Building a Jar Terrarium

My Thriving Moss Jar

The Healthy Moss in My Jar

It is my firm conviction that if you want a garden, you should make the effort to cultivate one. However, when I inquire as to why individuals do not possess one, I am met with a plethora of different explanations from them. The most common of these tend to be a lack of space, very little available sunlight, or that they just can't seem to keep anything green alive in spite of their best efforts.

In spite of the fact that these are all good reasons for most configurations, they fall apart when compared to the moss garden in a jar. Moss terrariums are accessible to anyone because they demand very little in the way of space, sunlight, or even a tender touch from the gardener. The best part is that they are almost completely self-sufficient and can be built from materials that are easily accessible in and around the home. Keep reading if you want to learn how to make a terrarium in a jar, which will allow you to finally have the garden you've always dreamed of having.

Why You Should Have a Tiny Terrarium

Moss terrariums are the ideal option for those who have limited space in their living quarters and want to bring some greenery inside. A calming touch provided by a miniature terrarium is an excellent addition to any living space, whether it be an apartment, a dorm room, or an extra bedroom. However, this is not the end of the story. Because these miniature gardens only need a small amount of sunlight to thrive, they can be set up virtually anywhere. This makes them perfect for use as captivating ornaments for dining room tables or as instructive playthings in the bedroom of a young child. Everyone is sure to have a good time with a moss terrarium that they made themselves, whether it's just you or the whole family.

Supplies Needed

When it comes to putting together your desktop terrarium, there are a few essential supplies that you will need to have on hand. Fortunately, all of the necessary supplies can be acquired for a low cost or even for no cost at all. The following items are required in order for you to get started:

  • Jar made of glass with lid: You can use any kind of glass jar you have that also has a lid. It is not the size that is important, but rather the opening on the top. A large opening may be desirable if you plan to move the garden around frequently or clean the inside of the glass, both of which require you to do so. Jars with narrow openings will be much more challenging to arrange, but using them is not out of the question. Plastic containers can also be used, but they do not offer the same degree of visibility as glass ones do.
  • Pebbles: These rocks, which are placed at the bottom of the terrarium, act as a drainage area for any excess moisture that may accumulate there.
  • Dried sphagnum or peat moss is used to create a barrier between the small pebbles and the drainage reservoir. This barrier prevents the potting soil from sliding down into the drainage reservoir. This layer also performs the function of a small wick, transferring any excess moisture present in the pebbles to the soil below. Even if you don't have any dried moss lying around your house, dried moss can be purchased at almost any pet store for a very reasonable price.
  • The topmost layer, also known as the potting soil, is the one on which the moss will actually start to grow. It is not necessary for the potting soil to be rich in nutrients.
  • Decorations: While they are not required, rocks, small branches, and various other decorative pieces can add that unique touch that you're looking for.
Moss terrariums in jars. The one on the left was made from an old pickle jar, while the one on the right was constructed from an apple cider glass jug.

Moss terrariums in jars The one on the left was constructed using an old pickle jar, and the one on the right was made using a glass jug that had been used to hold apple cider.

Moss for Terrariums

Even though you have the option of purchasing a variety of mosses for your terrarium, doing so is not really required. Since moss can be found in large quantities all over the world and can survive in a wide variety of environments, there is a good possibility that you are currently in the vicinity of some. It should not be difficult to locate and harvest moss in environments with a high relative humidity. It's just a matter of looking a little bit more closely for those of us who live in dry climates like I do. The following is a guide that will help you locate wild moss around your house with ease and harvest it in a responsible manner:

Living moss terrarium. While this jar is very unique, the small opening makes moving moss and decorations almost impossible!

Terrarium made of living moss This jar is one of a kind; however, due to the narrow opening, it is nearly impossible to rearrange the moss and other decorations inside.

Find the Moss, and Collect It in a Responsible Manner

  • Where to find moss: This will be a no-brainer for people who live in humid climates, as you'll easily be able to find moss just about everywhere. You'll be able to find moss just about everywhere. In dry environments, you should seek out the shade and locations with a higher probability of having liquid water available. I was able to discover some moss growing in the parking lot of my apartment complex. This particular cluster was located in a fissure in the asphalt, and it was directly beneath the canopy of a tree that was located nearby.
  • Harvest the moss in a responsible manner: Once you have located an appropriate clump of moss, harvesting is a piece of cake. You can gently lift up the moss with a butter knife or even your fingers, taking a good portion of the medium it is growing on with you. After that, you can store the moss and growing medium in a bag that has been sealed with a Ziploc until you are ready to plant it in your terrarium. When you are harvesting, you should only take very small pieces from the donor clump. These minuscule pieces will disperse rapidly throughout your terrarium, thereby ensuring that the original clump will recover in its entirety.
How to make a terrarium in a jar. Compared to the apple cider jug, this pickle jar has a much larger opening and is a lot easier to work in.

