Introduction: Self-Designed, Self-Sustainable Terrarium

Are you looking for a unique gift to give, a craft for your kids to do, or something to put on your desk at work? This is the project for you. This project is affordable, quick to complete, and sustainable. No background knowledge on gardening or botany is required to complete this project, which is a self-designed and self-sustaining terrarium.

Step 1: Acquire Your Materials

The following project requires two sets of materials:

Marbling Glass Container Materials:

  • A container to hold water
  • Glass container (large enough for your hand to comfortably move around in)
  • 2 to 3 different types of nail polish (the darker the nail polish, the better)
  • Paper towels for easy clean-up

Self-Sustaining Terrarium Materials:

Essential Items:

  • Glass container (large enough for your hand to comfortably move around in)
  • Pebbles
  • Activated charcoal (can be purchased from a pet store)
  • Moss
  • Potting soil
  • Small plant(s)


  • Sticks/twigs

Step 2: Getting Ready to Marble

  • Prepare your materials for the glass container marbling.
  • Make sure you have a deep container filled ½ way with water.

Step 3: Using the Nail Polish

  • Once you have filled the container with water, pour 2-3 drops nail polish in, each color in the center of the other.

Note: The darker the nail polish color, the better. Lighter colors will not appear on the container as well.

Step 4: Start to Marble

  • You can now begin the marbling process.
  • Take your jar or bowl and sink the bottom of it in the nail polish.
  • The nail polish should stick to the glass when you sink the container into it, as seen in the photos.
  • When you see the nail polish stick to the container, gently pull the container out of the water.

Note: Sometimes it is difficult to get this on the first try. There is no specific way to do this correct on the first try. You just have to keep trying until it works. Also, make sure the container you are using has a big enough opening for you to create your terrarium in later.

Step 5: Let the Container Dry

  • After you have pulled the jar out of the water and nail polish, place the container upside down on a paper towel to dry.
  • You can place it next to an open window or fan to speed up the drying process.
  • The container should take no more than 5-10 minutes to dry.

Step 6: Start Making Your Terrarium

  • You can now begin making the terrarium.
  • First start by covering the bottom of the jar with pebbles.

Step 7: Using the Activated Charcoal

  • Next, pour 2-3 tablespoons of activated charcoal on top of the pebbles.
  • The activated charcoal will filter and purify the water trapped in the jar, allowing it to create an ecosystem.

Note: You can find activated charcoal at your local pet store.

Step 8: Using the Moss

  • Place a thin layer of moss on top of the activated charcoal.
  • The moss will hold water and give nutrients to the plant.

Step 9: Using the Soil

  • Add 1 cup of soil on top of the moss.
  • This is so the plant will be able to root itself in the soil.

Step 10: Preparing to Plant

  • Make a small hole in the soil to place the roots of the plant in.

Step 11: Planting

  • You can now place the plant in the hole you made in the soil.
  • Make sure that you pat the roots into the soil.
  • If needed, add more soil so the roots are completely covered.

Step 12: Decorating

  • You can now begin to decorate your terrarium.
  • You can place pebbles, twigs, or other decorative pieces in your terrarium.

Step 13: Watering

  • Water the plant.
  • This will give the plant nutrients it needs to sustain itself.

Note: The amount of water you apply should be based off the type of plant. In this case, the succulent plant in the photos does not need much water.

Step 14: All Done!

    Congratulations! You have just completed a self-designed, self-sustainable terrarium. By following the steps listed above you should have created a self-sustaining terrarium that will be able to withstand time. Unlike plants that need lots of attention with constant watering and sunlight, your terrarium will be able to produce its own ecosystem and require minimal effort from you once you have created it. We hope that you enjoyed working on this project and will continue to make more personalized terrariums. This can be a fun project for your kids or can be a gift for a coworker. The possibilities are endless. We hope you come back soon.

    Step 15: Check Out the Video

    If you want, check out the video we made for this craft.