A terrarium that you’ve assembled would make a great Mother’s Day gift, but if the lucky recipient enjoys gardening or crafting, you could also consider giving her all of the components to make her own. I’ll show you how I put mine together below. I have two young kids, so I wanted to add some color and sparkle to my terrarium. The billy buttons are one of my favorite elements too, because I think they look a little like Seuss trees in a landscape.


The project can be completed from start to finish (including clean up) in less than an hour. You’ll need the following:

Glass Terrarium
• rocks and stones as filler
• rocks and stones as decoration
• activated charcoal
• potting soil
• plants (ferns and mosses)
• preserved moss
• billy buttons (Craspedia)

How to Make a Terrarium

Start with a clean and dry glass vessel. Add a layer of rocks along the bottom for drainage, about an inch deep.


Next add a thin layer of charcoal to keep your terrarium’s environment healthy and mold-free. A layer of soil comes next, though I added a layer of small rocks first for a little more visual interest.


Be sure to leave enough room for plants when adding the soil, and keep the leaves away from the glass. If they touch the sides, the condensation could lead to mold or rot.



Add a little more dirt around the plants to create an even, level surface. You could stop there, but this is where you get to add the fun stuff. I chose a hunk of rose quartz and a pink agate slice, along with some pyrite (fool’s gold) and a few polished stones. I also included some billy button stems, which should dry nicely and retain their color and form.



Place the terrarium in a spot where it will get indirect light, give your terrarium a light watering, and replace the lid if there is one. If you see condensation starting to form at any point, open it up and let it air out a bit. If the plants are looking a little sad and droopy, they probably need more water. It should be fairly maintenance free, save for some occasional pruning to keep growth in check.





  • If you include billy buttons like I did, keep an eye on them. They may dry out nicely and be fine, but if not, they may need to be removed and replaced.
  • I added a small bud vase with a pink ranunculus and a few extra billy buttons next to my terrarium. It’s a nice way to add a fresh bloom to complement the lush greenery, and it would be a great way to present the terrarium as a gift, too.
  • If I were to do this project again, I’d be sure that my rocks along the bottom were visible. I used pretty, polished stones, but I didn’t have enough of them and the layer of charcoal nearly covered them completely. Adding a layer of the other, smaller stones, in a few spots before adding the dirt helped visually, but I do wish you could see the others as well!

– Nicole

Want more? Subscribe to Front + Main!

Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely

Nicole Balch is the founder of Making it Lovely, a design blog about living a stylish life and transforming the so-so. Get to know her, or connect with Nicole on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Get the Look

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Make a DIY Terrarium | Making it Lovely

April 17, 2012

[…] glass jar.The full instructions and list of materials needed can be found at west elm’s blog, Front & Main. I also talked about how to care for your terrarium, and what I would have done differently.You […]


April 18, 2012

I want one, can I have one?


April 20, 2012

Looks gorgeous, but putting preserved moss in with live plants in an enclosed terrarium is a really bad idea. It forms mold and eventually kills the other plants.

Wild About: April 20, 2012 | Dearest Nature

April 20, 2012

[…] style crush on Nicole Balch. Everything she creates is marvelous, like this DIY terrarium for West Elm, and her this mini terrarium and fern centerpiece. I wish she had a show on […]


April 25, 2012

Patricia, thanks for the tip. I’ve since removed the moss to be on the safe side!

Related Posts