The jungle in a jar - planting a terrarium

Houseplants have made a searing comeback and no well-dressed home is complete without a dash of stylish greenery. For those who prefer their plants a little more contained, a terrarium can be the perfect option. 

What is a terrarium? A terrarium is simply a glass container used to create an indoor mini-garden with soil and plants. The size of your terrarium depends on you but the principal is the same however big or small. A terrarium creates its own micro-climate, sustained and protected by the glass, while allowing for the circulation of moisture. Our houseplant expert, Ria Miles has put together a step by step guide to creating your own jungle in a jar!



Houseplant compost




The amounts required will depend on the size of your terrarium but the guide below will demonstrate the relative quantities needed! If you are going to seal your terrarium, remember to include some activated charcoal to help absorb any impurities. Before you get started have a think about the sort of plants you want and where you want to stand your terrarium. It’s best to avoid proximity to radiators and be aware that a south-facing window will subject the plants to very strong light. Once you’ve chosen your plants, given them a pre-planting drink and decided how you’ll arrange them, you're ready to begin!

Place a layer of grit at the bottom of the terrarium to allow for drainage – a couple of inches should do the trick.

Add a layer of compost on top of the gravel.

Place your plants in your terrarium, planting them just a little way into the compost, allowing sufficient room around the outside for backfilling with more compost.

Once all the plants are in position, backfill carefully to cover the roots and bring the compost level with the base of the plants. I use a spoon to do this and I take care to cover the foliage with my other hand so not to cover the plants with compost.

Having gently firmed in the plants, tear yourself some pieces of moss to place over the surface of the compost. Try and cover all of the compost. If you are planting succulents, use gravel rather than moss. Not only will it be better for the plants (less damp), it will look much more stylish! Once complete, give your terrarium a very gentle water and you’re done!


Terrariums tend not to need a huge amount of watering but if required water gently and use the gravel as a guide – don’t have water higher than the gravel otherwise everything will just be soggy. You may need to trim the plants on occasion but otherwise the terrarium should look after itself!