bottle it up - a mini terrarium how to

during my visit to farmlab's not a cornfield i came across something green that is rare in my neck of the woods... MOSS! yup. LA moss. i don't make too many terrariums with the fern-y moss types since most folks over here dig the dry weather desert / tropical varieties. so when i encountered this fuzzy green carpet in the wild city scape i thought - i am going to bottle this stuff up and give it a go!


and so i did! i encourage you to do the same! i have provided some instructions to help you along the way. and if you are feeling lazy (don't feel guilty - i get that way too - we can only craft up so many things!), i will be selling my bottled LA moss very soon on my etsy shop! i shall keep you posted! in the meantime below is a how to on making your own planted keepsake terrarium.


lets begin!

what you will need:
- live moss
- pea gravel / small rocks
- activated charcoal
- horticultural sand
- soil
- sphagnum moss
- a vessel (preferably with a lid / cork)
- tweezers (eyebrow tweezers are super duper if you don't have big ones like me)
- a brush or qtip
- a paper towel
- a child's enthusiasm (yes this is very important - without this you will fail :) )


so i scraped the moss off of a crevice in wall of a building downtown (told you it was "LA moss". it has been extra rainy these days so the moss was already pretty soaked and juicy. if you find moss that is a bit dry i recommend soaking it straight away. i soaked mine the next day in about an inch of rain water (the best stuff - i collect rain water when i remember - it holds so many nutrients that plants get high off of).


next is picking the right container. i used mini glass tubes with corks for this demo since i liked the concept of bottling up los angeles winter weather. but then i got excited and made some big moss terrariums as well. the size is totally up to you. whatever vessel you choose i recommend a glass vessel that has some form of a lid so that you can maintain the moisture inside of the vessel (fun tip: keep in mind that when creating a succulent terrarium, most succulents do not want to have a lid that lives on full time).


after you have selected your vessel, clean it with a mild soap and water. make sure it is totally dry before you begin to put in the terrarium ingredients.

next clean up job is your rocks or pea gravel. i used baby rocks as i like to refer to them. wash your rocks in water, scrubbing off any dirt and make sure they dry out all the way (i have been known to blow dry my rocks. not the safest idea. but i am a professional after all).

once your vessel is sparkly clean and your rocks are bathed and dry, insert a layer of rocks into your vessel. in the case of a tiny vessel like the one i am showing, i did one rock layer in order to fit the rest of the materials. however if you are making a larger terrarium you will want to lay down at least an inch of rocks.


next you lay down your activated charcoal. in these baby sized terrariums i had to break down the charcoal into finer bits so that it would fit. for larger terrariums 1/2 an inch is good. this an important step that you should not skip. the activated charcoal operates as an air filter. it prevents the terrarium from growing mold or odors.

this next step is optional. some folks do it and others don't. you can add a layer of the sphagnum moss. i soaked mine before i put it in so that my moss had a nice wet bed to sit in.

next is the soil and sand mix. combine a little bit of the sand and the soil. again the amount depends on the size of your vessel, but basically this is your deepest material.

and yippee! finally you get to drop in your moss. since i was placing it in such a mini space i used my tweezers to carefully plop the greens in. the tweezers are great for making adjustments as well. after you have placed the moss, your glass might be a big of a mess. i suggest you clean it up with either a qtip or brush. if you are doing a large terrarium a large painters brush is your BFF. a paper towel will also come in handy right about now.

VIOLA! you did it! smile! look at! stick some rocks, folks, silly things inside or keep it minimal. make sure it gets plenty of indirect light and that it stays moist.
keep in mind succulents and tropical plant terrariums require (slightly) different ingredients, process and care.


if you have any questions get in touch! if you have photos to share - send them my way! wanna trade city moss? lets chat! hope you all have a super rad weekend! look around for the magical green carpets! and if you are covered in snow - enjoy that too! xoxo

p.s. yes that bad dog is peeing on my terrarium above. i just can't control those little ones running wild in my studio!


  1. So sweet- we will be sure to have a go at this. We are over-run with moss here- I naively assumed it was everywhere! x

  2. you are, obviously, awesome. i love how those turned out! i have never seen moss here, although i was never really looking, so maybe there's more of it than i think!

  3. Oooh! Thank you so much for the tutorial. I l-o-v-e moss but I was never sure how to transplant it into a vessel of extreme awesomeness. I need charcoal - duh! I must go to my parents farm and get some good Iowa tree moss - then perhaps we could trade! (Note: my moss may have cow urine on it!)

  4. Bianca: Thanks a bunch for the terrarium tutorial. Great advice all around. Ex: I made my husband a succulent terrarium for his office...gave it a lid. Disaster. Lots of mold growing and it just died. I thought it would be a great "green" thing for him because he forgets to water live plants. So, it was disappointing that it died anyway. Hopefully I can make him another.

    Thanks again. Your works of green are beautiful.

  5. So great those tiny terrariums! I made one like them when I was a child. I also made a tiny aquarium in the same style, but without fish of course, but with a tiny underwater snail :)

  6. Oh, those little plant-bottles are so great !!

    Thanks again for your sweet comment on my post about the bird.