What Else Can You Use in a Terrarium? Unique Ideas to Elevate Your Design

Terrariums are great for anyone who loves plants. They can add a unique touch to any room and you get the extra benefit of watching something incredibly small grow before your eyes. Here are some ideas for what you can put in your terrarium besides plants.
A person holding a terrarium.

Nobody can dispute the fact that plants make beautiful terrariums. However, there are so many ways of firing your terrarium to life that go beyond plants. Whether you want to create an idyllic beach scene or go full throttle and make an enchanted forest, there are many ways to achieve your dreams. All you have to do is keep an open mind and explore as many ideas as possible.

So, what can you put in your terrarium besides plants? The ideas are endless: The ideas are endless, but you should consider adding shells to create a tropical or beachy theme, twigs or wooden logs if you want to achieve a forest theme, slate pieces to set a mountainous or ancient theme, small figurines to add a touch of fantasy, stones, and pebbles that are not just visually pleasing but also aid in drainage, moss tendrils for extra greenery, and even fairy lights. You can also opt for moss, toys, figurines, resin, or sand.

This blog post discusses unique ideas that you can use to adorn your terrarium to improve its aesthetic appeal.

1. Crystals, Gemstones, and Minerals

Let us start with the most glamorous addition you can add to your terrarium – crystals, gemstones, and minerals.

Whether it is the shining amethyst and quartz or rose quartz crystal clusters in shades of lavender, these additions will add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your terrarium. These items are great at turning your terrarium into a fantasy wonderland you will love.

Some people believe that certain types of stones possess healing powers, so you can use them as a means to bring positive energy and vibes into your home.

Just check out online stores such as Amazon or Etsy, and you will find many different colors and shapes. Ensure you pick something that will make your terrarium stand out and shine.

2. Ropes and Threads

Ropes and threads can be a wonderful addition to your terrarium. You can choose from different types of ropes depending on what you want to achieve.

For instance, you can choose to add a brown braided rope to your terrarium if you want to create a forest-like environment. This will give the illusion of a tree branch or vine climbing up your terrarium walls and make it look more realistic.

On the other hand, if you want to incorporate a beachy theme into your terrarium, choose thin white ropes with shells hanging off them, as they will create an idyllic setting that you can look at in awe.

A combination of red and blue ropes can create a wonderful sea theme.

Three small terarium.
Ropes and threads can be a wonderful addition to your terrarium.

The thickness of the rope will mostly depend on how much space you have in your terrarium. If your terrarium is smaller, go with a 1/8 or 1/4-inch rope. However, consider using a 1/2-inch rope if you want to set the primary accent on it.

3. Model Trees and Animals

If you have a big terrarium, why not adorn it with small model trees and animals? You can purchase these online or make your own if you feel crafty. These additions will bring the terrarium to life, making it look like a mini world.

When it comes to model animals, there are so many options you can choose from, such as dragons and dinosaurs for a fantasy theme or zebras and elephants for safari vibes. You can even choose smaller insects if you wish.

Miniature trees will create an illusion of a unique and surreal forest. To set the vibe, you can choose between various types of trees, such as bonsai, palm trees, or conifers.

4. Shells

Various types of seashells perform a wonderful job when it comes to decorating a terrarium. Many prefer using seashells to create a tropical or beachy theme in the terrarium.

Feel free to choose from urchins or sea fans, clams, moon shells, and starfish. Other great shells for a terrarium that you should consider include conch, fig shells, sand dollars, limpet shells, and nautilus.

You can go for more vibrant colored shells or pick neutral-tone shells, depending on your preference.

Just make sure you don’t pick shells with open cracks. They may be prone to bacteria and water damage, especially in a humid environment such as that of a terrarium.

A open terrarium with shells.
Many prefer using seashells to create a tropical or beachy theme in the terrarium.

You can make shells the main accent of your terrarium by picking one large shell to create a specific theme and then surrounding it with several small shells. You can even arrange them uniquely to form a specific shape.

