Make a coffee table terrarium

Traditional Terrariums

Traditional terrariums are mini landscapes grown in glass bowls and jars or under a dome. They are a fantastic way to add plants to your interior spaces especially if space is limited but you can also take them a step further. For a fantastic feature piece, you can turn a glass-topped coffee table into a terrarium with a few adjustments and clever selection of plants. And don’t stop there, if you have a fish tank that’s been sitting empty, take it from aquarium to terrarium in a few easy steps.

Gather your supplies

• Fired clay balls

• Sphagnum moss

• Horticultural charcoal

• Potting mix

• Moss

• Plants

Coffee table with a pond shell inside
Photography Brent Wilson

STEP 1 Build a grow box from marine plywood to fit inside the table legs. Reinforce the legs for the extra weight and line the box with a PVC pond liner to waterproof it. Or, you can use a pond shell in the base with ply cladding, then stain or paint it.

Clay balls and sphagnum moss in a terrarium
Photography Brent Wilson

STEP 2 Create a base layer of fired clay balls. Soak sphagnum moss in a bucket of water then, working with a handful at a time, squeeze out excess moisture and spread a layer about 20-30mm deep over clay balls.

Horticultural charcoal in a terrarium
Photography Brent Wilson

STEP 3 Pour a thin layer of horticultural charcoal over the sphagnum moss and spread it out evenly.

Plant up a terrarium
Photography Brent Wilson

STEP 4 Scoop potting mix over the charcoal layer to about 150mm deep. Make planting holes, remove each plant from pot and place in hole. Backfill with potting mix and firm down.

Spray-mist terrarium plants
Photography Brent Wilson

STEP 5 Spray the plants with water to moisten the mix and help create humidity in the terrarium. Replace the glass top and you’re done!

Coffee table terrarium
Photography Brent Wilson
Fish tank terrarium mounted on a wall
Photography Brent Wilson