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Preparation and planting of your terrarium

Plants in a terrarium should be arranged according to their size.
Photo: Shutterstock
Plants in a glass bottle

Here are the steps to follow in designing your terrarium.


  1. Wash and dry the glass container. In order to keep the inside of the glass clean during assembly, use a cardboard tube to gently pour in the materials.
  2. Adjust the drainage layer to a depth of between 1.5 and 3 cm, depending on the size of your container.
  3. Cover the drainage layer with about 1 cm of charcoal chips.
  4. Cover the drainage material with a soil separator such as a piece of window screen or geotextile. The aim is to let the water drain through while preventing the potting mix from sifting down into the gravel.
  5. Lightly water the potting soil, then add a layer mix deep enough for the plants to root in – about 5 to10 cm, depending on the size of the container.

Generally speaking, certain proportions should be respected. Ideally, all inert materials (drainage and soil) should not be higher than one-third the height of the container. The remaining space is for the plants.


  1. Arrange the plants according to their size and growth habits. If the terrarium will be viewed from only one side, place the tallest plants in back and the lowest in front. If it is to be seen from all sides, place the tallest plants in the middle.
  2. Be careful not to overfill your terrarium – the plants will need room to grow. Make sure you leave enough space between them.
  3. Add some surface decoration. Make sure all material has first been thoroughly cleaned.
  4. Water gently or spray the soil until it is evenly damp, but not soaked. You want to avoid water accumulation in the bottom of the container.
  5. Place the terrarium in a well-lit room, but out of direct sunlight. If there is not enough light, you can use artificial lighting (fluorescent or LED).
  6. Be sure to keep the terrarium away from heat sources such as radiators.

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