5. Fairy Lights and Lanterns

Another unique addition that can give your terrarium a magical vibe is fairy lights or lanterns.

You can find them in local stores or online, and they come in many colors and shapes. You will definitely be able to find something that suits your needs.

Furthermore, there are even solar-powered fairy lights for those who don’t want to bother with wires.

These small pieces of art can enhance the ambiance of your terrarium and make it look more romantic and dreamier. Place them around the walls or topsoil, and you will have a breathtaking view.

6. Logs or Twigs

Logs and twigs are common in plant terrariums since they help paint the picture of a magnificent mini forest with fallen trees. Wood and logs come in various shapes, which can add a lot of character to your terrarium.

You can purchase unique logs and twigs or gather your own from the wild. If you are gathering your own logs and twigs from the wilderness. Check them thoroughly for bugs that may turn your terrarium into their home.

Consider soaking the wood logs and twigs in warm water for approximately 30 minutes or baking them for about 45 minutes before use. The primary objective here is to kill any pests residing in the logs. Remember to maintain your terrarium to keep the longs looking their best all year round.

7. Resin

Resin is a type of polymer with a blueish, transparent color. You can think of it as a powerful version of marble.

It is commonly used to create an artificial water body in relatively small crafts. This can be an excellent option if you want to create a lakeside view or some scenic island with a relatively nice beach.

You can check Pinterest for various ideas on incorporating resin into your terrarium. Resin is also relatively cheap and can be found in most craft stores.

8. Moss

Moss is great for creating a lush, green forest look in a terrarium. It’s also low maintenance and aesthetically pleasing. You can buy moss for terrariums from most garden centers or gather your own from the wild.

If you decide to collect it on your own, be sure to harvest moss growing on rocks and logs rather than the ground since it will contain fewer bugs.

A terrarium
Moss is great for creating a lush, green forest look in a terrarium.

Moss can also be used to cover the topsoil of your terrarium, which will give it a natural, finished look. You can use cotton thread or fishing line to weave and attach moss to various decorations in the terrarium, such as logs or branches.

9. Glitter

Glitter is another option if you love a sparkly look in your terrarium. You can use colored glitter to bring in some vibrancy or go for silver and gold if you prefer the more subtle, glam look.

You can sprinkle it on the topsoil of your terrarium or use it to make a statement by creating specific shapes, such as stars and hearts. Be sure not to overuse glitter since too much can be overwhelming.

Adding decorations to your terrarium is a great way to personalize it and give it a unique touch that reflects your personality and style. However, do not overdo the decorations since they can easily become the focus of attention rather than the plants themselves.

10. Charcoal/ Rock False Bottom

A false bottom is basically a drainage layer at the bottom of your terrarium that allows excess water to drain away from the soil. Creating a terrarium without a false bottom can lead to root rot issues and eventually kill your plants.

The best option for creating a false bottom is to use charcoal, which will filter any impurities and help keep the soil clean, or rocks.

A close round terrarium with succulent.
Creating a terrarium without a false bottom can lead to root rot issues and eventually kill your plants.

If you are using charcoal, purchase aquarium-grade charcoal that has not been treated with chemicals. This can usually be found in pet stores or garden centers.

If you are using rocks, make sure they are free of any dirt or debris and that their size is small enough to allow water drainage.

11. Salt

Lastly, you can also add salt to your terrarium to create artificial snow. In fact, this is the best way to create a winter-themed terrarium.

To accomplish this, put some masking tape or paper over the area you want to snow and start sprinkling salt until you achieve what you want.

A person spraying water to a Open Terrarium.
You can also add salt to your terrarium to create artificial snow.


A terrarium provides a great way to bring a bit of nature indoors. With the right materials and decorations, you can create a unique and beautiful environment that will be a pleasure to look at for many years.

Use the appropriate materials for terrariums, such as wood, resin, moss, glitter, and charcoal/rocks for your false bottom layer.

Every material plays an important role in your terrarium’s success, so choose wisely. Good luck with creating your own unique terrarium!

Last update on 2023-06-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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