Make it at home: miniature garden terrariums

Use unusual glass vessels to create a terrarium

Use unusual glass vessels to create a terrarium

For this month’s make-it-at-home craft activity we’ve taken inspiration from the beautiful landscape photographs by the American photographer Ansel Adams featured in Ansel Adams – Photography from the mountains to the sea, open at the museum on 4 July, until 8 December. We’re going to show you how to make your own mini-landscapes in glass jars, called terrariums.

Terrariums are great fun to make with children, especially when it comes to designing your landscape with plants and rocks.

We’d love to see your terrarium creations. Please do send us photos either by email at web[at]anmm.gov.au or via Instagram, just tag the photo with our username @ANMMuseum.

Let’s get started…

Gather your materials.

Gather your materials.

Materials

  • Large glass jar
  • Soil
  • Propagating sand
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Charcoal pieces (either aquarium charcoal or from a nursery)
  • Small pebbles
  • Plants – you can use succulents or moss (you can find moss growing in the cracks of paths and walls)
  • Rocks and pebbles to decorate with
  • White sand to decorate with
  • A spoon
  • A few bowls to mix things in

Step 1. Make sure your glass jar is nice and clean.

Choose a glass vessel for your terrarium

Choose a glass vessel for your terrarium

Step 2. Place a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the jar – about 1.5 cm deep. (The pebbles act as drainage in your terrarium).

Layer of rocks

Layer of rocks

Step 3. Soak some sphagnum moss in water to rehydrate it.

Squeeze the excess water from the sphagnum moss

Squeeze the excess water from the sphagnum moss

Step 4. Squeeze excess water from the sphagnum moss. Place a thin layer of sphagnum moss on top of the pebbles. (This acts as a filtration system in your terrarium).

Sphagnum moss layer

Sphagnum moss layer

Step 5. Make your soil mix. Two handfuls of soil, one handful of propagating sand and one tablespoon of charcoal. Add about a cup of water and mix. (The charcoal helps to keep your soil fresh, and the sand helps your plants grow).

Soil mix

Soil mix

Step 6. Squeeze excess water from the soil and create a thin layer of soil (about 2 cm) on top of the sphagnum moss in your terrarium.

Squeeze the excess water from the soil mix

Squeeze the excess water from the soil mix

Soil layer

Soil layer

Step 7. Plant your plants or moss, and place large decorative rocks into the soil.

Position your plants and large rocks

Position your plants and large rocks

Step 8. Decorate your terrarium with pebbles, rocks and sand to finish your terrarium.

The finished terrariums!

The finished terrariums!

Tips:

  • If you have made a moss terrarium, pop a lid on your jar to keep the moisture in. This way any moisture that evaporates, will condensate and keep the moss watered.
  • With succulent terrariums, when your plants looks a little thirsty, pour a spoon of water at the base of your plant – this might be one a month.

4 thoughts on “Make it at home: miniature garden terrariums

    • There’s plenty of it around at the moment with the weather being chilly! Keep an eye out in damp areas, especially cracks in walls and paths. I actually harvested two big handfuls from the side of a path in Bowral, NSW on the weekend. Where abouts are you from?

      • I am living in Melbourne right now. I am going to the city this weekend I will have to keep an eye out for moss in the gardens :D

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