Make a Home Made Terrarium or a Rainforest Habitat

A terrarium is used to simulate a rainforest-like effect by containing the moisture inside of an object and maintaining a suitable habitat for plants and animals. You will want to choose small plants and/or animals that prefer shade and are water loving and do well in the humidity.

Some plants to consider are the venus fly-trap, moss, ferns, ivy, violets, and orchids. You can make a terrarium out of nearly anything that will allow you to form humidity to build up condensation. It really just depends on how big you want your plants. If you want to have bigger plants, you need to have a bigger container. In this design, you’ll be shown how to make a terrarium out of a glass jar but you can make a terrarium out of much larger items.


In our test terrarium we’ve set up a humidity monitor and incorporated animals that are native to the rainforest habitat– a Chinese Water Dragon and tree frogs. To make a miniature rainforest:

You will need:

1 glass jar and lid or cork stopper (Any size – Bulk food jars are great)

1 small bag of activated charcoal, which can be purchased at a local pet supply store

1 small bag of soil (dirt)

1 small bag of fish tank rocks (or small pebbles found outside)

Choose a few plants (such as a small fern and a small African violet.)

Peat Moss or dark potting soil


Step 1: Make sure your jar is very clean. Fill 1/5th of the jar with your small pebbles.

Step 2: Add a thin layer of the activated charcoal to the top of the pebbles. (The charcoal will help filter impurities from your plants water source.)

Step 3: Cover the charcoal with a 1/2 inch layer of peat moss.

Step 4: Now add a 1/2 inch layer of your soil over the peat moss. (If the root system of your plant is longer, add a bit more soil if need be.)

Step 5: Plant your fern and violet in the dirt. Tip: If your hand can’t fit into the jar, try using small tongs, chopsticks, or even a fork to dig out a small hole and to help lower the plant into place.

Step 6: Lightly water the soil until it’s moist and then place the lid on the jar. Place your terrarium in a spot where it will get plenty of sunlight, but do not place it in direct sunlight.


Do not overwater your terrarium.
If it seems dry you may mist it lightly with a spray bottle. Using a humidity gauge you can judge how humid the atmosphere is inside your terrarium. Keep the heat fairly high, ranging from 80-95 degrees.

If it’s too wet inside the terrarium, you run the risk of mold growing inside and killing your plants. After a short while, you should see condensation build up and this is what your plants will use to survive. Very rarely will you need to water the plants inside the terrarium.

If there are animals in your terrarium bear in mind that you will need to screen the top and spray it regularly to keep the humidity high as well as give them good air to breath.

See how long it takes to build up the humidity so that it actually rains inside your terrarium. Test and keep track of how well the plants do and how quickly they grow as well as whether or not they prosper.  Determine which plants grow best in this type of environment.

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