insecticides kill moss so I’m not sure what to do. And I don’t want to buy moss from the store because there’s an abundance at my own house.

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