Best Soil For Terrarium 

Terrariums are best for those without enough space to grow plants. Terrariums are great because they are attractive, need little maintenance, and are space-saving. 

In a terrarium, an enclosed environment is available for specific plants. You can also say that it is a mini greenhouse. This is a perfect indoor garden because plants and soil produce water vapors and create a water cycle. 

There are two types of terrariums; closed terrariums and open terrariums. There is a removable lid in a closed terrarium, but open terrariums don’t have one. In a closed terrarium, the lid assists to maintain moisture.  

Best Soil For Terrarium 

In a closed terrarium, you should prefer tropical plants because they need high humidity.  your soil must be moist but not soggy.  For an open terrarium,  you can choose succulents, cacti, and air plants. 

For creating an appealing terrarium, you need a glass container.  There are different choices for you: you can use a mason jar, cookie jar, or pitcher. It’s up to you what type of container you want.  Whatever you choose it shows your creativity and aesthetic sense. 

After deciding what type of glass container you will use, the next step is the best quality of soil for your terrarium plants. If you don’t know what type of soil is best for your terrarium then you are reading the right article. 

What Is The Purpose Of Soil In A Terrarium?

Terrariums are fascinating displays that provide a humid environment for your plants. Soil plays an important role because it provides all the essential nutrients to plants. 

For a terrarium, we must use a soil mix that is suitable for growing plants in closed containers. Never use garden soil for this purpose because they don’t have drainage or moisture retention properties. 

Soil mix contains refined materials such as peat moss that helps in drainage. 

For terrariums, we use glass containers or jars that don’t have drainage holes. So the high-quality soil mix has drainage quality that dries out the soil. To improve drainage quality you can also add bark powder. 

This will help in escaping the water from the soil and your terrarium’s plants will prevent root rot. The best substitute for peat moss is jute and it decomposes slowly. 

You can also use man-made materials such as crumpled sandstone, volcanic glass, and much more. These materials help to soak water and improve drainage.

Purchase Best Glass Terrariums On Amazon

Difference Between Soil And Substrate

Difference Between Soil And Substrate

Soil and substrate are different from each other. Soil contains water, sand, organic matter, minerals, and air. Your parents get all the basic nutrients and organic matter from the soil. 

The presence of air in the soil keeps it healthy. On the other hand, organic matter holds water and other nutrients for terrarium plants. Nutrients easily move from the roots to the other parts of the plant with the help of water which is present in the soil. 

If we talk about substrates, they are materials that help to support plants in the terrarium. Natural and artificial materials are used for making them. There are different varieties of substrate available; they had to support the plant in the environment of the terrarium. 

The Perfect Recipe For Terrarium Soil Mix

The Perfect Recipe For Terrarium Soil Mix

Soil mix plays a very important role in the growth of terrarium plants.  A high-quality soil mix promotes aeration,  provides essential nutrients, and helps to improve water drainage. 

You should choose a soil mix according to the needs of your plants. You can make the perfect soil for your terrarium by adding different ingredients.  Here we are going to discuss with you all the essential ingredients that you can use in making soil mixes. 


Perlite is just like little pieces of styrofoam because they are snowy white granular particles. This material is very tough, light, and porous. The other important thing about this material is that it does not break down easily.  

The pH level of perlite is neutral.  When you add it to your soil mix then it will help to improve the aeration and drainage system in your terrarium.


It is also an important ingredient that helps to improve the quality of the soil. If you handle it roughly then it will easily become compact and lose its ability to retain water. 

This ingredient is very important for young seedlings as it allows them to emerge freely. It means if it is added to the soil mix then seed germination will become very easier. 


If you add potting sand to your soil mix then it will help to improve the drainage level of soil in the terrarium. Sand has a quality that does not retain water. 

As you know the container you are using for creating an attractive terrarium doesn’t have drainage holes. That’s why you should add such ingredients in the soil mix that help in drainage.


Your plants will be saved from pathogens and weeds if you add compost to the soil mix. Compost has all the essential organic materials that are crucial to your plants. 


Sphagnum moss breaks down easily but coconut coir fiber doesn’t.  It is used to improve variation in the soil mix and retain moisture for the plants.  You can use it as a substitute for the sphagnum moss.

Purchase Best Glass Terrariums On Amazon

Terrarium Soil Layers  

Terrariums don’t provide aeration to plants so you should use the best soil and other materials in this enclosed small ecosystem. When you create a terrarium, it is just like building a house because it needs a good foundation, adequate drainage, and suitable conditions for your plants. 

The soil has the quality to provide all the basic requirements such as support, oxygen, nutrients, and water. Without careful management, your terrarium can’t be the best place for your plants. 

