To create a terrarium you will need:a glass container - ball jar, fish bowls, apothecary jars, hurricane jars, etc.
potting soil - cactus soil if you are using succulents
short plants - small tropical plants if you are using regular potting soil, cacti or succulents together in cactus soil for a drier terrarium. We purchased a few more established succulents and divided them up to share with our friends.
vintage toys, sculpey figures, or other tiny friends
soil cover or other small rocks
We didn't use, but may wish we had:activated charcoal
more rocks for the bottom of the container
We purchased this beautiful glass lidded jar at Hobby Lobby - with a coupon it was around $20. I've since found several other beautiful jars at TJMax for even less. When we were shopping for plants I could not resist the tiny succulents. There are so many unique beautiful varieties, it was nearly impossible to choose just five for our terrarium. I love succulents because so many look like tiny trees, making them perfect for the miniature environment we wanted to create. The taller white fuzzy one in our terrarium is called kalanchoe eriophylla and we got a beautiful golden green groundcover that I believe is a form of stonecrop.
Other tutorials I've read online recommend placing activated charcoal in the bottom of closed terrariums to help purify water and prevent rotting roots. Time will tell if we should have put some in the bottom of our closed terrarium. If you are planning on using a lidded container, it might not hurt to place some charcoal in the bottom, as well as a layer of small rocks to make sure the roots don't sit in water at the bottom. Next fill with soil partway (potting soil or cactus soil, depending on type of plants), arrange plants with room for each to grow and top off with lightly patted soil around each. Make sure to leave your plants some height as well as space around each to grow. Trim back taller plants if necessary.
I've learned with past succulents (r.i.p.) that good drainage and airflow are important to keeping them alive, so I'm considering leaving our succulent kingdom permanently open on top - despite the jar's beautiful lid. We've been leaving the top off when we see moisture collecting on the side of the container, and we waited two weeks to give it a thimble full of water. The tiny plants are all thriving and growing so for now it's a success. If it gets too humid in there this summer, I may opt for some tropical plants in the lidded jar and transplant the succulents to an open air container.
I had so much fun creating our first terrarium, I decided to create a second smaller one with an open top. This time I put a layer of activated charcoal and rocks in the bottom. It seemed like the perfect habitat for my vintage white horse and rider. This globe is now living on our mantle.
I had several plants that needed to be trimmed in the process of planting the terrarium, so I dried them for a few days to let the ends heal and then put them in soil to see if they will propagate. I read not to water them until they develop roots, so despite wanting to fuss over them I've let them be with a light misting. We'll see what happens!
Here are a few lovely terrarium tutorials to take a look at:
DIY Succulent Terrarium from BirdHouse
Saturday Craft: How to Make a Terrarium from GussySews
Terrarium 101 from Nesting Place