How To Make An Orchid Terrarium – Create A Beautiful Living Artwork

Plant an elegant orchid terrarium with this simple step-by-step project that will make a showpiece for your indoor garden

When learning how to make an orchid terrarium, you need to decide whether it should be open or closed. This closed terrarium contains a beautiful white orchid
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Learning how to make an orchid terrarium is a simple, inexpensive project that creates a stunning decorative feature.

Terrariums have soared in popularity in recent years, and planting them has become an art form. These enchanting miniature worlds offer a creative outlet for displaying small plants and even wildlife. 

Orchids are sculptural flowers that make ideal centerpiece plants. Once established, they will require minimal maintenance, as the glazed container will help to control temperature and promote humidity, reducing the need for watering.

When learning how to make an orchid terrarium, you need to decide whether it should be open or closed. This closed terrarium contains a beautiful white orchid

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How To Make An Orchid Terrarium – Step-By-Step Guide

Making an orchid terrarium requires a glass vessel, suitable terrarium plants, and a growing medium – you can use small pebbles or purchase terrarium gravel.

Read on to discover how to successfully create your miniature living display. A simple design can be made in less than an hour.

Pink orchids in open terrarium

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. Open or Closed Terrarium?

In general, whether to opt for an open or closed terrarium depends on personal preference. However, when making an orchid terrarium, it is usually best to opt for an open terrarium that is not sealed shut.

This is because orchid roots usually need a certain amount of airflow, otherwise they will eventually rot. An open terrarium will provide some airflow, whereas a closed terrarium will not.

However, if it is your preferred option then there are some species that can be planted in a closed terrarium – Masdevallia orchids are the most compatible option.

Nearly any clear glass container is suitable for hosting your terrarium. Check out the local thrift store for a vase, large pickle jar, goldfish bowl, or even an aquarium. Make sure this has been thoroughly cleaned before use.

2. Choose The Right Orchid

Unless you are planting a large terrarium, you will need to opt for a miniature orchid to ensure it doesn’t outgrow the vessel or dominate other plants. It will also need to be a species that thrives in a high-humidity environment.

Happily, there are many different types of orchids that are suitable, including: Aerangis, Angraecum, Cattleya, Dendrobium, Dracula, Laelia, Lepanthes, Masdevallia, Oncidiums, Phalaenopsis, Platystele, and Tolumnia.

Adding plants to a terrarium

(Image credit: Future Content Hub)

3. Add Compatible Companion Plants

Growing an orchid on its own in a terrarium can make a striking statement. However, they also look great combined with other small plants. These will ensure your terrarium has appeal when the orchid isn’t flowering.

You will need to choose plants that share similar care requirements to your orchid. They also need to be on the small side so that they don’t dominate the main star.

Good choices include air plants, baby’s tear, small ferns, peperomia, selaginella, and mosses.

4. Include A Drainage Layer

When making an orchid terrarium, you will need to arrange a layer of small pebbles at the bottom of the container, around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) deep. This provides a drainage area where water can collect.

You should wash your pebbles before use, otherwise you could introduce a disease to the terrarium. Alternatively, you can purchase specialist bagged terrarium gravel.

You can choose to top the gravel with a layer of soil, however this will make your terrarium a bit messier. You can make this decision based on the care needs of the other plants that will be included.

The soil will need to be a specialist product that is well draining, and includes purifying elements such as activated charcoal.

Yellow orchid inside terrarium

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

5. Plant Your Terrarium

The next step is to add your plants. It’s recommended to keep your orchid in its clear pot – which can be disguised using your filler plants, moss, bark, or driftwood. This ensures that airflow to the roots is maintained, and also allows access to the plant for future maintenance.

However, if you would prefer, you can mount your orchid to a piece of cork bark covered with sphagnum moss. This is simple to do by securing both the moss and the orchid to the bark with fishing wire.

When arranging the plants in your terrarium, ensure you leave enough space between them to allow for airflow and future growth.

Remember that the orchid is the focal point of your terrarium, and so the other plants should be subservient in the design.

6. Create The Right Conditions

Add about an inch of water to the bottom of your terrarium and position it in its new home. A terrarium should not be placed in direct sunlight on a windowsill, as the leaves could burn through the glass.

Position it in a fairly bright room where the orchid won’t experience extremes of temperature throughout the day.

Regularly check that the terrarium contains moisture, and when needed add moisture through misting with distilled water, to avoid overwatering and salt buildups. Misting is also the best way to fertilize the orchids, as their feeding needs will be much lower, requiring only a very diluted solution.

Melanie Griffiths
Senior Editor

Melanie has worked in homes and gardens media for two decades. Having previously served as Editor on Period Living magazine, and worked on Homes & Gardens, Gardening Etc, Real Homes, and Homebuilding & Renovating, she is now focusing on her passion for gardening as a Senior Editor at Gardening Know How.

Melanie has spent the last few years transforming her own garden, and is also a keen home grower, having experimented with pretty much every type of vegetable at some point.

In her spare time, she loves to explore inspiring gardens and historic properties.