Creating Your Own Mini Ecosystem: A Comprehensive Guide to Mason Jar Terrariums


In today’s fast-paced world, finding a moment of tranquility and connection with nature can be a challenge. However, with the resurgence of indoor gardening and DIY projects, it’s easier than ever to bring a piece of the natural world into your home. Mason jar terrariums are a delightful way to create your own miniature ecosystem, providing a serene and low-maintenance way to enjoy the beauty of plants. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of mason jar terrariums, from choosing the right materials to nurturing your tiny garden.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Mason Jar Terrarium?
  2. Benefits of Mason Jar Terrariums
  3. Choosing the Right Container
  4. Selecting the Perfect Plants
  5. Building Your Terrarium
  6. Caring for Your Mason Jar Terrarium
  7. Troubleshooting Common Issues
  8. Creative Terrarium Ideas
  9. Conclusion
  10. What is a Mason Jar Terrarium?

A mason jar terrarium is a self-contained, miniature garden created inside a glass container, typically a mason jar. These enchanting ecosystems mimic the natural water cycle, allowing plants to thrive in a closed environment with minimal care. Mason jar terrariums have gained popularity due to their simplicity, aesthetic appeal, and the sense of wonder they inspire.

The key components of a mason jar terrarium include:

  • Glass container: Usually a mason jar, but other glass containers with a lid or cork stopper can also be used.
  • Gravel or pebbles: Placed at the bottom to facilitate drainage.
  • Activated charcoal: Used to filter the air and prevent mold and odors.
  • Potting mix: A blend of soil and other organic materials to support plant growth.
  • Plants: Chosen for their adaptability to a closed environment.
  • Decorative elements: Optional items like small figurines, stones, or colored sand to enhance the terrarium’s visual appeal.
  • Water: To create a closed ecosystem, only a small amount of water is needed initially, and the jar is sealed to minimize evaporation.
  1. Benefits of Mason Jar Terrariums

Mason jar terrariums offer numerous advantages that make them an attractive option for both experienced gardeners and beginners:

a. Low Maintenance: Terrariums require minimal upkeep compared to traditional gardens. Once set up, they can thrive for weeks or even months without much intervention.

b. Space-Saving: Perfect for small living spaces, mason jar terrariums allow you to bring nature indoors without taking up much room.

c. Aesthetic Appeal: These miniature gardens make charming decorative pieces that can enhance any room’s ambiance.

d. Educational: Mason jar terrariums offer an opportunity to observe the natural processes of plant growth, condensation, and water cycling up close, making them excellent educational tools for both children and adults.

e. Customizable: You can personalize your terrarium by choosing various plants, containers, and decorative elements to match your style and taste.

  1. Choosing the Right Container

Selecting the right container is the first step in creating a successful mason jar terrarium. While mason jars are the most popular choice, you can also use other glass containers like fish tanks, vases, or even antique apothecary jars. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your container:

  • Size: The size of your container will determine the number and size of plants you can include. Smaller jars are ideal for beginners, as they require less maintenance and are less prone to issues like overwatering.
  • Lid or No Lid: Decide whether you want a container with a lid or one that remains open. Closed containers create a self-sustaining ecosystem, while open containers may require more frequent watering.
  • Shape: Choose a container shape that appeals to you and complements your home decor. Classic mason jars provide a rustic and timeless look.
  • Transparency: Opt for a clear glass container to fully appreciate the beauty of your terrarium and observe its inner workings.
  1. Selecting the Perfect Plants

Choosing the right plants is crucial for the success of your mason jar terrarium. You’ll want to select plants that thrive in a closed environment with high humidity and low light. Here are some popular terrarium plant options:

  • Air Plants (Tillandsia): These epiphytic plants are perfect for terrariums as they require minimal soil and can absorb nutrients and water from the air. They come in various shapes and sizes, adding uniqueness to your terrarium.
  • Succulents: Many succulents are well-suited for closed terrariums, as they are adapted to thrive in arid conditions. Some excellent choices include Haworthia, Echeveria, and Sedum varieties.
  • Moss: Mosses are ideal for adding a lush, carpet-like appearance to your terrarium. They thrive in moist, low-light conditions and can create a charming woodland atmosphere.
  • Ferns: Certain fern species, like maidenhair ferns or button ferns, can thrive in the humidity of a closed terrarium. They provide an elegant and feathery appearance.
  • Fittonia: Also known as nerve plants, Fittonia species are well-suited for closed terrariums due to their love for high humidity and low light. Their vibrant leaves add a pop of color.

When selecting plants, consider their growth habits and ensure they are compatible in terms of light and water requirements. It’s also a good idea to choose plants of varying heights and textures to create a visually appealing terrarium.

  1. Building Your Terrarium

Now that you have your container and plants ready, it’s time to assemble your mason jar terrarium. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

Materials Needed:

  • Glass container with lid
  • Gravel or small pebbles
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting mix (suitable for your chosen plants)
  • Plants
  • Decorative elements (optional)
  • Spray bottle filled with water


a. Layer 1: Gravel or Pebbles

  • Begin by adding a layer of gravel or small pebbles to the bottom of your container. This layer serves as a drainage system to prevent water from sitting at the roots of your plants, which can lead to root rot.

b. Layer 2: Activated Charcoal

  • Sprinkle a thin layer of activated charcoal over the gravel. This charcoal layer helps filter the air inside the terrarium, reducing the risk of mold and unpleasant odors.

c. Layer 3: Potting Mix

  • Add a layer of potting mix suitable for your chosen plants. Make sure the depth is sufficient for the roots to grow but leave enough space for your plants.

d. Planting

  • Carefully plant your selected plants in the potting mix, arranging them to your liking. Use a small tool, like chopsticks or tweezers, to assist with planting if necessary.

e. Decorative Elements (Optional)

  • If you wish to add decorative elements such as figurines, stones, or colored sand, now is the time to do so. These elements can enhance the visual appeal of your terrarium.

f. Watering

  • Use a spray bottle to lightly moisten the soil and plants. Be cautious not to overwater, as excess moisture can lead to mold growth. Start with a small amount of water and add more if needed.


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