How to Plant a Mason Jar Terrarium for Beginners

A Mason jar is a type of container made of glass or ceramics. It has a wide mouth and a threaded lid. Mason jars can be used for canning and preserving food, as well as for storage.

Terrariums are plants that grow in containers. They can be made of any type of material, but Mason jars are a popular choice because they're easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Terrariums can be open or closed, depending on the type of plants you're growing. Mason jars can function as either an open terrarium or a closed terrarium depending on if you want to put the lid on top or not. It's entirely up to you, what your environment is like and what plants you've chosen for your terrarium.

If you're interested in planting a Mason jar terrarium, there are a few things you need to know first. Here's a quick guide on how to plant a Mason jar terrarium for beginners.

List of supplies you'll need:

  • Mason jar
  • Rocks or pebbles
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil
  • Plants
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Optional: Decorations such as miniature figurines, moss, shells, etc.
moss terrarium in mason ball jar

Things to keep in mind when building your terrarium:

  1. Choose the right size Mason jar. Terrariums can be made in any size Mason jar, but it's important to choose one that's appropriate for the plants you're using. If you're only growing a few small plants, a pint-sized Mason jar will suffice. For larger plants, or if you want to create a more dramatic terrarium, go with a quart-sized or half-gallon Mason jar.
  2. Choose the right plants. Not all plants are suitable for terrariums. Plants that require full sun or lots of water will not do well in a closed terrarium, so it's important to choose plants that thrive in humid, low-light conditions. Ferns, mosses, and other small, delicate plants are good choices for terrariums.
  3. Gather your supplies. In addition to your Mason jar and plants, you'll need some gravel or small stones, potting soil, and a spritz bottle of water.
  4. Add the gravel. Add a layer of gravel or small stones to the bottom of your Mason jar. This will help drainage and prevent the roots of your plants from sitting in water.
  5. Add the potting soil. Next, add a layer of potting soil on top of the gravel. Make sure to use potting soil and not garden soil, as garden soil may contain pests or diseases that could harm your plants.
  6. Add the activated carbon or activated charcoal. Activated carbon is a type of charcoal that helps to filter the air in your terrarium. It's optional, but it can help to keep your terrarium looking clean and fresh. Add a layer of activated carbon on top of the potting soil. 
  7. Add the plants. Now it's time to add your plants! Start by adding the largest plants first, then fill in with smaller plants. Once all of your plants are in the jar, gently press down on the soil to secure them in place.
  8. Water the plants. Use a spritz bottle to lightly mist the plants with water. Be sure not to over-water, as this can cause the plants to rot.
  9. Seal the jar (if you want). Once you've added your plants and watered them, it's time to seal the jar. Screw on the lid, then turn the jar upside down and give it a few taps on the counter to make sure everything is secure.
  10. Enjoy your terrarium! Place your terrarium in a spot where it will get indirect sunlight, and mist the plants with water every few days to keep the soil moist. With proper care, your terrarium should last for months or even years.

succulent open terrarium

If you are looking to make a jar terrarium for free (or nearly free), here are some fun tips for you:

  1. Look for containers that you would normally put in your recycling bin like a pickle jar, and clean it off with some glass cleaner. This is a great tip if you don't have any Mason jars on hand.
  2. Check your backyard to find moss and small pebbles.
  3. Check out your local dollar store for small figurines to put in your terrarium. You can also check with friends and family and see if they have any miniature decorations that they want to give away.
  4. Get some small rocks from your backyard or local park. Make sure to sanitize them before you put them inside your terrarium.
  5. You can make a moss terrarium for free if you collect moss in your yard or a local park. If you want to use plants, you can ask a friend for some plants like succulents or small ferns. Perhaps your friend will have some cuttings available that are tiny that they want to get rid of. I find fellow plant friends are always wanting to share their plants, especially when they have too many!
  6. Look on Pinterest for free design ideas and use YouTube for free tutorials on how to make a terrarium and how to care for your terrarium.
  7. Check at the dollar store for a cheap spray bottle to water and care for your terrarium.
  8. If you live near a beach, you can pick up small rocks and pebbles and also shells while you're there.

What potting soil or potting medium should I use in my jar terrarium?

For jar terrariums, it's best to use potting soil that is light and airy. A good quality potting mix will have a variety of ingredients such as peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. Avoid using garden soil in your jar terrarium, as it may contain pests or diseases that could harm you or your plants.

Why should I make a Mason jar terrarium?

Mason jar terrariums are a fun and easy way to bring some life into your home. They're also low-maintenance, so they're perfect for busy people or beginners. Plus, they make great gifts.

orchidarium phalaenopsis orchid inside of terrarium

Is a Mason jar terrarium a good project for kids?

Yes, jar terrariums are a great project for kids! They're easy to make and take care of, and kids will love watching their plants grow.

What other jars or containers are good for terrariums?

In addition to Mason jars, any type of jar with a wide mouth and lid will work for a jar terrarium. Other good options include fish bowls, apothecary jars, or even vases.

Where should I put my Mason jar terrarium inside my house to increase the greenery inside my home?

Here are some clever places you can place your Mason jar terrarium inside your home to increase the greenery inside your home:

  • On a windowsill in your kitchen
  • On a coffee table or end table in your living room
  • On a shelf in your bathroom
  • On your desk at work
  • In your child's bedroom
  • As a centerpiece for your dining room table

Do jar terrariums need sunlight?

