DIY Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Maidenhair Fern Terrarium

Maidenhair ferns are some of the most delicate plants to add in a terrarium. I’ve tried growing maidenhair ferns outside of a terrarium environment and all I have to say about it is that it’s not easy. They need a consistent level of humidity, the right lighting conditions, and easy draining moist soil. For beginners, this plant is probably a hard one to start off with, but given the right conditions, anyone can successfully grow their own.

bunch of terrariumsmaidenhair leavessilver dollar maidenhair fern details

What You’ll Need:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Horticultural charcoal
  3. Perlite
  4. Aquarium gravel
  5. Plants that enjoy constantly moist soil – Like maidenhair ferns!
  6. Glass jar with a top

Step 1: Aquarium Gravel

Fill the bottom of the jar about 3/4 of an inch with aquarium gravel.

aquarium gravel

Step 2 (Optional): Perlite

Perlite If you happen to have a lot of perlite on hand, feel free to layer it on top of the aquarium gravel. You can use about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of perlite on top of the gravel if you want. Perlite is a porous material that is used to help aerate potting soil. I have a ton of this so it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer if you have too much of it laying around. You can probably imagine what it’s like to live in a small apartment with a giant bag of perlite. I’m basically swimming in it.

Step 3: Horticultural Charcoal

I’ve tried making terrariums without this but having a substantial layer of charcoal certainly helps keep the water palatable for your plants. The charcoal helps keep algae and bacteria at bay so your plants remain healthy.\r\n\r\nhoffman brand horticultural charcoal

Step 4: Potting Soil

Mix about 1 cup of perlite to 2 cups of potting soil. It isn’t an exact science but the perlite helps regulate the moisture in the soil itself. Maidenhair ferns don’t like sitting in soil that is too soggy.

potting soil

Step 5: Add Your Plants

If you are adding a maidenhair fern, try to plant the fern in the middle of the jar. Try to situate the plant in a way where the fronds avoid contact with the sides of the glass jar. If the plant has direct contact with the glass on a constant basis, the condensation from the jar will irritate the fronds causing the edges of the fronds to turn brown.

nerve plant closeupPlants that work well with maidenhair ferns:

  • Nerve Plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii)
  • Parlor Palm (Neanthe bella)
  • Philodendron (there are so many types)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Ruby Red Club Moss (Selaginella erythropus)
  • Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
  • Peacock Plant (Calathea roseopicta)

Why my basil is so happy — Indoor Gardening Basics

I recently posted a picture of my basil plant on instagram. A fellow instagrammer (@hafaabdulcader) asked me about tips on indoor gardening. As a city dweller, it’s one of those fun things virtually anyone with access to a window and some light can do.


1. Neem Oil

This is good stuff. This all natural pesticide comes from the seeds of the neem tree. The Dyna-Gro Neem Oil brand was recommended by other gardeners online and it has great reviews on Amazon itself. It’s not expensive. I think I bought this off of Amazon for about $12.

I can completely understand why it’s so beloved. It’s super easy to use and effective. Indoor gardens are still vulnerable to pests. If you introduce a new plant into your home, you don’t always see issues until its too late. Use neem oil to coat the plant completely. Try to get it in all the nooks and crannies so that you can feel confident you are introducing a healthy plant into your collection. By the way, you can also water your plants with it too.


I wish I had known about this when I first started indoor gardening. I bought a beautiful gardenia and watched it die a horrible death by the wrath of dust mites. Dust mites are airborne and get transported to plants indoors by drafts, open windows, etc. Protect your plants with neem oil. It smells gross but it’s awesome.For more detailed information on neem oil, visit

For more detailed information on neem oil, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.

2. Basic Requirements

You probably can guess this one. Water and sunlight. The key to happiness of most living things in my opinion. Basil needs water — lots of it. This plant is always thirsty. Keep the water coming and it will keep growing — provided it has enough sunlight. Basil also loves sunlight. Right now it is positioned on the north side of my apartment. I believe this plant would do well facing north, east, or south. It probably could do well in a west facing window, but I can’t really be sure since I haven’t tried it myself.

3. Attention

Some plants need more, some need less, but it never hurts to be attentive. Some might say attention could go in the basic requirements section of this post, but I’m calling it out here for emphasis. Without attention, you may not know what you might need to adjust to keep you plant healthy. With basil, when it gets tall like mine, the bottom leaves start to yellow. This is normal and nothing that I worry about. If the leaves start to curl and you see a web-like structure happening around the leaves, you’ll likely need to intervene. I’ve never had any issues with basil. It’s one of my favorites to grow. It doesn’t take much to be happy, it smells great, and it’s oh so useful when cooking!