Terrariums Shmerrariums

Terrariums! Tiny ecosystems on your non-virtual desk top.   I’ve been collecting pictures of them over on Pinterest for quite a while now and occasionally take a moment or two to drool over them.

With four cats, any plant introduced into our house is quickly eaten, pee’d upon, or knocked over.  So, no leafy greens for us inside.  This is probably for the best because I pride myself on how fast I can actually kill a houseplant. But a terrarium is entirely self contained in a jar.  Now that, my friends, is cat-unfriendly!

This is the first terrarium I found on Pinterest, which includes a tiny cemetery…in my estimation that makes it about the best dang terrarium EVAH!

I see no dead people.

This next terrarium has moss to die for in it and I wish I had been able to find some so lush and green. Perhaps if I had done the moss hunting in the spring I would have had better luck.


I love the use of the glass tea pot.  I have a glass Bodum teapot but with my tea-drinking husband, I didn’t dare use it for a planter.

What we did wind up doing was collecting jars (mostly Manzanetta pepper jars – Don’t Forgetta!)  and a few from the MIL.

We wanted our terrariums to be kid friendly so a few weeks back I broke out the clay and made some sculptures. While Lily was busy making a dinosaur and Peter was busy making a clay version of Lily’s rainbow shark, Finnegan, I was busy making toadstools. Thinking ahead, I was.

Here’s what we came up with:

The complete collection

Here’s how we did it with our very limited budget.

1. Saved our jars and asked family/friends for extras.
2. Painted the lids with craft paint – three coats for maximum coverage.
3. For the Ball jars I decoupaged scrapbook paper to the lid and painted the rings.  You can make your own modge-podge, did you know? Check that tutorial out here.
4. Collected pebbles/rocks from the gully out back.
5. Used left over potting soil from our container garden.
6. Used left over aquarium charcoal from our fish tanks.
7. Raided Lily’s toy bin for tiny plastic critters.
8. Raided my rock collection for decorative rocks.
9. Used Fimo and Sculpey from existing stash to create toadstools.
10. Peeled moss up from under the back deck.
11. Raided the lawn for tiny scraps of clover for the “plant” effect.

Yellow Ant is yellow and ant-ish.

The jars are layered thus:

1. 1/2″ pebbles/rocks
2. 1/2″ of aquarium charcoal (this keeps the stinky away!)
3. 2″ potting soil
4. layer of moss
5. spritzed with water
6. added do-dads
7. ta-da!

Condensation forms nearly immediately after closing up the jar.  When this disappears it’s time to open ‘er up and spritz again.  We did 10 sprays per jar.

Stay! Good dog.

What we learned:

1. Bigger jars = more surface area = better viewing.
2. Aquarium charcoal is toxic to animals so be sure to pick up any that falls on the floor! (no animals were harmed in the making of our terrariums.)
3. Bugs like to live in the bottom layer of moss when you find it in your yard – be sure to shake them out before you bring them in the house.
4. Terrariums aren’t for carrying around, or for holding while jumping in place –  do-dads tend to fall over when doing this.
5. Without moving parts, Mario, music, or crazy lights and sound effects, kids may lose interest rapidly.

I love moose.

Now, if we’d had money to spare for things like this, I would have loved to buy a large glass jar and the lushest moss I could find.  But, we worked with what we had and the kids had fun building them.

Top down view!

Have you ever made a terrarium?  I would love to see… provide a link in the comments so I can check them out! 🙂

0 thoughts on “Terrariums Shmerrariums

  1. I haven't thought about terarriams for years! Yours are lovely. We have 5 cats and you are so right about that. I just found your blog and love your stitcheries! You have my friend, Kate's button on your blog (OMA's Patch). She is a really nice woman. I look forward to getting to know you better too.

  2. These are so fun! I've never made one but they are really adorable and isn't everything cooler in miniature? I love the little graveyard- awesome for Halloween. I'll have to look into making some. Thanks for sharing!

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