How to Make a Terrarium in a Jar

Updated on May 8, 2019
Joe Macho profile image

Zach's writing ranges from matters of gardening, cooking, aquariums, and fish to more niche topics like coin collecting.

I'm a firm believer that if you want a garden, you should have a garden! Yet, when I ask people why they don't have one, I'm bombarded with a variety of different reasons. The most common of these tend to be a lack of space, very little available sunlight, or that they just can't seem to keep anything green alive. While they are valid reasons for most setups, they crumble when faced with the moss garden in a jar. Requiring very little space, sunlight, and even caring touch from the gardener, moss terrariums are for everyone! Better yet, they're virtually self-sustaining and can be constructed from materials commonly found around your home. Keep reading to find out how to make a terrarium in a jar so that you can finally have the garden you've always wanted!

Why a Small Terrarium?

Moss terrariums are the perfect way to add a little greenery to your tight living quarters! Apartments, dorm rooms, or a spare bedroom will all benefit from the relaxing touch of a tiny terrarium. It doesn't stop there though! Since these micro gardens require very little sunlight, they can be placed just about anywhere, making them fascinating centerpieces at kitchen tables and valuable learning experiences in a child's bedroom. Whether it's just you, or your whole family, everyone is bound to enjoy a homemade moss terrarium!

Supplies Needed

When it comes to setting up your tabletop terrarium, there are a few crucial supplies that will be required. Luckily, all of the supplies needed can be sourced for little or no cost at all! Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Glass Jar With Lid: Any glass jar that has a lid can be used. Size doesn't matter, but the opening on the top does. If you wish to move the garden around frequently or wipe down the inside glass, a large opening may be desired. Jars with small openings will be much harder to arrange, but are still a viable option. Plastic containers may be used as well, but do not provide the clarity for viewing that glass does.
  • Small Pebbles: Placed at the bottom of the terrarium, these rocks serve as a drainage area for any excess moisture.
  • Dried Sphagnum or Peat Moss: A layer of dried moss is placed on top of the small pebbles to keep the potting soil from falling down into the drainage reservoir. This layer also acts as a small wick to move excess moisture in the pebbles up to the soil. You might not have dried moss around your home, but almost every pet store sells it at a very inexpensive price.
  • Potting Soil: This is the final layer in which the moss will actually grow on. The potting soil does not need to be nutrient rich.
  • Decorations: Although they are not necessary, rocks, small branches or other decorative pieces can create that special touch you're looking to for.

Moss Terrariums in jars. The one on the left was made from an old pickle jar, while the one on the right was constructed from an apple cider glass jug.
Moss Terrariums in jars. The one on the left was made from an old pickle jar, while the one on the right was constructed from an apple cider glass jug.

Moss for Terrariums

Although it's possible to purchase different mosses for your terrarium, it's really not necessary! Moss is abundant across the world and thrives in all sorts of climates, so there's a good chance that there's some nearby you right now! In humid climates, moss should be very easy to find and harvest. For those living in arid climates like myself, you just have to look a bit harder. Here's how to easily locate and responsibly harvest wild moss from around your home:

Living moss terrarium. While this jar is very unique, the small opening makes moving moss and decorations almost impossible!
Living moss terrarium. While this jar is very unique, the small opening makes moving moss and decorations almost impossible!

Find and Harvest Your Moss Responsibly

  • Locating the Moss: This will be a no-brainer for people living in humid climates, as you'll be able easily find moss just about everywhere! For arid climates, look to the shade and places where liquid water is more likely to be available. I was able to find some moss growing in my apartment's parking lot. This particular clump was situated in a crack of the asphalt, and was directly under the shade of a nearby tree.
  • Responsible Harvesting: Once you have located a suitable clump of moss, harvesting is a breeze. With a butter knife or even your fingers, gently lift up the moss taking a good portion of the medium it is growing on with it. The moss and growing medium can then be placed in a sealed Ziploc bag until your ready to plant it in your terrarium. When harvesting, take only small pieces from the donor clump. These small pieces will spread quickly in your terrarium and will ensure the full recovery of the original clump!

How to Make and Care for a Terrarium in a Jar

Once you've gathered your supplies and moss, you're ready to set up and care for your terrarium. Here's how to do it:

How to make a terrarium in a jar. Compared to the apple cider jug, this pickle jar has a much larger opening and is a lot easier to work in.
How to make a terrarium in a jar. Compared to the apple cider jug, this pickle jar has a much larger opening and is a lot easier to work in.
  1. Line the bottom of the bottle with small pebbles. You'll want this layer to be 1-2 inches deep to provide proper drainage.
  2. Add the dried sphagnum or peat moss on top of the pebbles. This layer will only need to be thick enough to completely cover the rocks.
  3. On top of the dried moss, arrange a layer of damp potting soil. Since mosses do not have traditional roots, the layer of soil does not need to be very thick. A half inch of soil will be plenty.
  4. Arrange the small clumps of moss and decorations as desired.
  5. With a spray bottle, gently mist the terrarium until a thin layer of excess water develops in the pebble reservoir. Finish by loosely placing the lid on the jar.
  6. Situate the finished terrarium in an area that receives 1-2 hours of sunlight, or under artificial lighting.
  7. Watering should only be conducted when no condensation forms on the inside of the terrarium. Under normal conditions, a light misting should only be needed once every 1-2 months.

Don't Stop With Moss

I used moss as an example in this guide on how to set up a terrarium in a jar, but there are so many different options you can choose from! To help illustrate the larger picture of what can be grown in a jar, please reference this list of plants:

  • Ferns
  • Cactus
  • Succulents
  • Begonias
  • Orchids
  • Aquamarine
  • Grasses
  • Venus Fly Traps

As a reader of this guide, I have . . .

See results

Get Creative!

Simply put, there's no more excuses as to why you can't have your very own garden! Moss terrariums are by far the easiest of gardens to care for and offer a great deal of room for creativity. Adventure out, find some moss, and then landscape to create the garden you've always desired. It's just that easy.

Thanks for reading this guide on how to make a terrarium in a jar! Please feel free to post any questions or comments you may have.

Do You Know Moss?

view quiz statistics

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      6 months ago

      How often do you open the lid to give it air? Or do you do that at all? I'm going to make a micro moss terrarium out of a glass starbucks bottle.

    • profile image


      21 months ago


    • profile image


      23 months ago

      This provided a very useful way to start using all the fish tank decorations that I had laying around. A nice little castle on the moss looks good!

    • profile image

      elisabetta palau 

      23 months ago


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      What sort of plants should I use with a tight-fitting lid on my jar?

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      6 years ago from The Netherlands

      Nice. Never thought of having a Terrarium. You did a fine job in proving me (and many others probably too) wrong. Voted up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I remember making one of these years ago and now that I read your advice, I think I know why it failed to thrive. We overwatered. Your tip makes sense: water when there's no condensation. I think these terrariums are great in a kitchen window -- brings life to the scene.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 

      6 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      What a wonderful idea. This would make a fun project to do with the kids. Thank you for the idea. The moss looks beautiful - and in the warmer months, I always have a few patches growing - so it looks like I need to try this.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)