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Make a Dish Terrarium

A Dish Terrarium is the easiest type of terrarium to make and it can be done using a variety of containers and a variety of plants. Once you have gotten together all the necessary materials you can complete the terrarium in less than an hour. The picture here shows the dish terrarium we will make in this project.


Choosing plants - Almost any type of houseplant will be nice for your terrarium but there are a couple of things I look for. I like to use plants that contrast well with each other. I have ferns with thin leaves, an ivy type plant with broad leaves and a Croton plant with a nice red color. This use of color will make your arrangement particularly attractive. I also like to use plants that have multiple stem and rooting systems. This way I can break them apart and use only a portion. This gives you the ability to choose your own size of the plant and to make more than one dish terrarium.

The dish terrarium

Gather The Materials for your Terrarium


terrarium Materials


Suggested Materials:

  • Small Plants and Flowers
  • Dish (any size but usually bigger is better)
  • Spaghnum or Spanish Moss (in bag)
  • Potting Soil (in the plastic container)
  • Small stones for drainage
  • Tools - spoon and fork are good


The dish

Place a layer of stones on the bottom of the dish. One to two inches deep is sufficient. If you are using a very deep bowl or dish you may want to go 3-4 inches deep. Just leave enough room in the dish for plenty of soil. This layer of stone will allow your terrarium to drain properly and will help to prevent overwatering.

Add sphagnum

Place a layer of Spanish Moss or Spaghnum Moss over the stones. This will allow water to drain down into the bottom while prohibiting the soil from settling down. This is optional but if you have very sensitive plants like some types of flowers this will help to avoid any root rot.

Before you start placing your plants in the dish you may want to place them together on a table and move them around to look for a pleasing arrangement. Imagine how they might look in the dish. Use the variety of shapes and sizes in your arrangement. A variety of heights and widths can make a very pleasant arrangement. Also, in general, you want to use plants in odd numbers. Three of five plants are usually better than two or four.


The plants

Remove a plant from its pot and tear it apart. This potted Palm has a variety of plants so we will use only a few of them in our terrarium. This palm is the tallest plant that we are using so I will place it in the back of the dish. This makes a nice background and will give us a pleasing arrangement. If the roots have taken up much of the pot use a pair of scissors to trim them down.


Add the plants

Place the plant in the dish right on top of the moss. I have chosen to place this plant in the back section of the dish. It will make a nice backdrop.


All the plants

Continue placing your plants. Remember to trim them down and if the roots are out of control use a pair of scissors to trim the roots down too. Notice how I have placed the plants. They make a nice arrangement with the tallest in the back and the shortest in the front. The red Croton plant adds a nice splash of color to the arrangement.


The details

The Details make a difference - You should add some little ornaments or figures to your dish. This will make a nice difference. Here I have added a colorful glass marble. Your Terrarium is complete! Nice!


Premium Kit for Small Terrarium (Succulent, Cactus, and Fairy Garden)

Perfect kit for a first time terrarium gardener or to give as a gift. Provides the exact amount of the specific "ingredients" necessary to build a thriving small terrarium. Will work for closed terrariums, open terrariums, fairy gardens, as well as with succulents and cactii. Kit includes terrarium potting soil, activated charcoal, two different sizes of semi-polished river rocks, shag moss, and complete but easy to follow step-by-step instructions. The ingredients supplied are in the following approximate amounts: 9 oz. soil; 8 oz. small river rocks; 8 oz. larger river rocks; 1 oz. activated charcoal; 1 oz. sheet moss. Great for anyone wanting to set up a terrarium without having to go and find all the different pieces separately. Please note that the kit does NOT include a container or plants. Please also note that this kit is for a SMALL terrarium. We recommend using a mason jar if you are making a closed terrarium or a container with a 4 - 6" diameter if you are making a succulent or cactus terrarium.