How to Make a Self Sustaining Terrarium

How to make a self sustaining terrarium? You want to create a beautiful addition to your home that requires little maintenance. A self-sustaining terrarium is a perfect solution. It’s a miniature ecosystem that can thrive for years with minimal care. Plus, it’s an excellent way to teach children about the balance of nature.

Understanding the concept of a terrarium is key to creating a successful self-sustaining terrarium. It’s a sealed environment that mimics the natural water cycle. The water evaporates, condenses on the glass, and falls back onto the plants, creating a closed-loop system. Choosing the right container is also important. It should be clear, airtight, and large enough to accommodate the plants you want to include.

Selecting the ideal plants and animals for your self-sustaining terrarium is crucial. You want to choose plants that are hardy, disease-resistant, and won’t outgrow the container. Creating a balanced ecosystem is also essential. You need to provide enough plant biomass to sustain efficient life cycles and include the right amount of soil, rocks, and charcoal for drainage and filtration. Finally, maintaining your self-sustaining terrarium is easy. You only need to water it occasionally and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the concept of a terrarium is key to creating a successful self-sustaining terrarium.
  • Choosing the right container is important.
  • Selecting the ideal plants and animals for your self-sustaining terrarium and creating a balanced ecosystem are crucial.

Understanding the Concept of a Terrarium

So, you want to make a self sustaining terrarium? Well, before you get started, it’s important to understand what a terrarium is and how it works.

A terrarium is a miniature garden enclosed in a container, usually made of glass. It’s like a tiny ecosystem that can sustain itself with minimal care. The plants inside the terrarium release moisture, which then condenses on the glass and falls back onto the soil, creating a self-sustaining cycle.

Creating a self sustaining terrarium is all about balance. You need to choose the right plants, container, and soil, and make sure they all work together in harmony. It’s like putting together a puzzle, but with living pieces.

When you create a terrarium, you’re essentially creating a mini-world with its own unique environment. You need to consider factors like light, temperature, and humidity to make sure your plants thrive. It’s like being a scientist and an artist at the same time.

But don’t worry, creating a self-sustaining terrarium is not as complicated as it may seem. With a little bit of knowledge and some creativity, you can create a beautiful and thriving miniature garden that will bring joy to your home.

So, are you ready to create your own self-sustaining terrarium? Let’s get started!

tutorials how to make a self sustaining terrarium

Choosing the Right Container

When it comes to creating a self-sustaining terrarium, choosing the right container is key. You want a container that is non-reactive and transparent, so that your plants can get the light they need to thrive.

Glass and plastic are the most commonly used materials for terrarium containers, and for good reason. Not only are they non-reactive and transparent, but they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit any space.

When selecting your container, keep in mind the size of your plants and the overall ecosystem you want to create. A larger container will provide more space for your plants to grow, but may require more maintenance to keep the ecosystem balanced.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, consider a closed terrarium. These containers create a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires very little upkeep. However, you’ll need to choose plants that can thrive in a humid environment and avoid overwatering to prevent mold growth.

On the other hand, if you want more control over your terrarium, an open container may be the way to go. With an open container, you can adjust the amount of water and light your plants receive, and can easily remove any dead or dying plants.

No matter what type of container you choose, make sure it has proper drainage to prevent water from pooling at the bottom. This can lead to root rot and other issues that can harm your plants and disrupt the ecosystem.

In summary, when choosing a container for your self-sustaining terrarium, consider the size, material, and drainage. A well-chosen container will help create a thriving ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance and provides a beautiful addition to any space.

Selecting the Ideal Plants and Animals

Now that you have decided to make a self sustaining ecosystem, it’s time to choose the right plants and animals. This is the most crucial step in creating a thriving ecosystem. You need to select plants and animals that can coexist and survive in the same environment.

When selecting plants, choose those that are hardy and pest-resistant. The plants should be able to grow well but not too much so that they don’t outgrow the terrarium. You can choose different types of plants with varying heights, textures, and colors to create a visually appealing terrarium. Some excellent options for terrarium plants include ferns, mosses, succulents, and air plants.

If you plan to include animals in your terrarium, select those that are small and can live in a confined space. Insects like ants, beetles, and centipedes are good options. You can also add small reptiles like geckos or amphibians like frogs. Remember to research the specific needs of each animal and ensure that they can coexist with the plants in the terrarium.

It’s essential to strike a balance between the number of plants and animals in the terrarium. Too many animals can eat all the plants, while too many plants can outcompete each other for resources. Therefore, ensure that you have enough plants to provide sufficient biomass to promote healthy life cycles for the animals.

In conclusion, selecting the ideal plants and animals is crucial to creating a self-sustaining terrarium. Choose hardy and pest-resistant plants and small animals that can coexist and thrive in the same environment. Remember to strike a balance between the number of plants and animals to create a healthy and thriving ecosystem.

how to make a self sustaining terrarium

Creating a Balanced Ecosystem

So, you want to create a self-sustaining terrarium? Well, the first step is to create a balanced ecosystem. This means finding the right combination of plants, soil, and other elements that will work together to create a healthy environment for your terrarium.

To start, choose plants that are suited to the environment you want to create. This means selecting plants that can thrive in the conditions of your terrarium, such as the amount of light and moisture. You can also choose plants that are pest and disease resistant, which will help ensure the long-term health of your ecosystem.

Next, consider the soil. The right soil can help your plants grow and thrive, while also providing essential nutrients for other elements in your ecosystem. Make sure to choose a soil that is well-draining and rich in nutrients.

You’ll also want to think about other elements in your ecosystem, such as rocks, sand, and other materials. These can help create a natural environment for your plants and other organisms to thrive in.

