Kids Go Gardening - terrariums

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When the days are shorter there’s less time to play outdoors winter is a good time to bring a bit of nature indoors! Grow your own houseplants or take it a step further create a magical terrarium!

A terrarium is glass container with plants growing in it. Look around home or in a second hand shop for something to up-cycle into your terrarium. It might be an old glass vase, a fish bowl, or a coffee plunger.

Tropical plants are great for terrariums because they love humidity - damp misty air around their leaves. Look for tiny houseplants in the garden centre.

Once plants start growing, the terrarium becomes a mini climate of its own. The leaves release water vapour (gas), which turns back into liquid on the glass and trickles back down onto the soil, just like rain! If the terrarium has a lid, it can go weeks without watering.

Some terrariums have just one plant. In a large container you can make a fairy forest, Jurassic jungle a tropical rainforest.

What you need:

  • A glass container
  • Some small pebbles
  • Spaghnum moss (or a piece of fabric)
  • Potting mix
  • Small plants
  1. Start with a layer of pebbles, at least 3cm deep (deeper for a larger container). This is for drainage. 
  2. Lay a thin bed of damp sphagnum moss (or fabric) over the pebbles. This stops the potting mix falling down into the pebbles, while letting the water drain through.
  3. Add potting mix, deep enough for your plant roots. Ideally the container should be no more than half full at this stage.
  4. Try out your plant (or plants) until you are happy with your arrangement. Take the plant out of its pot, make a hole and carefully plant it.  A spoon or chopstick may be helpful. Leave some space for plants to grow and spread.

Terrarium care

  • Keep you terrarium where it gets plenty of light but not direct sun. Sun shining through the glass will burn the plants.
  • Make sure your pants are clean of disease. Pick off any leaves that look sick.
  • Water very carefully. Not too much! If there’s condensation on the glass, don’t water.
  • Feed about once a fortnight with houseplant food (1/4 strength).
  • If the terrarium gets crowded you may need to prune off some leaves or take out a whole plant. Remove any plant that looks very sick or dies.

Evapotranspiration happens when a plant releases water onto the outside of its leaves, the liquid water turns into a gas (water vapour) which is released into the air. It’s just like sweating for plants and it cools them down.

Good terrarium plants

Black mondo
Polka dot plant
Baby’s tears
African violet
Spider plant


Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



Indoor terrarium

Suitable small plants for a terrarium

A variety of terrarium jars