How to Make Moss Terrariums

Written by janice farnsworth
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How to Make Moss Terrariums
Forest moss grows on roots at the foot of trees. (ULTRA.F/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A terrarium can bring green into your home year round. Since it is a closed environment and creates its own ecosystem, a terrarium is perfect for someone who often travels or doesn't have time to attend to plants daily. Desert terrariums have more sandy soil and are best for plants such as cacti; whereas, forest terrariums contain ferns, mosses and plants that require more moisture for support. Create a terrarium using live forest moss and small decorations with little effort and enjoy it regardless of the weather outside.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Gravel or small rocks
  • Glass container with a top
  • Activated charcoal
  • Damp sphagnum moss
  • Terrarium soil
  • Live forest moss
  • Plate or cutting board
  • Spoon
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Paper towel
  • Small decorations

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  1. 1

    Place enough gravel or rock to cover the bottom of your container with a 1- to 3-inch layer (the deeper the container, the thicker the layer should be); the rock provides the drainage for your terrarium and prevents the soil from staying too wet and causing root rot.

  2. 2

    Spread a 1/2-inch layer of activated charcoal over the drainage layer; this will control the odour in the container.

  3. 3

    Put a 1/2-inch layer of well drained, damp sphagnum moss over the layer of charcoal; the moss acts like a filter to keep the soil from falling down into the drainage area.

  4. 4

    Pile a thick layer of terrarium soil, enough to fill your terrarium about 1/3 of the way; terrarium soil is actually potting soil with a small amount of builder's sand mixed in. It can be purchased pre-mixed or you can mix your own.

  5. 5

    Lay the forest moss on a plate or a hard flat surface. Place the lid of the container over the moss to measure where to cut the moss so it will fit into the container. Cut the edges of the moss to fit within the container using the edge of the spoon; it should be big enough to tuck tightly into the edges of the container.

  6. 6

    Lay the cut, forest moss on top of the soil layer. Tap the moss down evenly into the soil using the back of the spoon; soil will encourage the moss roots to continue to grow.

  7. 7

    Press the edges of the moss down into the edges of the container using the spoon edge. Spritz the inside of the container three times with the spray bottle.

  8. 8

    Wipe the container inside with a paper towel to remove any dirt or charcoal that stuck to the glass. Place the small decorations on the bed of moss to give the terrarium an extra element of character.

Tips and warnings

  • Forest moss can be purchased but is also easy to find in wooded areas. You can dig your own by using a spoon to go under the moss; loosen it in a blanket-like shape. Keep the forest moss cool and damp with a spritz of water if you have it longer than one day.
  • The terrarium will only need spritzing twice a week to begin with. Once the ecosystem begins to take off, you will only have to spritz once a week or less.
  • Terrariums can even house reptiles or insects; consider making a miniature living world, wildlife and all.
  • To avoid the plant life burning up, the terrarium should never be placed in full sun.
  • Always leave the lid on to allow humidity to remain inside.
  • If the terrarium gets too wet inside (condensation is all over the glass), take the top off to allow it to dry out then replace it as soon as the condensation has dried up.

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