Terrarium with No Soil Build

Soilless terrarium

Hello lovely people! Today, we’ll be making a soilless terrarium together. Yes, a terrarium with no soil. Personally, I find it easy to maintain and less prone to mould and algae.

Catch the tutorial below to learn how you can make your own!

What You’ll Need
  1. Container – Glass jar – Try one with thin walls, so you can enjoy your plants without much distortion from the glass. Since we’re working with moss today, we’ll use a closed jar to keep humidity high, to keep them happy.
  2. Hardscape – Large lava rock, gives texture for the moss to grab onto. The large pores help add a variety of texture and visual interest to the design as well. Black can help your plants pop, but it’s a personal choice.
  3. Drainage layer – I’m using a crushed leca and pumice mix recycled and sanitized from a previous build. Porous material like leca and pumice wick water up into the substrate, without allowing it to be too saturated. They help reduce the amount of water trapped below as well. For a soilless terrarium, this is optional. I’ve included it as an aesthetic choice.
  4. Plants – Moss – Great with low light and easy to care for. You can get them fresh from your garden, or order dehydrated live moss, that you revive by adding water. You may try the dehydrated kind if you don’t have room to cultivate extra moss outside your terrarium. From personal experience, I’ve found that live moss dried for transport still has a limited shelf-life. If they are left unused for too long, they may appear green for a few days when rehydrated, then turn brown and die. Try not to store any dried live moss for overly long periods of time.
  5. Substrate – Small lava rock. Black helps your plants pop, but it’s purely a personal choice. You can use what you personally enjoy.
  6. Tools
    • Tweezers will help you work in a small glass container much more easily. Try one with rounded tips to reduce breakage and damage to your plants.
    • A metal spoon/shovel with a long handle is great for shaping the substrate in a small glass container.
  1. Add your drainage layer. This will be your reservoir where excess water collects. For a terrarium with no soil, a drainage layer is optional because we’re using pure lava rock as the substrate. But I still like to include it as an aesthetic choice.
  2. Add substrate layer, we’re using black lava rock today.
  3. Add your hardscape. Select and layout large lava rock until you find an arrangement you like.
  4. Plant.
  5. Mist, clean the glass and you’re set.

For moss, spritz to water when they appear dry/turn yellowish. They should be a fresh green when hydrated.

If you notice your moss looking a little malnourished, you can try a very dilute spritz of organic fertilizer. Go easy on it, as moss does not require heavy fertilizing, and too much can cause fertiliser burn.

The key ingredients in this build are what makes it a terrarium with no soil.

If you ever need to rebuild, simply pour out the substrate and rocks, sanitise them, and you’re good to reuse the materials. You can try sanitising with boiling water. This avoids the scenario of toxic chemicals being trapped by your substrate and leaching out in future builds. If you prefer chemical methods, hydrogen peroxide is a popular choice among plant hobbyists, as it sanitises while breaking down into oxygen and water quickly.

Now, I hope this inspires you to give a terrarium with no soil a try. If there’s anything else you’d like to learn about, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting and happy planting!

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