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!

Trend Watch: Terrariums & Small Plants | Wills Casa

April 26, 2012

[…] Nicole’s DIY Terrarium on Front & Main […]

Sandra Ellzey

April 26, 2012

Nicole, once you removed the preserved moss, what did you replace it with?


April 26, 2012

Thanks Nicole for removing the moss, when I saw that I was thinking, “Oh Nooooooooooooo.”


April 26, 2012

Nothing yet, but I may pick up another live moss. Or just wait for what’s in there to grow and spread out a bit.


April 29, 2012

This looks darling! Where do you purchase your billy buttons? They’re just the perfect little accent flowers.


May 2, 2012

I’ve found billy buttons at Sprout Home! They have a bunch of really fab accessories for terraniums. Thanks for all the tips!


May 11, 2012

Hey guys, here’s a follow-up on how my terrarium is doing…

The type of plant I chose is a little problematic because it drops leaves a lot, and if I don’t find them all, they start to mold! So I’ll probably be taking it out and replacing it with a fern.

Also, the billy buttons only lasted about two weeks before I had to swap them out. In an open-air terrarium, they would dry out nicely and retain their form and color, but in a closed system, they need to be taken out and replaced.

And Jane and Evan, I found all of my supplies at Sprout Home.

DIY Terrarium | Cinder Magazine

May 11, 2012

[…] loved this idea from Making It Lovely – A DIY Terrarium a post Nicole Balch wrote for West Elm. We just had to share it with you! For more Terrarium ideas check out this book: Terrarium […]

Last Minute Inspiration: DIY Mother’s Day Gifts : Wantist

May 12, 2012

[…] Mother’s Day Terrarium by Making It Lovely […]


June 15, 2012

How about mini cactus? Our home depot has a wide variety.

Bandwagon Jumping: DIY Terrarium | honeyandbrash

June 25, 2012

[…] you’re ready to graduate to advanced terrarium making? Peek at this, this, […]

birthday stuff | leila street

July 10, 2012

[…] here’s a nice terrarium how-to. ShareEmailFacebookDiggRedditTwitterStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first […]

Joni Godbout

July 19, 2012

What a beautiful terrarium.I’ve learned from trial and error with all the terrariums I’ve made that not everything works together. I’m guessing it was the variegated-leaf plant that starting dropping leaves? I’ve found that ferns are always a good choice. I love that you added the pretty rocks and the small vase on the side. I’ve added miniature frilly chairs and tables to my terrariums, little figures found in thrift shops. I have a small deer peeking out from a fern in a terrarium on my coffee table. My grand kids are fascinated by it! keep on planting!


October 3, 2012

[…] saw this idea here couple days ago — and always thought it would be so fun to do these […]


December 24, 2012

I always put a layer of moss between the charcoal and the potting soil to act as a filter. Also, don’t use regular potting soil, particularly the kind designed to reduce watering need. A very fine potting soil specially formulated for terrarium use will prevent all kinds of terrarium maladies. 🙂


January 8, 2013

how do you prevent the soil from seeping between the rocks. when I’ve tried making the terrarium, the soil just gets in between the rocks and you can no longer see the rocks. Would smaller rocks be better?



January 15, 2013

We use burlap to put between the rocks and soli

Social Simplified

January 22, 2013

[…] Furniture chain West Elm did a great job of this with their How To Make a Terrarium video and step-by-step photo tutorial. […]

How To Make A Lovely Terrarium

February 11, 2013

[…] Tutorial on Making a Terrarium by Nicole Balch Comments commentsPowered by Facebook Comments Filed Under: 00 s, Gardening,Planting & Outdoor Projects, General, Houseplants Tagged With: terrarium Subscribe For Updates Enter your email address below to receive a daily update with the best of Home Tips World Follow Us! DIY Projects & Crafts […]

Friday Finds: DIY Terrariums | Jade and Fern

March 15, 2013

[…] Four. […]

