how to make a herb terrarium

So. Terrariums are pretty great. I’ve tried my hand at a few terrariums over the past month or so ever since I saw a few choice ones posted on my friends’ Facebook streams. Such as this infamous Breaking Bad terrarium from etsy.

At first I thought the whole terrarium making process was a pretty complicated one, but I’ve realised that once you’ve got all your tools together, a quick and easy one will take you anywhere between 20 – 30 min. If you’re fast. And on a sunny day.

Indeed, I was rushing for my beloved friend‘s surprise party one afternoon and smashed this easy-to-care, succulent terrarium together in about 20 min – booya.

terrarium, succulents, succulent terrarium, gift terrarium

My first terrarium was a little bonsai number and it’s graciously taking its sweet time to grow, but I figure I’d tackle something a little more tricky.

As part of my bid to get back to regularly writing / content making, I’ve been signed up for a 6-month stint volunteering for the good folks at Oxfam Australia for their GROW campaign, writing blogs on sustainable eating and food waste and the like.

My most recent – and final post, since my stint ended recently (so sad) – was tackling the topic of sustainable eating. It was basically an excuse for me to break out the terrarium making tools on a simple “How To” on terrarium-making herb style.

This post was recently published on Oxfam Australia’s youth website, 3Things, where you’ll also find some of my other bits of writing. I’ve republished it below for an easy read otherwise.


Pretty house decor, plus a tickbox on the ol’ sustainable food you say? It can be done with a herb terrarium.

Eating sustainably doesn’t have to be hard. Lots of people like you and me are already taking that first step by kickstarting our own gardens at home, whatever the size – house or balcony, you choose! By taking advantage of the rich earth we live in (and our local garden centre – yay!), we could help reduce food waste and build an alternative food future that produces enough food to feed the world.

Terrariums make great gifts, balcony gardens, and sit pretty all at the same time. A thing to remember about terrariums is that you’re building a micro-ecosystem, so it’s important that the herbs you choose work and grow harmoniously together – no use having one plant that needs full sun and another that needs shade in the same house. It’s like putting Wolverine in the same room with Cyclops – fun times!

If you’re a herb enthusiast – frankly, who isn’t – then this project will be pretty much everything you’ve ever wanted for a quiet weekend in.

herb terrarium, how to make a herb terrarium, rosemary thyme oregano terrarium


  • Glass / plastic bowl (discount/two dollar shops are good for these)
  • Very hot (not boiling) water
  • All purpose potting mix
  • Charcoal
  • Sphagnum / peat moss
  • A variety of pebbles in different shapes and sizes (we used 3 types)
  • Flyscreen or garden mesh
  • Small pots of herbs (we chose rosemary, oregano, and thyme, which grow rather harmoniously together)
  • Fertiliser / plant food – optional, but useful for that extra kick

rosemary, thyme, oregano, herb terrarium


1. Sterilise your new ecosystem by filling your bowl half full with the hot water and swirling it around so that the sides are wet properly. Let it sit for 5 minutes so that the steam builds properly. Empty out your water and sit your bowl upside down, so the steam can float around for another couple of minutes.

sterilisation terrarium, herb terrarium sterilisation

2. Break out your pebbles and fill the bottom of the bowl up to about 4-5cm (1-2 inches) height.

pebbles terrarium, herb terrarium pebbles

3. Cut out your mesh to fit the top of the pebbles. This will act as part of your terrarium’s drainage system.

terrarium drainage, herb drainage terrarium

4. Layer up the charcoal to about 2-3cm (1 inch) height. Charcoal will help combat the smell of the soil – this is particularly useful if your new ecosystem plans on spending time indoors.

terrarium charcoal, herb terrarium

5. Now we continue our drainage system by adding our peat / sphagnum moss layer to the height of about 2-3cm (1 inch). There’s no need to press down the layers as the weight of the whole thing will do that on its own (thanks gravity!)

peat moss herb terrarium, peat moss terrarium

6. Soil time! Dump about 2-5cm (1-2 inches) height of potting mix straight on top of the moss. Don’t forget your herb seedlings will also come with soil, so feel free not to dump too much of the potting mix on. I went a bit happy with my parents’ magical supply of gardening tools, so the fertiliser you see in the photos is completely optional.

terrarium potting mix, herb terrarium, fertilizer terrarium

7. Make some holes for your new seedlings by digging a little into the soil with your hands or a small spade.

herb potting mix, herb terrarium potting mix

terrarium layers, herb terrarium layers

8. NOW WE PLANT ALL THE THINGS. This part can get a bit tricky as it’s case of trial and error to get the placement of your herbs correct. There’ll be a lot of root trimming, prodding and praying that your seedlings don’t fall apart in the planting process, but don’t worry – these are resilient little things.

rosemary terrarium, thyme rosemary terrarium, herb terrarium

9. Once you’re happy with the plants, start decorating the final layer with pebbles.

terrarium pebbles, herb terrarium

And you’re done! Woohoo!!

herb terrarium, how to herb terrarium

Need extra terrarium making tips?

    • Keep in mind that your herbs. WILL. GROW. So make sure the jars or bowls you buy allow room for growth. Also helps to check the growth rate, sun and water requirements of the plants you’re planting.
    • Fancy trying other herb combinations? Basil, parsley and dill work well together, as do fennel and rosemary. If you’re a mint lover, peppermint and lemon balms love the shade, while chives and tarragon are lovers of cool weather.
    • Your local IKEA and two dollar / discount store are your friends. Etsy is also pretty useful if you want to add that special touch to your terrarium gifts with miniature goodies.


By the way, if you were wondering how my herb terrarium is growing now – IT’S GROWING TOO FAST AND IT’S OVERFLOWING. HELP, SOMEONE TAKE IT OFF ME.

This post was brought to you by Janelle Monáe’s cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, which is tops!