The Easiest Glass Terrarium You’ll Ever Make

We’ve easily seen over a dozen terrarium tutorials everywhere from Real Simple to Better Homes & Gardens. So naturally, we wanted to get in on the glass act. But a true terrarium calls for a bunch of steps and a handful of materials, so we threw together a cheapo quickie terrarium that has been going strong for over a month now. The reason we waited a while before sharing our step-by-step process is of course that we wanted to make sure that our plant wouldn’t end up dead! But we’re happy to report that our small feathery fern is alive and kicking- looking very content in his little glass house in the guest bedroom.


While the majority of the terrariums that we’ve encountered call for moss, soil and pebbles to create a nice little ecosystem (some even require distilled water and activated charcoal), we rigged up a pretty indoor greenhouse for one lucky little fern with just two things: a large dinner plate and an $11 glass hurricane from Ikea.


We simply took a small potted “Fluffy Ruffle Fern” from Home Depot (it’s good to select a plant that likes a moist environment like a fern, an orchid, or even a venus flytrap) and placed it on the dinner plate and flipped the hurricane upside down and dropped it over the plant to create an airtight little enclave for our fern to live. Oh and you’ll want to select a plant that’s small enough to easily fit under your glass top (you don’t want their leaves pressed against the glass, they should have a bit of air around them so they’re not too cramped).

Thanks to the moist, misty environment that is created due to the glass cover, we rarely have to water the guy, although we do remove the glass top from time to time if it’s getting a bit too foggy or damp, just to give him a break. Since ferns (and many of the other plants that like terrariums) can also live without a terrarium, it doesn’t hurt to lift the top for a minute or so each week, since moist and misty is nice but we wouldn’t want him to get straight-up soggy.

Here he is from above. That’s one happy little fern.


We’ve also seen other glass vessels used to create a little plant-house (we especially love them in an apothecary jar or even in one of these oversized jugs where we keep our cereal). Do any of you have a terrarium at home? Anyone else itching to make one? Whether you’re going the full monty (activated charcoal and all!) or just happy to use a dinner plate and a hurricane, we’d love to know what terrarium-type tickles your fancy.

Want more terrarium info? Check out this great how-to video from eHow.


  1. Nicole Greene says

    Sherry – This is a question NOT related to this post, but we just got a great piece of furniture (a hoosier chest) and I want to clean it, strip it, and then repaint it. Can you please direct me as to where I could find detailed directions on how to do that?


  2. Alli says

    I don’t know why I had never thought of that before! We have two cats who naturally are curious about everything. We’ve lost one plant to them and I have to keep another little gerbera daisy plant I got from a friend in my office so they won’t eat it (they’ve gotten in a couple times when I forgot to close the door and removed a few leaves already).
    A terrarium is a great alternative, so thanks for the idea!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Nicole,

      If you check the comments on our rain barrel post lots of people chimed in with great ideas! Someone mentioned that they’ve seen them on Craigslist and of course calling your local extension office to see if they sell or provide them for free is always a smart idea! There’s also google (maybe try searching “rain barrel” and the name of your city) and a ton of other ideas there so just read through the comments to see what you come up with! Also don’t be afraid to use the “search” feature on the top right of our site to find everything from furniture painting articles to headboard upholstery ideas!


  3. says

    One of my cats, Emma, in a herbivore, and she doesn’t always care if the plant’s alive or not. I have a plant on top of my kitchen cabinets, on top of my china cabinet, on top of an armoire… You get the idea. I think I’ll give the terrarium a try so that I can have at least one plant at a level that doesn’t cause a crick in the neck or require death-defying feats in order to water it. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Penny says

    I’m a local Richmond gal and discovered your blog a few weeks ago. I really love it and have found myself visiting it two or three times a week for the fabulous decorating and styling info. Especially love the tips for shopping in local places.

    I love this idea. So simple, and so very beautiful.

  5. Christa says

    I, too, have seen these terrarium articles everywhere. So I ran out to Homegoods and bought a small apothecary jar – you know, the cute, footed ones with curvy lines and a lid – and am now trying to find the right plant to fit inside. I can’t wait!

    One question – do you find that the little guy needs to be near a window, or do you simply keep him in a light-filled room? Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Christa,

      A light filled room should do the trick. Our little guy’s near a window but not in direct sunlight and he seems pleased as punch. Hope it helps!


  6. says

    I love the concept here. It adds great color and life to a room for very little money. I think you could even jazz it up a bit by using a decorative large pillar candle plate (such as the silver hammered version from Target or a beautiful bamboo cutting board instead of the white plate. With the bamboo cutting board you can even make it round with the help of your jigsaw.

  7. Sean R says

    We had a Venus Flytrap from Home Depot that was doing great until I took it out of its little plastic box it came in to move it to a bigger pot where it quickly died. This seems like a great solution since I thought the lack of moisture was a partial cause. But how would he get his flies?:D

  8. Heather says

    I just bought a little violet for a terrarium on my dresser, but I’m having trouble finding a decorative pot that’s small enough. Any advice?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Heather,

      We definitely encourage you to think outside the pot! There are lots of small ceramic containers at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond that are meant as serving dishes, ramekins, and cups that make excellent little planters. Hope it helps! Happy hunting…


  9. Katie says

    Hi Sherry & John! Quick question related to the terrarium…I recently made a terrarium like the one you explained here and I have a couple questions. Do you get a lot of fruit flies inside yours? And by “a lot” I mean enough that I could clean it out everyday (but alas, I don’t). I’ve tried two different vases but the little buggers got in both. Also, how tall is your vase covering the plant? I feel like mine is growing so much that the vase won’t be big enough for much longer. Do you trim your fern down periodically? Thanks for any insight you have and hope you’re feeling well Sherry! 8 days! Exciting!

    • says

      Hey Katie,

      We’re wondering if your pants are infested with bugs when you’re putting them under the glass. We have never had an issue with fruit flies when it comes to ours, and we actually wonder how they can be getting under your terrarium anyway. Which is why we think they might be in the plants to start with. And for the plant’s health you’ll want it to not touch the glass at all (it should be comfortably confined inside without brushing up against the glass) so you’ll want to get something bigger if your plants grows quickly. Our small fern hasn’t grown much in the entire time that we’ve had it so the 12″ vase has been great for us. Hope it helps!


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