Terrarium Kit Instructions: How to Build Your Terrarium

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This is a simple guide for anyone making a terrarium using an ome terrarium kit.

It is also a great general guide for terrarium-making, though we do also have a more expansive beginner’s guide to terrariums that is worth a peep, too.

Once you’ve set up your terrarium, be sure to double-check our terrarium care advice for the best chance at long-term success.

If you're short on time, here's a quick instructions guide. 

How to Make a Terrarium in 10 Simple Steps 

  1. Clean and prepare materials
  2. Open container and pour in LECA
  3. Pour in activated charcoal
  4. Pour in terrarium substrate mix 
  5. Arrange hardscape
  6. Plant your plants and moss
  7. Plant your moss
  8. Add Finishing deocrative touches
  9. Mist your terrarium
  10. Place the lid back on
Tall Terrarium Kit: Craft your vibrant tropical oasis with this DIY set.

Our Tall Terrarium Kit. Each ome kit is equipped with everything needed to create a wonderous tropical ecosystem. 

What’s Included in an ome Terrarium Kit

You can browse our full range of terrarium kits at our shop.

We offer containers in various shapes and sizes – and each set of plants we send out is totally random – so you’ll always have a new project to experiment with!

Be sure to check the listing description, but our standard terrarium kits include:

  • Glassware + lid
  • LECA
  • Activated charcoal
  • Terrarium substrate
  • Dragon stone
  • Live moss mix
  • Live plants mix

We also recommend the following terrarium tools to make the most from your kit:

1 | Step-by-step Terrarium Kit Instructions

1.        Clean and prepare materials

Terrarium container with cork lid for tropical terrariums

All items in your terrarium kit should be ready for use immediately.

However, inspecting your moss and plants is always worth inspecting to ensure no unwanted hitchhikers aboard.

If you want to be sure, you can soak your moss in distilled water for 5-10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and gently wring the moss before use in the terrarium.

If you include any other materials of your own, i.e. pebbles or ornaments, ensure they’re suitable for the terrarium environment and cleaned accordingly (see our beginner’s guide for more tips!).

2.        Open your container lid and pour in the LECA

Terrarium Kit instructions with LECA being placed inside container

Take the lid off your container and set it to one side.

LECA stands for lightweight expanding clay aggregate. It’s light, sustainable, durable and absorptive.

This means LECA provides ample drainage for your terrarium while still being able to wick water to the substrate if necessary. 

Pour in your LECA and spread evenly along the bottom of the glassware.

  • Pro tip: save some LECA balls for your top-level decoration; they make great little bits of décor!

3.        Pour in activated charcoal

Activated charcoal layer in terrariums

Activated charcoal is an excellent filtration substrate

It is charcoal that has been heat treat to extremely high temperatures and thus has a very high surface area.

It can adsorb harmful chemicals and toxins that may be introduced into your ecosystem.

Distribute your charcoal evenly across your substrate layer.

  • Pro tip: If you need to even out your substrate layers, just give the container a very gentle ‘shake’ until the layers are equal.

4.        Pour in the terrarium substrate mix

Tropical terrarium substrate sloped up for terrariums

Our own special blended tropical mix contains elements perfectly suited to your terrarium plants:

  • Coco coir is highly water-retentive and adept at delivering nutrients to roots
  • Worm castings are a powerful fertiliser that contains mycelium, which can break down organic matter.
  • Black sand is a great aerator and provides ample drainage for the soil.
  • Orchid bark performs the same role as black sand but provides larger breakages in the soil for oxygen distribution.

Pour in your substrate mix.

Spread it across your terrarium, ensuring there is enough substrate in areas where you want to place plants.

Gently pat down your soil without compressing it too much. You’re looking for a firm but bouncy surface.

Finally, give your substrate a light spray with water to ensure malleability.

  • Pro tip: for greater visibility and an increased surface area, try ‘sloping’ your substrate up to the rear of the glassware.

5.        Arrange your hardscape pieces

Dragon stone for use in terrariums

Take your hardscape elements (dragon stone) and gently wedge them into the soil.

Use your hands or a paintbrush to tuck the substrate up against the side of the dragon stone, ensure its stability.

  • Pro tip: You can use your hardscape elements to create a scene. Try arranging them to depict a mountain or cliffside. You can take smaller dragon stone pieces and arrange them into an ‘n’ shape to create a cave entrance.

6.        Planting

Planting inside a terrarium

Now it’s time for the fun part!

Using your finger or a tool, create small holes where you want your plants to go.

Pop the plants out of their pots and carefully remove as much potting soil as possible.

Using your fingers or a pair of tweezers, grip the base of the plant and feed it into the hole.

Use a paintbrush to tuck and press in the soil around the base of the plant.

Repeat as necessary!

Remember, certain plants can be split down into multiple parts – you can spread them around your terrarium.

  • Pro tip: Certain plants, such as Fittonia, can be rootlessly propagated. Take a cutting just above a node (where the leaves split from the stem) and pop the stem in between some moss or into the soil. You’ll get much more from your plant this way.

7.        Place in your moss

Live moss inside a tropical closed terrarium

Break your moss down into chunks to spread around your terrarium.

Moss is quite forgiving, so you should be able to split the moss down into smaller pieces without damaging it.

Moss takes nutrients in through its leaves, so you can also trim off the brown/yellow rhizoids.

Moss can be ‘nestled’ into the soil areas, rather than needing to be planted.

You can also place little bits of moss atop your hardscape to achieve a richer, more complex aesthetic.

  • Pro tip: When using cushion moss, try to ‘ball’ the moss by pinching the edges under the centre of the moss. Keep it together using tweezers and place into your terrarium. This creates a lovely, plump and natural look.

8.        Finishing touches

Adding finishing touches to a terrarium

Now that your terrarium is complete, you can place any finishing touches onto the surface, such as LECA balls or cuttings that you have spare.

When you’re finished, spray your terrarium thoroughly with a mister.

You need even coverage of water, and the top level of soil should look moist.

But, if you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of less water. Overwatering is one of the most common terrarium-making mistakes.

Completed closed terrarium

2 | Conclusion

And that’s it! Not too complicated, huh?

For further reading, make sure to check out our terrarium care guide.

And for a design ideas and terrarium FAQs – have a read of our beginner's guide to terrariums

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