The Intriguing World of Moss: Moss Terrariums

by Barbara-

Main picture

The thought of creating a little world in a form of a terrarium has always intrigued me. I have attempted my hands at plant terrariums with some of them not so successful. I however have come back to the idea of trying my hands at terrariums again but this time with moss. The plush velvety texture of moss is eye catching and beautiful as a centrepiece. Just search for moss terrariums on Pinterest and you will find all sorts of beautiful sceneries created with moss. 

Armed with a freezer bag and a plastic knife, I went moss hunting. I remembered seeing moss growing on the side of a bike path close to my apartment in the summer and that was the first place I looked.

I identified the moss I picked as Bryum moss, most commonly found on sidewalks. It looks so green and feels velvety to touch. I used a plastic knife to lift the moss off the path and placed them in clear freezer bags. I was planning to keep them in the bag for a few days to make sure I didn’t bring home any insects or insect eggs, however I was too excited to start ‘terrariuming’ (if thats even a word) and so used the moss the next day. I cleaned off any dirt, sticks and debris from the moss (didn’t see any creepy crawlers, yeah!) before using.

How to  Create a Moss Terrarium
Below is a step by step instruction on how to create your very own moss terrarium to enjoy.

You will need:

  1. Fresh moss
  2. Clean container
  3. Dried moss (e.g. sphagnum moss)
  4. Rocks or pebbles
  5. Well draining soil (like cactus/succulent soil)
  6. Miniature figurines
  7. A spray bottle with water
  8. Some sort of stick or long object you can use to move things around in your terrarium when creating a scene.

Terrariums are made in layers.

Step 1: Select a container. Any clean glass container  or another clear container where light can pass through will do. I used an old jar I had sitting around from Ikea. You can use a dish to create an open terrarium or a bottle or jar for a closed terrarium. Make sure to clean the container well before use to prevent bacteria growth.

Step 2: Layer of pebbles or loose sand. This is your first layer. I added river rocks for an earthy look. The amount of rocks depend on how big and deep your glass container but keep in mind that you will need head space for your figurines.  The rocks allow for good drainage.

Step 3: Activated Charcoal. For a closed terrarium like mine, the next step would be to add a thin layer of activated charcoal or carbon (same thing) over the pebbles. Activated charcoal is the black stuff from your Brita water filter or fish tank filter. You can get one at a pet shop that sells aquarium supplies.

I read that in a closed terrarium, the charcoal will filter the air and keep it fresh.  If you are making an open terrarium, you can skip this step.

Step 4: Add a layer of Spaghnum Moss. This layer is just to prevent the next layer of soil from settling down into the pebbles. It will allow water to pass through to the bottom of the container but not soil. Wet a handful of sphagnum moss and squeeze the excess water out. Place the spahagnum moss on top of the rocks, covering the rocks completely as possible.

Step 5: Add soil. Add a layer of soil next. You do no need too much as the moss only needs to attach to it.  I added a thin layer to my terrarium, however you can get creative here and sculpt a hill, slope or valley depending on how you are designing your terrarium. You can give the soil a light misting before adding the next layer of moss. You can take advantage of this and clean off any soil adhering to the sides of the jar by misting it with water.

Step 6: Add live moss. Take your live moss and add it to the terrarium.  You can play with the placement to design your scene. I tore off bits to fill spaces in the container. If you have different types of moss go ahead and use it. It will add an interesting texture to your terrarium.

Step 7: Decorate.  Add ornaments and decorations like pebbles,  twigs, figurines etc. for a nice touch or to create a scene. And thats it! Enjoy!

Care of Moss Terrarium

All moss terrariums need filtered light and never direct sunlight. Artificial light is ok. Mist your terrarium every 2-4 weeks. Rainwater, distilled or bottled water is best in that order. Tap water is not desirable due to the chlorine content.  Condensation is common but too much may mean that your terrarium is getting too much moisture or it is getting too much sun and the moisture is being drawn out of the moss1. If the moss is dry to touch but still find condensation on the glass, lightly mist your moss and leave the top of the container off for about an hour to let the extra moisture evaporate and then move the terrarium to a shadier location1. Moss can be a challenge to maintain for long periods in a terrarium especially when their lighting needs are not being met. They can dry up turning a pale green. When that happens lightly mist. Others may turn brown when dry or dying. You may mist to revive the moss. However if you do not like the look, you may want to replace them. If you are uncertain whether your terrarium needs water, touch the soil and if it feels dry, mist it.

Mold is an issue in moss terrariums. The presence of mold or mildew indicates that the terrarium may be too wet or have poor air circulation. Remove infected parts and air out the terrarium. Inspect your moss terrarium at least once a week to check the health of your terrarium.

Any one tried moss terrariums? How long were you successful in keeping it alive?


Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.


  1. Green Obsessions » Blog Archive » Plants Under Glass

    […] things – terrariums. I have blogged about terrariums and how to make one in the past (click here and here and here). One thing that made me appreciate them even more is that since I’ve been […]

    22 . Jan . 2017
  2. Moss Terrarium Follow Up: Opened or Closed? That Is The Question! |

    […] a few weeks back, 5 weeks exactly, I put together 2 moss terrariums and made a post about them here and […]

    18 . Dec . 2014
  3. Rhonda

    Love the idea. I see you are on facebook house plant page.

    14 . Nov . 2014
    • Barbara

      Yes, I found the house plant face book page a few days ago and I love that I finally found a group of people who share in my obsession for house plants 🙂

      14 . Nov . 2014

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *