How To Make A Fairy Garden Terrarium

Ilona Erwin

If you live in a cold climate, you know that for at least half the year (from October through May) frost threatens the garden. And if you have grown to love your outdoor fairy garden -or simply have a hankering to create a miniature garden inside your home, a terrarium garden is a wonderful winter project. The addition of fairy garden accessories turns it into something truly charming.

Your terrarium can be as small as a simple glass container holding one rock with a fairy figurine perched on top, a few sprigs of a grassy plant and some moss. O it may be grand: quite large and full of fascinating fairy folk in a repurposed aquarium. It is all up to you and your own creative imagination.


Let’s start with some terrarium garden basics.

Basics for Glass Gardens

What Is A Terrarium? Click

A terrarium is an enclosed miniature world, a plant environment within a glass container. From small jars to large, the important thing to remember is to balance the mini-environment with just the right amount of moisture to circulate within the glass. Terrariums can be either open or closed.


Terrarium How-To

  • Find a glass container (see the next section for what makes a good container)
  • Layer the bottom of the container with gravel (I like aquarium gravelPetco 20 lbs. gravel in a natural color)
  • Mix together your soil, Martha Stewart has a formula for using horticultural charcoal and orchid bark in her Fairyland Terrarium.
  • Make a “terrain” with small rocks and different levels. Plant the mosses, then add the small plants.
  • Finally, insert the fairy furniture, accessories and figurines

Find figurines, and fairy garden accessories online.

Fairy Inspiration

Checklist for Terrarium Garden Tools

  • Bamboo skewers
  • Sheets of white paper (use for funnel)
  • Tamper
  • Long tweezers
  • Houseplant trowel or a spoon
  • Mister or long spout watering can

What Makes A Good Container?
Apothecary jars are ideal. Clear candy jars, large clear vases, round aquariums, and any other glass jar are other possibilities. If the container has a lid, it holds the moisture better and the terrarium needs less watering.

If the opening is large enough for your hand, maintenance is easier (planting and pruning plants).

Which Plants For Terrariums?

Fine leaved, small stature plants are best. This keeps the terrarium in check, and gives a “fairy world” feeling. A selection of mosses creates the base for a scattering of small plants such as miniature ferns, orchids, or tropical houseplants.

terrarium plants

Suggested Plants

Click here for a list of plants

  • Pilea involucrata ‘Moon Valley’ 12″x12″
  • Cryptanthus bivittatus 6″x6″
  • Peperomia caperata ‘Variegata’ 6″
  • Pilea glauca ‘Aquamarine’ 12″
  • Tillandsia stricta 8″
  • Miniature African violets and gesneriads

  • Reindeer moss (cladonia rangiferina)
  • Club moss (selaginella krausiana)
  • Cushion moss (leucobryum)
  • Baby’s Tears
  • Selaginella kraussiana
  • Acorus gramineus ‘Minimus Aureus’

More Fairy-Sized Plant Suggestions


terrarium idea

Source: Matt Chung

Fairy Garden Terrarium Tips

  • Dampen, don’t wet, the soil
  • 1/2 inch layer of horticultural charcoal on top
    of gravel keeps soil “sweet”.
  • Make a paper funnel to pour soil into glass containers and jars.
  • Low light and high humidity dwarf plants are best
  • Rig up your own tamper: attach bamboo skewer to a wine cork.
  • Fan shaped paintbrush with long handle to brush errant soil from leaves or glass wall.
  • Overwatering is the worst mistake, be sparing with the water.
  • Use a layer of spaghnum moss above the gravel to keep soil from filtering down. It will hold the moisture, too.

Turn The Terrarium Into A Fairyland

If you have already made a terrarium, the miniature plantings necessary for the fairy garden terrarium are in place. Really, all that is needed, now, are the accessories of furnishings and perhaps tiny fairy statues to accent the garden.

Source: MOMA via Donni

If you love the free play of imagination, the stage is set for simply creating or purchasing the fairy sized chairs or table, perhaps even a little ladder to better able climb in and out of the glass enclosure.

  • A very long tweezer tool comes in handy when placing the bits of fairy paraphernalia inside the planted jar.
  • Planning the placement of the fairy furniture beforehand will minimize the disturbance of the plants.

More Ideas For Fairy Garden Terrariums!

Terrarium Tools

SE 3pc Tweezers Set, Serrated Tips, 12″, 10″, and 8″terrarium tweezers
Fluval Flora Stainless Steel Planting Tongs – 10.63-inchesplanting tongs
Fluval Flora Stainless Steel Aquatic Plant Scissors – 9.80-inchesplant scissors
Steven Raichlen Bamboo Grilling Kabob Skewers 12-inch Long, Set of 25bamboo skewers

Books For Terrarium Enthusiasts

Books that you can use for your fairy garden terrariums.
Or to become a budding terrarium enthusiast! If you have a houseplant-loving or gardening friend, one of these books with a terrarium kit could be the best gift ever.

Books To Inspire You

Terrarium bookAuthor Tovah Martin

Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds


Hoffman Charcoal Soil Conditioner

Terrarium/Fairy Garden Kit – Create Your Own Living Terrarium

Terrarium Moss Kit

Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Heritage Hill Jar with Glass Lid

Complete Kits


Fairy Garden Books

For the whole topic of making these miniature environments inside or out, there are so many lovely resources and books. Start with these to get your creative juices stirring.

Fairy Gardens GuideFairy House Handbook

Links On The Web

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.