Instructions for creating a terrarium in a jar This pickle jar has a much larger opening than the apple cider jug, and it is a lot easier to work in than the apple cider jug as well.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Caring for Your Own Terrarium in a Jar

After you have gathered all of your supplies, including the moss, you are ready to set up your terrarium and care for it. This is the procedure to follow:

  1. Fill the bottle to the very bottom with pebbles of various sizes. This layer should be anywhere from one to two inches deep in order to ensure adequate drainage.
  2. On top of the pebbles, sprinkle some sphagnum moss or peat moss that has been dried. The only requirement for the thickness of this layer is that it must be sufficient to cover the rocks entirely.
  3. Place a layer of moist potting soil on top of the moss that has been left to dry. Because mosses do not have traditional roots, the layer of soil does not need to be very thick in order for them to be successful. There is no need for more than a half an inch of soil.
  4. Place the moss clumps and other decorations in the desired configurations.
  5. Mist the terrarium using a spray bottle in such a way that there is just enough excess water to form a thin layer in the pebble reservoir. To finish, screw the lid on the jar until it just barely fits.
  6. Place the finished terrarium in an area that is exposed to sunlight for one to two hours per day, or place it under artificial lighting.
  7. Only when there is no sign of condensation forming on the inside of the terrarium should you begin watering your plants. Under typical circumstances, a fine misting should be performed no more frequently than once every one to two months.

Don't Just Settle for Moss

In this tutorial on how to create a terrarium in a jar, I demonstrated the process by using moss as an example; however, there are many other materials from which you can choose. Please refer to the following list of plants in order to gain a better understanding of the scope of what can be cultivated in a jar:

  • Ferns
  • Cactus
  • Succulents
  • Begonias
  • Orchids
  • Aquamarine
  • Grasses
  • Venus Fly Traps (or VFTs)

Use your imagination!

To put it another way, there are no longer any valid reasons why you shouldn't have your very own garden. The care required for moss terrariums is by far the least of any other type of garden, and they provide a lot of room for creative expression. Discover the great outdoors, track down some moss, and then design the garden of your dreams using landscape design. It really is that simple.

We appreciate you taking the time to read through this tutorial on how to make a terrarium in a jar. Please don't hesitate to post any questions or thoughts you might have down below.


The information presented here is true and accurate to the best of the author's knowledge, but it is not intended to serve as a replacement for the formal and individualized advice that can be obtained from a trained professional.

On January 25, 2020, Emily will say:

How often do you remove the cover in order to allow air to enter? Or do you even attempt to do that? A miniature moss terrarium will be constructed by me out of a recycled glass Starbucks bottle.

mason on the 30th of October, 2018:


On the 11th of September, 2018, Brianna said:

This offered a very practical approach to beginning the process of putting all of the fish tank decorations that I had lying around to use. A cute little castle perched on some moss is very appealing to look at.

elisabetta palau on September 07, 2018:


On Tuesday, February 11, 2018, Alyssa said:

Which kinds of plants should I use in my jar, which has a lid that fits very securely?

The following was written by Raymond Philippe, who is from the Netherlands, on March 21, 2014:

Nice Have you ever considered owning a Terrarium? You did an excellent job in demonstrating that I was incorrect, as were probably a lot of other people as well. Voted up

Dianna Mendez on March 20, 2014:

I remember making one of these many years ago, and after reading your advice, I believe I understand why it was unsuccessful in its attempt to thrive. We overwatered Your advice makes perfect sense: drinking water in the absence of condensation I think these terrariums would look great in the window of a kitchen; they would really bring some life to the room.

-- kmvaalu, writing from the Niagara Region, Canada, on March 19, 2014:

What a fantastic suggestion! This would be a great activity for the kids and I to do together. I am appreciative of the suggestion. It appears as though I ought to give this a shot because the moss is absolutely stunning, and during the warmer months, I almost always have a few clumps of it growing.

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