Landscaper Natalia Richardson shows you how to create your own trendy terrarium


Plants: An African violet in a small attractive pot, polka dot plants (Hypoestes phyllostachya), a rabbit foot fern (Davallia bullata), club moss (Selaginella martensii) and sphagnum moss.

Other materials: A base, a bell jar (I used one that was 35cm high and 20cm wide), bonsai mix, a bonsai trowel, scissors, a bonsai rake and a kebab stick.

Tip: You can use the drip tray of a large container as a base. Take your bell jar with you when shopping for a base to ensure you buy one that’s the right size; the base must be slightly bigger than the bell jar so the plants fit snugly inside.


Step 1:African violet

Position the African violet at the back of the base, leaving it in its pot for added height and interest. (Make sure it’ll fit under the bell jar.) Pour some of the bonsai mix into the base and mound it up around the bottom of the African violet’s pot. Allow enough space around the perimeter of the base for the bell jar.

Step 2:Arrange plants

Arrange the rest of your plants on the base, moving them around until you’re happy with the overall composition.

Step 3:

Once you’ve got a planting plan in mind, carefully remove the polka dot plants from their pots using your hands or a small bonsai trowel and plant them in the mounded soil, firming it down gently around them.

Step 4:

Next add the club moss, which will help to bind the soil and hold the arrangement together.

Step 5:

Snip off pieces of rabbit foot fern; this is an easy plant to divide and pieces simply planted in the soil will happily root themselves.

Step 6:Rabbit foot fern

Plant a few pieces of the rabbit foot fern at the back of the small pot housing your African violet to add more height to the arrangement.

Step 7:

Add more soil to the base where necessary and then cover the exposed soil with sphagnum moss, which as it grows, will act as mulch.

Step 8:Sphagnum moss

Water just enough to dampen the entire base, but don’t allow it to overflow. Note that there are no drainage holes in the base – once the bell jar is placed over the base, condensation will begin to take place and the terrarium will water itself.

Step 9:Bell jar

Cover the arrangement with the bell jar, carefully tucking in any straying plant pieces using a kebab stick and raking the soil inwards so it remains inside the bell jar.


  • Maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum)
  • Rough maidenhair fern (A. hispidulum)
  • Peace-in-the-home (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Moss fern (Selaginella pallescens)
  • Snakeskin plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii)


Position your terrarium indoors where it will receive medium light, but no direct sun. It will water itself by condensation, but keep an eye on it, and if it looks dry, add water using a watering can – you needn’t lift the bell jar; simply pour water in the side and it will spread to the rest of the base. Trim any plants that begin to outgrow the terrarium and replace them if necessary.

To see how to create a mini-terrarium using used glass containers click here