Closed Terrarium Project

Our first closed terrarium (made out of a gallon juice container) stayed sealed for two years before the plant died.

This year we’re trying a glass container with a better seal.

Educational value can be found in a mini demonstration of the water cycle, discussion of plant respiration, ongoing observation, discussion and problem solving. Children of all ages can help out with this great and simple family project.


  • small rocks for drainage (3.99 USD)
  • sphagnum moss (2.99 USD for a very large bag)
  • activated charcoal (from pet store, I’ve had it so long, I can’t recall the price)
  • potting soil (varies, I used left over from our planters)
  • small tropical house plant with low to medium water needs, generously pre-watered (important, no other watering happens- 5.99 USD)
  • Glass Jar (got this one at michaels, 9.99 USD)

We started by  putting drainage rocks in the bottom of our jar.


then a layer of sphagnum moss to separate the layers.


then came a layer of activated charcoal. (keeps mold away)


and finally the soil and plant.


We closed it up and wrote the date it was sealed on a piece of tape on the lid.

If all goes well, it should last awhile, filling the jar and dying back a few times. Our previous one was kept in the kitchen, but this time we’re placing it in the living room.

There is already a good bit of condensation on the glass, before long it will trickle down to the soil.


I plan to do a one, three, six, and annual update if it goes as expected. If it doesn’t we can hypothesize about what went wrong and adjust for next time.


Have you ever kept a closed terrarium? How did it go?


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3 thoughts on “Closed Terrarium Project

  1. wandermood says:

    Hi, what a great idea! I might actually try and do this with my sons. I can already see them walking past the jar/box and staring in occasionally. Thanks for the post!

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