Probably the most important decision you have to make when you’re building a terrarium is the type of container you house it in. How big it is, what shape it is, and how easy it is to work with will open some design doors for you and close others – you won’t be able to fit a large rock into a small bottle without some pretty nifty tricks. We’ll look at some of the most popular and easy-to-find containers that work well, a few of the less common ones, and even some truly unique containers!

Obviously, for the plants to be able to grow in your terrarium, they’re going to need a certain amount of light, so you need something transparent. If you’re building yours as a temporary garden or if you’re working with kids, it might be okay to use a plastic container such as a soda bottle, but many plastics tend to cloud over time after prolonged exposure to sunlight, which both looks nasty and might result in dead plants. For the serious terrarium, choose a container made out of glass, or if you absolutely must use plastic for some reason, choose very carefully.

The next thing you need to consider is size. Most terrariums are fairly small, but they don’t have to be – in fact, you could even consider that a greenhouse is really just a giant terrarium – but since most of us don’t have room for a greenhouse, we better keep things relatively small. An old aquarium can easily be turned a great terrarium, and they’re great for first-timer terrarium builders as they are probably the easiest container to work with. For the slightly more adventurous, glass vases can create some interesting designs that are still easy to work with, as can most large jars and wide-mouthed bottles. Even with a wide mouth, though, a bottle can be very difficult to work with, so keep that in mind when you’re planning (check out the ‘Terrarium Supplies‘ page for a nifty tip on how to turn a plastic spoon into a planting tool).

Those are some fairly traditional ideas for terrarium containers, however. For something that’s really uniquely inspiring, you have to do a couple of things: start thinking outside the bottle, and maybe even more importantly, be patient. Take a trip around to your local garage and yard sales for some really unusual pieces, or you might even want to visit any secondhand or antique stores in your area. Keep an open mind, and eventually you’ll start being able to see everything in terms of its potential as a terrarium container.

If you’re very serious about finding a truly one-of-a-kind piece of glass, try contacting local glassblowers and seeing if they’d be willing to collaborate on a project with you – art students are also a great bet, as they may have practice pieces that they may be willing to part with (every artist loves to make their first sale or commission!)

To demonstrate just how flexible the idea of a terrarium can be, check out these plastic terrarium containers. They’re not intended to be used for terrariums, but they would all be perfect choices, depending on the type of terrarium you want to build. Don’t be fazed by the fact that when you click through, they’ll have different names – some people just don’t see the potential for terrarium containers in everything they look at the way we do here 😉

Square Plastic Terrarium - Open Style

New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Rectangular Acrylic Container with Lid

New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Wide Acrylic Terrarium Container with Lid

New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Tall Narrow Terrarium Container, Open Style

New From: $14.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Classic Plastic Terrarium Container with Lid & Handle

New From: $30.41 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

These plastic terrarium containers are cheap, beautiful, and easy to work with – and best of all, they probably won’t break into a million pieces if an accident occurs! To see the full collection we have available, check out the Terrarium Supplies store!


2 thoughts on “Terrarium Containers

  • May 21, 2016 at 9:50 pm


    I just read your piece on containers, good stuff.
    I am currently brainstorming and have found a bunch of containers that have left me with one question… which plastics are safe to use?
    Do they have to be pba free / food grade?
    I’d rather not find my plants dying after a few wks because the plastic has “leaked” whatever is in plastics into the soil.


    • May 24, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      It’s definitely a good idea to use food grade containers, just to be safe. Most plastics would probably turn out to be OK as long as you’re not growing food, but there are so many different ways of making plastic now that it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

      Here’s what I found about re-using plastic containers:
      Plastics that are safer for food production include polyethylene compounds, or recycling numbers 1, 2 and 4 and polypropylene, or recycling number 5. Dangerous plastics that are not good for growing containers include polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which carries the recycling number 3, polystyrene which carries the recycling number 6 and polycarbonate, which carries the recycling number 7.


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