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The crafting world seems to have come down with a major case of terrarium fever, and I’m no exception. It’s so much fun creating these verdant little worlds, and I especially like that my cats can’t get to the plants inside. I’ve been having a lot of fun making woodland-themed moss terrariums for friends, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with CRAFT readers. You can purchase lidded glass containers at craft stores, but this project relies on reusing mason jars you may already have on hand. The rest of the materials needed can easily be found at home and garden stores. Read on to find out more!



• Glass mason jar with lid (I used an old spaghetti sauce jar)
• Potting soil
• Activated charcoal (sometimes called terrarium charcoal)
• Small stones, pebbles, or gravel
• Sheet moss (sometimes called preserved sheet moss)
• Decorations (such as small toys, larger rocks, etc.)
• Chopsticks or bamboo skewers
• Spray paint (if desired)
First prep your jar by washing and drying it. If you’re reusing a mason jar, you may want to spray paint the lid to cover any logos, etc. I painted mine using Krylon spray paint in “Blue Ocean Breeze.” The coverage is great and the drying time is only 10 minutes. I also had to remove some sticker residue from the glass. I soaked the jar in warm, soapy water, which removed most of the label. Then I took the residue off with a bit of vegetable oil on a cleaning cloth.
Start by adding a 1" layer of pebbles to the bottom of the jar, followed by a thin layer of charcoal. The charcoal will help filter the water in your terrarium and will absorb odors — otherwise your terrarium may start to stink. (You can also choose to mix some charcoal into your soil at a 1:4 ratio, but I prefer the layered look.) After the pebbles and charcoal, you’ll add a 3"–4" layer of potting soil.
Now you’ll start adding in the greenery. Simply tear pieces of moss off the sheet and place them in a single layer inside the jar. It can be hard to fit your hand inside the jar to adjust things, so use chopsticks or a bamboo skewer to move the plants around.
If you want to create some interest with height, you could mound up the soil in one area to create a mini-mountain to cover in moss. All-moss terrariums look great, but you can also experiment with adding plants like small ferns and the like. I found some nice plants growing between the sidewalk cracks while walking my dog one morning, so I ripped a few out and brought them home to add to my jar. They’ve been absolutely thriving in their new mason jar ecosystem.
Decorate as you wish with a variety of rocks, shells, plastic toys, or whatever you like! I used some fun plastic deer and mushroom cupcake toppers from Bake It Pretty.
Now water your terrarium lightly (until you can see some moisture down in the pebble layer), and screw on the lid. You will need to water your terrarium every few weeks. Droplets of moisture are fine — you want to see these — but if it starts looking especially foggy in there, take the lid off for a few hours to let moisture escape. Otherwise, an occasional water and/or spritz with a spray bottle should be fine.
If you want to get super crazy, use a teeny jam jar to make a mini-terrarium! Here’s one I made using a Bonne Maman orange marmalade jar. I love these because the glass has a beautiful shape and they have a fun red and white gingham lid. Follow the same directions as above, just use less of all the supplies.

31 thoughts on “CRAFT Project: Mason Jar Terrarium

  1. I love these! They seem like good bets for places with bad air quality too — not that I know anything about that after living in NYC for years.
    Bonne Maman jars also work really well for infusing micro batches of liquor. Like if you can’t decide you’re ready to commit to a whole fifth of kumquat clove vodka or ancho chile tequila, that’s the way to go.

  2. These look so cute! I’ll have to try them out, especially since I don’t have a lot of space for big houseplants.
    Does the preserved sheet moss actually come to life and grow? Or is it just decorative?

  3. Swellanor, the moss actually does come back to life once you start watering & caring for it. One of my other terrariums has already started sprouting new little mossy offshoots!

  4. Thanks Kate! You should definitely give these a try. & that’s an awesome tip about the liquor. The jars are just so dang cute I can never send them to the recycling bin anyway, so it’s good to know I now have another way to use ’em in addition to terrarium-making and paperclip-holding.

  5. Hey Jenny! I know I am commenting on a pretty old article, but I was thinking about making some terrariums this summer while I am off from school so I can bring them back in the fall to decorate my room. I just wanted to know if you had to use store bought moss or if you could use moss from outside? I’m from New Hampshire and there’s plenty of fresh plants and moss in my woods, but I wanted to make sure that using it wouldn’t contaminate my terrariums.
    Thanks for your excellent tutorial! I’m excited to get started. :)

  6. I’m almost ready to get working on my terrariums, but I still need to get the activated charcoal. Where’d you get yours? I’ve tried a few places, and I have heard you can get it at pet supply stores in the fish/aquarium aisle, though it doesn’t look the same as what I saw on here.
    Thank you for all your help! I really can’t wait to get started, these are going to look great in my dorm room. :)

  7. I just saw this from a customer of mine….I just want to for warn those who may try to do this…preserved moss is just that! Preserved if you try to mix live moss with preserved moss or try to water the preserved moss as shown here…you will get nothing but dead moldy jars of yuck!
    I just wanted to let everyone know this before you try this or do try and then never want to try again because of a bad try the first time.
    Hope this helps some of you from getting a bad taste in your mouth about the wonderful world of moss.
    Teresa Kessler
    Teresa’s Plants & More Store

  8. Hi, I just read ur terrarium idea and it sounds great :) I can’t wait to get started on these as soon as I get all of the ingredients :) hope it works out and thanks for the idea <3

  9. Hi, I just read ur terrarium idea and it sounds great :) I can’t wait to get started on these as soon as I get all of the ingredients :) hope it works out and thanks for the idea <3

  10. Hi, I just read ur terrarium idea and it sounds great :) I can’t wait to get started on these as soon as I get all of the ingredients :) hope it works out and thanks for the idea <3

  11. I saw these in a store and they were expensive …so I thought I’m sure I can make my own…so thanks for the tips… to crafting world

  12. I have leftover preserved Super Moss and I was wondering if I could use it in my car outside I have them off guard and there’s a couple bare places will it grow

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Jenny Ryan

Jenny Ryan is an artist, crafter, and maker of things. She lives in Los Angeles with a pack of various animals (including her husband) and writes about her adventures in creating at Exit Through the Thrift Shop.

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