To make your terrarium an ideal place for plants, you have to construct an appropriate environment for them where they can easily adjust. You need soil that contains activated charcoal, drainage, sphagnum moss, and potting soil. Now we will discuss the importance of all of them in a terrarium. 


In the presence of excess water, your plants will rot and harbor the growth of microbes. When you are creating a miniature garden in a glass container then your first preference is drainage. 

For this purpose, you can use gravel or small rocks as the first layer in your terrarium.  For drainage material, the other options are chips of granite or marble or crushed pots. 

The size of the drainage layer depends upon the size of the terrarium. It is better to place 1 to 2 inches of drainage material. If you don’t want that unwanted bacteria to destroy the ecosystem of your terrarium then you should first clean the drainage material before adding it. 


Activated charcoal has the quality that it can absorb all the harmful organic chemicals. Besides this charcoal helps to eliminate unpleasant odors from the terrarium.  

You can also mix charcoal with drainage material.  But it is better to use charcoal after drainage material because it also helps to purify the water. 

Charcoal contains carbon that absorbs all the toxic and dangerous chemicals from the ecosystem of the terrarium.  It means the main purpose of using activated charcoal is to purify the ecosystem. 

If you don’t have activated charcoal for your terrarium then you can use life moss.  This is the best substitute for activated charcoal and helps to keep the terrarium clean.  

Life moss absorbs moisture from the terrarium and helps in breaking down waste.  The other quality of live moss is that it provides insulation to regulate the temperature in the terrarium.  It helps to make your fascinating display more natural and green. 


The other name of sphagnum moss is bog moss. When you apply a layer of sphagnum moss then it helps to protect the activated charcoal layer in your terrarium.  

The real purpose of applying sphagnum moss is that it does not allow potting soil to mix with activated charcoal and drainage material. The development of mold in the terrarium is not possible due to the presence of bog moss. 


Fill three fourth of the volume of that terrarium with gravel, activated charcoal, and moss. Now you can apply potting soil as a top layer.  You can use regular houseplants or buy a commercial one.  

If you buy African violet mix this is the best choice for your terrarium.  You can also prepare your soil by mixing sterilized soil, peat moss, and vermiculite in equal proportions. 

Vermiculite and most both are essential ingredients in the soil because peat moss is dry decayed vegetation and vermiculite is a natural mineral. Both ingredients are easily available in gardening stores. 


After adding the potting mix you can plant your desired plants according to the type of terrarium but it looks dull and monotonous. It is better to make it more colorful so it will become the center of attraction in your living room. 

After putting in the potting soil you can show your creativity by adding decorative soil layers. After the thickest layer of potting soil, you can decorate the terrarium with colorful sand and stones. 

The outer look of the terrarium will become more fascinating and adorable. You can also use glass beads, small sea shells, and colored pebbles to make it more interesting for your visitors. 


Now is the time to choose plants for your terrarium. It is better to choose smaller plants for terrariums as they are mini indoor gardens. According to the type of your terrarium, you can select tropical plants or succulent plants, or cacti.  

The moisture requirements for every plant are different so you can choose them according to the environment of your terrarium. Succulents are not perfect for growing in a closed terrarium because they need an open top and less moisture.  

Tropical plants can easily adjust in closed terrariums because they need more moisture in humid environments.

For a closed terrarium, you can choose plants from the following list.  Hope this will be helpful for you in selecting plants for your closed terrarium.

  1. Baby Tears
  2. African Violets
  3. Friendship Plants
  4. Fittonia
  5. Small Peperomias
  6. Chamaedorea Palms
  7. SpiderWort
  8. Cushion Moss 
  9. Adiantum ferns 
  10. Phalaenopsis orchids 

Following is the list of the best plants for open terrariums.

  1. String of Pearls
  2. Hens and Chicks
  3. Pincushion Cactus
  4. Paddle Plant
  5. Zebra Haworthia 


To make your terrarium different and unique you can add different decorative items to show your personal style.  These decorative items can be sculptures,  decorative signs,  pretty rocks,  seashells, and anything that will make your terrarium more inviting and appealing. 

Purchase Best Glass Terrariums On Amazon

How To Make Your Layers More Decorative?

terrarium soil

If you add beautiful contrast of texture in the layers then you will make your terrarium more bewitching.  Make sure the layers must be thick enough so the contrast can easily be seen between them. 

If you want to create a flow within them then you should make the layer higher from one side and lower from the other side.  If you add different colors of gravel and sand for making layers then they will create stand-out patterns.  

Your terrarium will become more fascinating if the colors of gravel or sand are according to the colors of the flower of the terrarium.  After doing these little steps you will show your creativity to others and create a masterpiece. 

Purchase Best Glass Terrariums On Amazon

Recent Posts