- glass jar with lid
- small stones or gravel
- indoor potting soil
- moss, lichen, and other tiny found objects
I saw a lot of pretty, rounded stones in the yard, so I collected them to add to my jar.
They were a bit dirty, so I washed them in a wash tub outside. No point bringing the dirt inside the house.
Then I put the rocks in my jar and added aquarium gravel on top. I think I could have skipped the aquarium gravel, but I wanted a barrier to keep the soil higher up.
The gravel is for drainage. All the water will drain to the bottom and you can quickly tell if you accidentally overwatered your terrarium.
Next, add a layer of charcoal. I read that this keeps the water in your terrarium from becoming stale. I found my bag of potting charcoal at Home Depot for about $2.97.
After the charcoal, add indoor potting soil. Don't use garden soil as it has bugs in it. If you don't want your soil to trickle down to your rocks, add a layer of sphagnum moss as a barrier before you add the soil. It will help to hold moisture too. I couldn't find sphagnum moss anywhere, so I skipped it and opted for a potting soil that had sphagnum moss added in already.
My favourite part of this whole process was moss hunting. You'll want to find slow growing mosses so don't choose the large varieties that take over your lawn. Pick the tiniest varieties that grow in mini patches on rocks or trees. I found some pretty, bright green, star-like ones on the cracks of my rock path, some very tiny, dense-growing mosses under a big tree where no grass was growing, and a sort of shaggy moss on the tree bark. I also collected some tiny pine cones, and a bit of greyish white lichen from a tree.
I took my handful of green treasures back and scraped most of the natural soil off, leaving the roots intact. I didn't want to leave any soil on the mosses that might have insects or insect eggs inside of it. I suspect I could have rinsed the dirt off more cleanly in water, but scraping the soil off seemed to do the trick. Then I arranged them inside my jar. I left room around the mosses so that they have space to grow into. Then I trickled water all over my new moss garden, wiped the glass walls clean, closed the lid, and voila! It was ready to enjoy!
Almost immediately, condensation formed on the glass walls in the sealed jar. This will be your indicator of when to water your terrarium. When there is no condensation on the glass anymore, it is time to add water. Also keep an eye on your drainage rocks to make sure you are not drowning your plants.
Your moss terrarium will grow best in non-direct sunlight, like near a window on your desk. Just think of the kind of places mosses normally grow well in.
I am excited to see how my moss terrarium will look when the moss grows in a bit more. It's fun to have many different varieties in one jar! I found the smaller jar with the black lid on my garden shelf and decided to make another moss terrarium. That one has only one variety of the tiny, densely growing moss. I think it will eventually form the bumpy green terrain which I see most commonly in moss terrariums for sale. It is my little experiment on what happens if I only use one moss variety.
I find it very soothing to look at these moss terrariums because the moss looks so bright and lively against the light, and everything is so tiny! I also like the different coloured layers, and I think it would be fun to experiment more with that.
I hope you have fun making your very own moss terrarium.
Have a lovely day!
UPDATE: You cannot seal the lid to the jar for long periods of time. The contents will start to rot. I resorted to leaving the lid on, but not closed shut. That is working out well for me. The moss started to grow into areas not previous covered by moss, and it creeps up the sides of the jar a little too :)