Yes, the plants inside your inside terrarium need light. If you place your closed terrarium near a windowsill for indirect light for your plants from a window. If you place your terrarium inside your home in a location that doesn't have a lot of light, you can purchase a grow light and place it inside a lamp and place the closed terrarium near the lamp. Most grow light bulbs are full-spectrum bulbs and look like natural, LED lights. Don't get weird, purple colors. Make sure you get a bulb that is a full spectrum grow bulb so the plants inside your terrarium grow.

How do I care for my terrarium once I've created it?

Your terrarium will need maintenance depending on the kind of plants you have in there. If your plants grow fast, then you will need to open your closed terrariums and cut them back with a small pair of sterilized pruners or sterilized scissors.

Terrariums in jars usually have very small openings at the top. It's hard to reach your hand into a small opening, so I recommend you get a pair long-nose aquarium tweezers so you can reach into the small space and delicately pinch the plant you need to trim back.

Something else that is helpful can be a paintbrush that you can put inside the terrarium and brush away dirt if you make a mess during the initial planting or maintenance.

Moss usually won't require much maintenance or grow too tall to worry about. Moss terrariums are wonderful if you want to set your terrarium under light and forget about it.

You might want to consider getting springtails for help in maintaining your terrarium. Springtails are very small creatures that consume mold and organic matter. They will help keep your terrarium clean and prevent mold from developing. You can purchase springtails online or at some pet stores.

If you have an open jar terrarium, then you will need to water your plants more often than if you had a closed jar terrarium. I recommend you check your open jar terrarium weekly and see how the soil looks and feels.

If the soil is dry, then give the plants a light watering with a spray bottle filled with distilled water or rainwater. Avoid using water from the tap as it might contain chemicals that could harm your plants.

If you have a closed jar terrarium, then you will only need to water your plants every few months. It depends on how often you open your terrarium to air it out.

What's the difference between moss I find outdoors and New Zeland Sphagnum Moss that is harevested and used as part of my potting medium?

Moss that you find outdoors is fine to use in your terrarium if you want. I recommend you give it a good rinse with distilled water or rainwater to remove any dirt, debris, or bugs that might be living in it.

You can find both kinds of Sphagnum moss online or at some garden stores.

building a terrarium with tools like long-nose tweezers

What are some other things I can put inside my jar terrarium?

In addition to plants, you can also add rocks, sand, shells, and small figurines to your terrarium. Be creative and have fun with it! Just make sure whatever you add is clean and won't leak any chemicals into the water inside your jar.

You can also add a small piece of wood or bark for your plants to climb on. I recommend you sterilize any wood or bark you want to add to your jar by boiling it for 30 minutes or baking it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. This will kill any bugs or spores that might be living on it.

When adding rocks, sand, and shells to your jar, make sure they are rinsed well with distilled water or rainwater to remove any dirt, debris, or chemicals that might be on them.

You can also paint the inside of your jar with non-toxic paint to add a pop of color or to create a background for your plants and other objects.

Whether you're looking to add a splash of greenery to your home or get your hands dirty with a fun gardening project, planting a jar terrarium is a great option! Terrariums are easy to care for, making them perfect for beginners, and they add a touch of life and creativity to any space.

Do I need to put a thin layer or a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of my glass jar?

It's up to you how much gravel you want to add to the bottom of your jar. I usually add a thin layer, about 1/2 inch, for drainage.

You can also add a layer of charcoal to help with water filtration and to prevent mold and bacteria from developing.

To plant your jar terrarium, start by adding a layer of gravel or charcoal to the bottom of your jar for drainage. Then, add a layer of Sphagnum moss or potting soil. Add your plants, rocks, sand, shells, and other objects.

Water your plants lightly with distilled water or rainwater. Close your jar terrarium and place it in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.

Let's go over the water cycle that happens inside a terrarium with a lid on top so you understand why there's condensation on the inside of your terrarium.

When the water evaporates from the soil, it rises and hits the cold glass of the jar. This condensation then drips down and waters the plants again, starting the cycle over.

The closed terrarium creates its own little ecosystem and is self-sustaining. However, you will still need to open your jar every few weeks to air it out and to check the moisture level of the soil.

If the soil is dry, then give your plants a light watering with a spray bottle filled with distilled water or rainwater.

Is the condensation bad if it builds up at the bottom of my open terrarium (no lid)?

No, the condensation is not bad and is actually beneficial for your plants. The water that collects at the bottom of your jar is called "dew" and it's a good thing!

The dew provides extra moisture for your plants and helps to keep the air inside your terrarium humid.

You can also use a small funnel to transfer the water from the bottom of your jar back into the soil to help keep things moist.

mason jar closed terrarium

What potting medium is best for inside my terrarium? Should I use all-purpose potting soil or get an airy mix with orchid bard and LECA?

Try to avoid using all-purpose potting soil because it will retain too much water. Use an airy mix with orchid bar, coco coir, a little bit of sphagnum moss and LECA balls so your plants don't sit in a constantly wet medium.


A jar terrarium is a great way to add some life and creativity to any space. They're easy to care for, making them perfect for beginners, and are a great way to get your hands dirty with a fun gardening project. In this article, you will find information on how to make your own mason jar terrarium. Whether you're looking to add a splash of greenery to your home or want to try your hand at gardening, planting a jar terrarium is the perfect option!

Jar terrariums are a fun and easy way to add life and creativity to any space. They're perfect for beginners, and are a great way to get your hands dirty with a fun gardening project. In this article, you will find information on how to make your own mason jar terrarium. The article explains the different components of a jar terrarium, how to plant it, and how to care for it.

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