B is for Birthdays and Beautiful Terrariums | dutchie love

April 25, 2013

[…] Left: Modest Peach Geometric Terrarium  |  Right: Terrarium by Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely via West Elm […]

5 ideas for Mama | Fibro Feist

May 2, 2013

[…] Bring some nature to her inside. Pick up an interesting glass container (West Elm always has some great ones) and scout out a nursery that has a wide variety of succulents to choose from. Follow this guide or […]

Weekend Links: Mom’s edition

May 3, 2013

[…] create a terrarium for mom from Nicole Balch at Front & Main […]

Ridiculously Awesome Terrariums! – DIY Savvy Home

June 14, 2013

How To Make A DIY Terrarium — DIY Color Burst

August 13, 2013

[…] How To Make A DIY Terrarium […]

Inspired By: DIY Terrariums Jade and Fern

September 21, 2013

[…]  Three || Four || Five […]

Afternoon Chat & Some Iced Coffee | Love & Strawberries

September 26, 2013

[…] Image via Front & Main […]

G is for Gardening – The ABCs of Homeschooling {guest post – Vicki} – My Joy-Filled Life

January 4, 2014

[…] Or try an even larger version. […]


February 19, 2014

Thats very nice.I want to make 1 now. Thanxs sounds easy enough Thanxs to u.


February 20, 2014

Awesome 🙂 thanks for sharing.

Decorating With Rocks And Minerals

March 19, 2014

[…] Don’t be afraid to use distinct specimens in your gardening efforts, as shown by the agate and rose quartz below. These pieces are included as part of a Mother’s Day Terrarium idea from Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. [via West Elm] […]

cathy nason.

March 30, 2014

thank u so much,love the idea and with such great instructions too

手工教程::迷你盆景 | Life611生活家居杂志

April 2, 2014

[…] via […]

DIY Terrarium | A Bada Bing!

April 18, 2014

[…] can also add some other large rocks, wood or other items of visual interest. I like these billy buttons for a pop of […]

Mother’s Day Terrarium | Copycat Crafts

April 29, 2014

[…] LINK: Mother’s Day Terrarium by Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely – Front + Main : Front + Main. […]

Creative Collections: Mother’s Day | a project at a time

May 7, 2014

[…] Terrarium by Front + Main […]

Cindy Mears

July 7, 2014

Hello, I just purchased the terrarium with is glass enclosed with the concrete bottom. I am really stumped at how to organize it. Please can you point me in the direction of instructions?


September 2, 2014

What type of plants did you use?


September 2, 2014

I am excited to make this terrarium….can’t wait to go to the store and buy all the “ingredients” that I need. Thank you for this lovely idea!!


September 7, 2014

This is pretty cool but what charcoal are you talking about and were do I get it

10 gift ideas with flowers » Homeology

September 26, 2014

[…] have the space. Combine the plants with Billy Button flowers for a splash of color. Follow this step by step guide to make your […]

How To Make A DIY Terrarium

November 24, 2014

[…] Image Source: […]

DIY Terrarium • a bada bing!

December 15, 2014

[…] can also add some other large rocks, wood or other items of visual interest. I like these billy buttons for a pop of […]

Keep your home green with a simple DIY terrarium | Nancy Messieh

January 27, 2015

[…] Billy button terrarium […]


February 23, 2015

I would like to buy this glass tall jar


March 7, 2015

About the rocks and their visibility, I was thinking that maybe if when the first layer of rocks are put down like a well, lower in the center than on the sides. That might give the visual of more rocks. Just thinking out loud.


March 26, 2015

that’s beautiful. it looked way beyond my capability. thank you for giving simple instructions and even your, “if I were to do this project again” part. this or 1 similar will be in our collection of indoor plants real soon.


May 6, 2015

Thank you for all the tips. Will now plant my terrarium with less fear of mold. Beautifully done.

Related Posts