12+ Creative DIY Terrarium Ideas to Try – Get Your Craft On!

The wonderful thing about the terrarium hobby is the many ways to be creative and conjure original and beautiful work.

It is a niche that lies at the intersection between nature, art, and science.

Therefore, it’s a field ripe for experimentation and where new ground is constantly broken.

So, I thought compiling some of my favorite ways to innovate your designs (with these twelve unique terrarium ideas) would be a good idea.

Whether you find an idea you would like to emulate or another that serves as inspiration – there is a little something for everyone on this list, so stick around.

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12+ Cool Terrarium Ideas

1. Tiny Terrarium

A fun, readily accessible way to enjoy the terrarium craft is to experiment with tiny terrariums.

Just how small can you go, you ask? As small as you like!

7 miniature terrariums in various containers
I like to use old spice jars, olive oil bottles, apothecary jars, and miniature vials – potential tiny terrariums are all around you.

Although a tiny terrarium sacrifices volume and some detail, they can be created much quicker and easily fit inside the nooks and crannies of your mantelpieces or worktops.

placing peperomia cutting in a mini terrarium
You may wish to honor a single type of moss or insert a few small plant cuttings to bring your design to life.

👉 Read more5 Tiny Terrariums to Try Today.

2. Moss Terrarium – AKA Mossarium

Someone who hasn’t dipped their feet far into the botanical pool will probably pay little attention to the tiny green wonders that adorn our forests and streets.

For those initiated, such as yourself, moss becomes un-unnoticeable.

Verdant and fluffy, moss is the most vital component you can include inside a terrarium. It transforms the misshapen and dull into the full and vibrant.

Big mossarium with hardscape
It shines as the sole inhabitant of a terrarium – used to create the texture of luscious hills and deep groves.

This, we call the mossarium: a celebration of the underappreciated bryophyte.

Learn how to put moss at the center of your design, take proper care of it, and reap its aesthetic delights.

👉 Read moreDIY Mossarium: Step-by-Step

Or, shop terrarium moss on Etsy.

3. Sand Art Terrarium

Layering different materials within a closed terrarium is one of the most popular methods to create a proper foundation for your flora.

One of those materials, at least, will need to provide a drainage function to relieve your roots of excess water. Be it Leca, aquarium gravel, or sand.

Sand, however, has a secondary function. Another art form has found itself intertwined with the terrarium hobby.

Sand art.

Black, red and orange sand art layers
If layered carefully, you can use various colors of sand to create beautiful works of art within the layering of the terrarium itself.

It takes a little practice, and you’ll need to be careful about overwatering – vigorous watering can upset your patterns, but it’s worth it.

With a little time and patience, you can add an entirely new layer (pun intended) of artistry to your work.

👉 Read moreTerrarium Sand Guide.

Or, shop colored sand on Etsy.

4. Foraged Terrarium

For many, the fun in building terrariums lies in solving challenges and being resourceful. So what better way to build a terrarium than by using materials around you?

The key to a good foraged or native terrarium is to find and use elements close to hand.

Mason jar terrarium and other containers
For example, starting with your glass container, I recommend something like an old mason jar (or even a liquor bottle terrarium?).

In most cases, other layering materials can be found in your home/garden.

A shallow layer of gravel should be easily sourced from the outside world. Old BBQ charcoal can serve as a charcoal layer and houseplant cuttings as plants.

Moss growing between tiles on pavement
And who doesn’t have moss growing in the cracks of their yard? 

The only thing you’ll need to source properly is your terrarium substrate/soil.

A terrarium made using potting soil or native soil is unlikely to survive – so I recommend grabbing a bag of this substrate mix by EZ Botanicals.

5. Open Terrarium

Open terrarium with cacti and succulents
Cacti and succulent terrariums offer a different angle to try.

Visually striking and somewhat easy to build, an open terrarium (perhaps more accurately referred to as a planter) is a lidless glass container that typically hosts cacti and succulents instead of tropical plants.

And while simple to construct, they have completely different care requirements to a closed terrarium, and ensuring their longevity can be tricky.

All of which can pose an exciting new venture to tropical terrarium old-hands.

Not to mention if you’ve run out of spots with bright indirect light, this terrarium will gladly sit in full sun.

👉 Read more: See our articles on How to Make an Open Terrarium or the more specific Cactus Terrarium and Desert Terrarium guides.

6. Environment Themed Terrarium

Cave themed terrarium with hardscape and plants
A cave terrarium created using dragon stone.

The self-sustaining systems inside terrariums operate similarly to our ecosystems on Earth.

A wonderful way to give your terrarium more of that worldly feel is to design an environment-inspired or to-scale scene inside.