Finally, remember that creating a balanced ecosystem is an ongoing process. You’ll need to monitor your terrarium regularly to make sure that everything is working together as it should. This means checking the moisture levels, making sure that your plants are growing properly, and keeping an eye out for any signs of pests or disease.

Creating a terrarium ecosystem can be a fun and rewarding project, but it does require some work. By creating a balanced ecosystem and monitoring it regularly, you can help ensure that your terrarium thrives for years to come.

Maintaining Your Self-Sustaining Terrarium

Congratulations! You have successfully created a self-sustaining terrarium. But your job is not over yet. To ensure that your terrarium continues to thrive, you need to take care of it. Here are some tips on maintaining your self-sustaining terrarium:


Watering is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your terrarium. You need to make sure that the soil is moist but not overly wet. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can kill your plants. On the other hand, if you don’t water your terrarium enough, the plants will wilt and die.

To water your terrarium, use a spray bottle or a watering can with a narrow spout. Water the soil around the plants, being careful not to get water on the leaves. You should water your terrarium once a week or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.


Plants in your terrarium will grow and spread over time. To keep your terrarium looking neat and tidy, you need to prune your plants. Use a pair of scissors or pruning shears to trim back any overgrown or dead leaves. You should also remove any plants that are taking up too much space or crowding out other plants.


Just like any other living space, your terrarium can get dirty over time. Dust and debris can accumulate on the leaves and soil, which can block sunlight and hinder plant growth. To keep your terrarium clean, use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to gently wipe down the leaves. You should also remove any dead plant matter or debris from the soil.


Finally, you need to monitor your terrarium to make sure that everything is working properly. Keep an eye out for any signs of pests or disease, such as yellowing leaves or wilting plants. If you notice any problems, take action immediately to prevent them from spreading.

By following these tips, you can maintain your self-sustaining terrarium and enjoy it for years to come. Remember, a little bit of care goes a long way!

self sustaining terrarium

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a terrarium really be self-sustaining?

Yes, a terrarium can be self-sustaining if it is set up correctly. A self-sustaining terrarium is a miniature ecosystem that contains plants, soil, and other natural elements that work together to create a balanced environment. Once the terrarium has reached equilibrium, it can sustain itself for months or even years with minimal maintenance.

Are there any tips for creating a low-maintenance terrarium?

To create a low-maintenance terrarium, choose hardy plants that can thrive in a closed environment. Avoid plants that require a lot of sunlight or humidity, as these can be difficult to maintain. Use a high-quality potting mix that is specifically formulated for terrariums, and make sure to add activated charcoal to keep the soil healthy. Finally, choose a container with a lid to help maintain moisture levels and reduce the need for watering.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when making a self-sustaining terrarium?

One common mistake is overwatering the terrarium. Remember, a self-sustaining terrarium is a closed environment, so excess water can quickly lead to mold and other problems. Another mistake is choosing plants that are too large or too aggressive for the container. Finally, avoid using tap water, as it can contain chemicals that can harm the plants.

Can you add live insects to a self-sustaining terrarium?

Yes, you can add live insects to a self-sustaining terrarium, but it is important to choose the right ones. Avoid adding insects that are too large or too aggressive, as they can harm the plants and disrupt the ecosystem. Stick to small, harmless insects like springtails or isopods, which can help keep the soil healthy.

You can use isopods, the benefit of isopods is helping break down waste.

How long can a self-sustaining terrarium last without maintenance?

A self-sustaining terrarium can last for months or even years without maintenance, depending on the size of the container and the plants inside. However, it is important to keep an eye on the terrarium and make sure that the plants are healthy and the ecosystem is balanced.

What are some creative ways to decorate a self-sustaining terrarium?

There are many creative ways to decorate a self-sustaining terrarium. You can add decorative rocks or sand to the bottom of the container to create a layered effect. You can also add miniature figurines or other decorative elements to create a unique and personalized look. Finally, consider using different types of plants to create a variety of textures and colors within the terrarium.

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How do I make a self-sustaining terrarium?

Making a self-sustaining terrarium is easier than you think! Just follow these 7 simple steps:

What is a self-sustaining ecosystem?

A self-sustaining ecosystem is one that can support and maintain itself without external intervention or additions. In the case of a terrarium, it means creating a mini-ecosystem that can thrive on its own.

Do I need direct sunlight for my terrarium?

Yes, placing your terrarium in direct sunlight is essential for the growth and sustenance of the plants inside. However, make sure it’s not exposed to harsh, scorching sunlight as it can damage the delicate plants.

What are the essential components needed for a self-sustaining terrarium?

To make a self-sustaining terrarium, you will need a container (like a fish tank or a glass jar), organic matter for the base (such as soil or pebbles), plants that won’t outgrow the terrarium, charcoal to maintain the air quality, and water.

Can I include animals in my self-sustaining terrarium?

It is best to avoid including animals in a self-sustaining terrarium. The closed environment may not provide them with the necessary living conditions, and they can disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

What kind of plants should I choose for my terrarium?

Choose plants that have similar sunlight and watering requirements and won’t outgrow the terrarium. Air plants, mosses, ferns, and succulents are popular choices for terrariums.

How often do I need to water my self-sustaining terrarium?

A self-sustaining terrarium requires very little watering. The closed nature of the terrarium creates a mini water cycle, where moisture is continuously recycled. You only need to water it when you notice the soil becoming dry.

Can I use a closed terrarium for my self-sustaining ecosystem?

Yes, a closed terrarium is an excellent choice for creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. The closed environment promotes moisture retention and creates a self-contained ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance.