Terrariums come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made using small jars and filled with beautiful rainforest plants, and others are large, spacious and include real animals like frogs and reptiles. Large tanks with animals can be expensive to make and maintain, but you can make a fun little wildlife themed terrarium without digging deep into your pocket.
What you need to make a terrarium:
- A glass jar
- Gravel (small stones or rocks)
- Good quality potting mix soil
- Sphagnum moss
- Plants – finding suitable plants is the trickiest part of making a terrarium. What you’re looking for is plants like these, although I just used what I could find! I went on a bushwalk and searched a little creek near my home and found moss and small plants growing all over the place. I transported them in a closed zip-locked plastic bag and they kept perfectly well in there for quite a few days. Make sure you get a variety of plants so that you can play around with them when it’s time to add plants.
Wildlife themed terrarium for kids
Miss Possum and I made animals to go into the terrarium. The animals needed to be completely water proof, so we used a variety of recycled plastics.
- We cut out a butterfly shape using a milk bottle and glued different plastics onto the shape to make it colourful (from bread packets and other coloured plastic material we found in the pantry).
- We used a plastic bread bag to cut out the shape of a snake and used a texta to draw the features on the snake’s body.
- Like the butterfly, we cut out a wombat shape from a milk bottle, but this time glued on a piece of orange balloon to make it colourful.
- You’ll need a plastic tray from a cracker container to make a cave.
- It’s important to sterilise both the jar and the soil before you start. Bacteria, algae and fungi might grow if this step isn’t done properly and it could easily kill all the plants in the terrarium if it takes hold. I put the soil in the microwave for one minute and the jar in the oven on high for 10 minutes.
- Firstly, add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the jar. I used left over gravel from our fish tank. This will allow the water to drain if you accidentally overwater your terrarium. Overwatering a terrarium is worse than it becoming a little dry, so be mindful of the amount of water you tip into the jar.
- Next, add a small layer of crushed charcoal over the gravel. This will prevent the potting mix from going sour.
- I then glued the wombat onto the back of the plastic that would make the cave, then added it into the jar. It was hard to get it sitting correctly but the gravel did secure it well.
- Next add a thin layer of sphagnum moss on top of the charcoal and on the plastic cave. Sphagnum moss is great to keep some moisture in the jar and it helps keep the soil above the gravel.
- Moisten the potting mix before you add it on top of the sphagnum moss. Make sure it’s only moist, not wet. You will need a thickness of at least 3cm.
- Now add your plants. Experiment with your different plants and even stones to make it look like a mini rainforest.
- Add the other plastic animals into the terrarium. We added a rock for the snake to bask on and sat the butterfly on a fern.
Our terrarium is now one month old and still going strong. It really is amazing that you can bring a rainforest inside your home for yourself and your kids. The best part is that it doesn’t cost much, and your children can make it themselves. What a fun and creative way to connect with nature!
Want to learn more about terrariums?
- Here’s beautiful terrariums to get inspired by
- A great website helping to explain how to make a terrarium