You could create a beach terrarium, a mountain terrarium, a rainforest terrarium, or a ravine terrarium.

Hardscape is going to be your best friend here.

Two types of terrarium rock and one piece of wood
Using terrarium wood and rocks will sculpt your landscape and create your natural elements in miniature.

There are a few things you need to pay attention to, such as the size of plants used and the positioning of your decorative rocks to ensure a satisfying, realistic visual.

Other than that, this is one of the most accessible ways to quickly elevate your design towards something eminently impressive.

👉 Read more10 Terrarium Themes

7. Terrarium Lamp

To best enjoy your magnificent micro-world, the right lighting is paramount.

Conventional methods of lighting up your scene are all well and fine, but a terrarium lamp is something quite different and particularly stunning.

Moreover, the low-level light can support your terrarium, providing enough light to keep your ecosystem healthy – dependent on the bulb.

It will take a little bit of technicality, but not nearly as much as you may expect.

Hands placing lamp fixture onto bottle
All you need is a bottle lamp kit like this, which you can attach to the terrarium lid. (Image credit: ilikethatlamp on Etsy).

👉 Read moreTerrarium Lamp DIY Guide.

8. Hanging Glass Terrarium

two terrarium globes with hanging fixtures
There’s no reason a terrarium must stand solemnly on a flat surface.(Image credit: MrTerrarium on Etsy).

Why not experiment with the aesthetic adventure of housing your terrarium from up high?

It allows light to pass through easily, thus creating a gorgeous display in an area of your choosing.

They can, too, free up some surface area, especially if you’ve gone a little terrarium-mad and your partner needs some space to chop onions.

Alternatively, a more accessible “hanging” terrarium option is hanging air plants within your terrarium with a little fishing wire to look like it’s levitating. Magic!

👉 Read moreHanging Terrarium 101.

See hanging terrarium containers on Etsy.

9. Herb Terrariums

There is something exceptionally exciting about the prospect of growing your produce within a terrarium.

Not all garden herbs will thrive within a closed, humid environment, but many annuals, such as basil and chamomile, can.

You can place propagated cuttings inside a terrarium environment, or you may want to attempt growing them from seed.

The great thing about a terrarium is that it can act like a greenhouse – magnifying light and ensuring a consistently humid atmosphere – which is ideal for many herbs.

👉 Read moreHerb Terrarium 101

10. Bioactive Terrariums

Turning your typical tropical terrarium bioactive is an exciting way to fully realize the self-sustaining potential of your ecosystem.

While it sounds like a gigantic feat to pull off, it could be something as simple as adding springtails or isopods.

Springtail culture with food
Springtails are the easiest addition to your terrarium; as you can see, they’re tiny.
cubaris isopod up close
Isopods – which you may know as rollie pollie bugs – are more exciting (and a little more hands-on); they come in all kinds of cool colors and morphs.

These detritivores are incredible composters.

They feed on decaying organic matter within your ecosystem and return nutrients to the soil that plants can use.

Other but slightly more complex options for larger closed terrariums would be worms and millipedes.

👉 Read moreHow to Make a Bioactive Terrarium.

Or, shop springtails and isopods with our partners, specialist breeders Rubber Ducky Isopods.

11. Resin Terrarium

Resin is a fairly miraculous material.

In the terrarium world, it can be used to create transparent “fake water,” and it’s a fantastic medium to explore if you want to up your terrarium game.

Often paired with hardscape and living or preserved moss to create a fabulous scene, you can use resin dyes to fully realize your miniature environment. 

Lagoon resin terrarium
This fantastic example demonstrates how brilliant it can look. (Image credit: DoodleBirdTerrariums on Etsy).

👉 Read moreResin Terrarium Guide.

12. Terrarium Table

We’ve come to the final frontier, terrarium furniture.

As someone who makes terrariums, I often get suggestions from friends and people I meet.

‘OOH, you could make a terrarium table!’ is one that comes up regularly. 

You can use several methods to achieve this, and they’re not all as difficult as you might imagine.

If you’re crafty, the possibilities are endless. And needless to say, the results look fantastic.

👉 Read moreHow to Make a Terrarium Table.

There you have it!

They don’t need to be taken individually; you could well combine them.

For example, a tiny foraged and bioactive terrarium is quite possible. Heck, stick it on a hanger, and you’re really on to something.

The point is, don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s nature that we’re celebrating, and the essence of that beauty is variety, not uniformity.

How about trying a classic Jar TerrariumLight Bulb Terrarium, or Fairy Garden Terrarium?

Or a not-so-classic Pokemon Terrarium

Have I left anything crucial off this list? If you’ve tried one of these ideas or have one of your own, comment below and let me know.

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