How to Make a Terrarium and Witch's Ball

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Terrariums, Witch's BallEver wondered how to make a terrarium? 

Terrariums have gone in and out of fashion over the last 150 years since Dr. Nathaniel Ward discovered that you could grow plants in glass enclosures.

Terrariums are ideal for people who want some greenery around them but also want it to be as low maintenance as possible.

Back in style again they are being made in everything from retro 70's glass bottles, traditional style Victorian cases, to very modern blown glass containers. 

While terrariums are simple to make a Witch's Ball (called because they resemble a crystal ball) has a little secret in how they are made which I will be happy to share with you. 

In choosing the plant that you use for these projects you have to make sure that they are plants that can thrive in moisture. Ferns are mostly used because they do well in all sorts of terrariums. Maiden Hair ferns and different types of Boston Ferns are ideal as are the Polka Dot plant. Before you start planting with them make sure that they have been watered well.

To start a terrarium make sure that it is large enough for the plants that you want to use. You want small scale plants, if they are too large than either you can snip back the larger leaves or fronds or pull them apart to make two smaller plants.You might have to trim down some of the leaves of the plants to make sure that they all fit. Clean the terrarium well inside and out with vinegar and water. If you have used a commercial cleaner on the inside then rinse it with water as it can kill plants.

Making a terrarium adding perlite
As I wanted a modern look to my terrariums I used glass vases that I found at a thrift shop that had interesting shapes.

You need to start with perlite which is a light porous volcanic rock which holds moisture well. It is often used as an additive in soil mixtures. Making a paper cone pour about an inch of perlite into the bottom of your container. Make sure that it is evenly distributed.

Making a terrarium adding soil
Using the same paper cone carefully add two to three inches of soil, depending on the size of your container and the size of the plants that you are adding.

Using a stick as a tool in the terrarium
You will find that a simple stick is a great tool to use when making your terrarium. With your stick dig a hole in the soil where you want your plant to go. If you have one larger plant make sure that it either goes to the back of the container or in the middle.

I generally only plant 3 items in the smaller terrariums.

Planting in the terrarium
Take your plant out of the pot and remove as much soil as possible while still leaving a ball of dirt around the roots. Drop the plant gently into the container and using your stick press it into the soil and fill soil around it.

Cleaning the terrarium

When you have planted all your foliage there might be some dirt on the inside of your container. Wrap a piece of paper towel around your stick and gently clean the inside of your terrarium.

Finishing a terrarium with cling wrap
To seal this type of container you can take a piece of kitchen cling film and pull it tightly over the opening. With your finger tips rub the excess off the edge and it will be barely noticable. This will completely seal your terrarium but make it easy to access if you need to add water or trim leaves. You can reseal it once you have done any maintenance.

Terrariums, Witch's Ball finished
When you are finished put them in a bright spot but out direct sunlight.

I use to make these "Witch's Ball" terrariums for a very upscale florist many years ago. They are very easy to make and take care of. The hardest part might be finding a round glass to make them in. 

We use to use clear light globes that were meant for light fixtures and you can still find these at some thrift stores and Restore. If you can not find  a round glass then use a round bowl turned upside down, the top will be a little flat but will still give you the same effect.

Witch's Ball
I just happened to find this round bottle at a junk shop and paid $1 for it. I suspect that it use to hold decorative vegetables in oil or something similar. You will also need a base that the globe can sit on.

You  need two pieces of stiff clear plastic that you will be making into sleeves. I used plastic from a box that I bought decorations in but you can find plastic folders from office supply stores that would be good to use.

Plastic sleeve to fit in witch's globe

Roll up the plastic into a tube so it fits snugly inside the mouth of the globe and tape it.

second plastic sleeve to fit in witch's globe
Roll up a second piece of plastic that you can slip inside the first piece and tape it.

Plastic sleeve to fit in witch's globe 2
The plastic sleeves need to be the exact same height. You are going to be planting your main plant in the smaller sleeve so see how deep the root system is and measure out how high the sleeve needs to be. 

You can remove quite a bit of the soil from the plant. You do not want it sitting too high in the globe. Staple both sleeves as tape will eventually fall off in the moisture.

Making a witch's ball filling with soil
Tape the larger sleeve into the globe, the tape will  be hidden by dirt. Very carefully reach into the globe with soil and lay soil around the base of the globe. It needs to be level with the top of the plastic sleeve so when the plant is put inside it will be hidden.

If you have a very large globe you can plant more foliage in this area.

Placing plant into witch's globe
Place the main plant into the smaller sleeve and place it into the base that has about an inch of soil in it. You will need another pair of hands to gently hold the plant as you lower the globe over it.

Witch's Ball
Place the globe firmly on the base.

The effect of the Witch's Ball is quite beautiful. Make sure that it does not sit in full sunlight through out the day as it will make it sweat and put the water ratio inside off balance. If the plants were moist enough before enclosing them they should be fine for several months if not a year. If you find that they seem to be drying out lift the Witch's ball slightly off the base and pour some water into the base.

These are a great way to display plants with out all the fuss that most house plants require.

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These are really beautiful. Thanks for sharing the instructions of creating them...Christine

They look great, perfect if you are looking for low maintenance house plants. Thanks for sharing the tutorial at BC Good Life Wednesdays.

These came out really beautiful and you gave some good info. My daughter made a bunch of this last spring and they still look lovely. I'm thinking for Christmas gifts these would be a welcome touch of green for almost anybody. Kudos!

Thank you for sharing these with us. I will have to show this to my boyfriend, who mentioned that he wanted to make one.

Thanks for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday, I featured this on my blog tonight! Come check it out and grab a button :)

They are really easy to do, I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun putting them together! Ingrid

Thanks so much! Ingrid

How do we maintain it or does it actually last for only couple of days?

A sealed terrarium can be left for several months and even up to a year with no maintenance. Usually you have to open them up to trim the leave of the plants so they do not get overgrown.

Depending on how they grow you might find that you will need to pull some of the plants out and divide them when they are about 1 year old.

The terrariums shown in the article are now about 3 months old and I have had to do nothing to them. Best of luck on your own terrariums!


I love the absolute simplicity of these terrariums. I made a couple of these recently, and they are as much fun to make as to look at- and Very maintenance free! I used some different deco-rational pieces such as bark, snail shells, and even sharks teeth instead of pebbles. you can check it out here

Very informative, and beautiful pictures! Thanks much :)

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