Making these miniature landscapes is easier than it looks. Follow our step-by-step instructions for the ultimate Christmas ornament.

DIY: Terrarium Ornaments
Linda Lamb Peters
photography by Linda Lamb Peters

Move over, candy canes and reindeer. Here’s a Christmas ornament like you’ve never seen before. It’s alive not just with spirit and sentiment, but with actual living plants. A terrarium ornament makes a unique addition to your tree and a beautiful heartfelt gift for anyone on your holiday list. Best of all, it’s not nearly as hard to put together as it looks. Pick some easy-to-care-for small succulents, find some chopsticks or long tweezers, and you’re good to go. All materials can be found at either a craft store or garden center. So start dreaming of a green Christmas this year. 


  • Glass orbs
  • Black horticultural sand
  • Potting soil (optional)
  • Horticultural charcoal (optional)
  • Small pot to use as a pedestal
  • Small (2″) succulents
  • Airplants
  • Reindeer moss
  • Chop sticks
  • Spoon
  • Wire

Step One: 

Place the glass orb on top of an empty pot so it doesn’t wobble around while you work. Using a small spoon, layer the following in the glass orb: a few scoops of horticultural charcoal (bottom layer), a few spoonfuls of potting soil (middle layer), and finally, a layer of black horticultural sand (top layer). If you’re not planning on keeping your terrariums past Christmas, or you’re not using succulents you’d like to root in the soil, skip the charcoal and potting soil and just use the black sand.

Step Two:  

Start with your largest succulent and snuggle it into the sand with your fingers.


To get a taller succulent to stand up-right before it’s rooted, wire the base of the succulent to a small pebble.

Step Three:  

Use chopsticks to tuck in delicate sedums, reindeer moss, and air plants. Add tiny pebbles, pinecones, or figurines to create a miniature scene.

Step Four:  

Wire your terrariums to branches of your Christmas tree, ideally on a side where they’ll get some natural sunlight. Mist once or twice a week.


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