If you’re looking to make terrarium building a lifelong hobby, you’re probably going to want to look into upping your game with some terrarium tools. These will definitely make terrarium maintenance much easier, your terrarium plants happier, and your life much easier.
Best Option for Beginners: Buy a tool kit
By far the most budget friendly option for getting a set of tools from scratch is to buy a premade tool kit. Most of them come as a set of 12-15 tools that have pretty much all the essential tools you need to get started.
If you do the math, you’re paying roughly $1-2 per tool rather than $5-10 per tool had you bought them individually. That’s definitely a great value and is my best recommendation for anyone looking to just get started, even if you don’t end up using some of the tools that come in the kit.
If anything, it’s a great way to set a baseline to dip your toes in the water and get a better feel for what tools you specifically might have a need for.
The only downside is I haven’t seen any terrarium-specific tool kits available online. Most are designed for handling houseplants or succulents. Because of this, you may find that some of the tools are a little too short or a little too small for your purposes and may not be appropriate for every situation you may encounter. That’s where you would look into buying individual tools separately.
The most important tool in your tool kit is going to be your tweezers. You’re going to be using these all the time to introduce new plants to a terrarium, hold them in place while pruning, and adjusting them to get your terrarium design just right.
These are a must have if you’re ever hoping to build a terrarium with a small opening that you can’t fit your hand through. Even if you can work directly with your hands, tweezers still come in handy because of the higher dexterity and precision they allow you to achieve.
Chopsticks work as well if you want to work on a tight budget, but high quality tweezers will give you a much easier time. They’re also going to work much better if you want to do an inside wipe-down of your terrarium with a piece of paper towel.
Speaking of scissors, some long scissors are definitely going to be required sometime in the future of your terrarium.
It’s hard to predict exactly how large some of your plants will grow. Even when intentionally selecting small plants, you may still find them growing a little too large for comfort and start touching the walls or crowding out some of the other plants.
Because of this, some pruning will be necessary to keep your plants to a manageable size. Some long scissors will allow you to reach into any small opening and trim your plants with precision. A curved set of scissors will make it a little easier on you ergonomically and will help you reach into the corners of your container with ease.
Buy your scissors here. If you don’t have tweezers yet, check out this set of tweezers and scissors. You might also want some tweezers to pick out any shavings you trimmed off your plants, especially if you can’t easily reach them with your hands.
One of the more annoying things about watering your plants without proper tools is that it’s difficult to get an even distribution of water in your terrarium. This can cause problems like mold growth or root rot if too much water gets trapped in one of your plants or all the water gets localized to one area of the terrarium.
There’s also a chance you might push your plants around with too much water pressure if you’re not careful.
That’s where the spray bottle comes in. As you can probably imagine, spraying/misting the water is going to more evenly distribute water when it comes time to add water to your terrarium. A spray bottle usually comes with most tool kits you can find on Amazon and will probably work just fine for anyone just getting started.
If you have some extra cash to spare or need a replacement, it may be worthwhile to buy a spray bottle designed for watering plants. These will be higher quality, give you a better mist, give your wrists/arms/shoulders a break, and will last you longer than the standard cheap plastic sprayers.
You can buy your spray bottle here.
A fork will be super helpful for moving rocks and soil around in your terrarium. You could probably achieve the same effect with tweezers, but the fork/spoon is going to shine when it comes to moving small piles of rocks or dirt around.
A spoon is also going to help when it comes time to replant anything or if you want to dig a hole to place new plants in a terrarium.
You can probably get away with using your everyday fork or spoon for this, but if you don’t happen to have a long fork/spoon, it may be worthwhile to just spend a few bucks and buy some. You can buy a long fork here and a long spoon here.
A funnel is pretty self explanatory. You will probably need one if you don’t want to make a mess while adding soil or rocks to your terrarium. Even just a piece of paper folded into a funnel will do.
Preferably, you would want one with a longer neck so you can control exactly where you want to add soil/rocks to your terrarium rather than having it all end up in a small mound in the center. You can buy a really cheap one here.
A small dedicated towel will be handy to have ready when you need to wipe down excess condensation in your terrarium to prevent over watering. Paper towels will work as well, but I just prefer sticking to something that’s reusable.
There are a bunch of options on amazon and all of them will do fine. Most come in sets of two or more, so you can buy a set and use one for your terrarium and the other for personal use.
In my experience working with terrariums, no matter how careful you are, you’re always going to make at least some sort of mess handling your plants. Especially if you have to introduce new plants or replant old ones.
That’s why I recommend doing all your work on a repotting mat if possible. Most mats are waterproof, stain-proof, and easy to fold and tuck away.
This mat will keep the mess contained in one 30×30 inch section to make cleaning up a breeze. Now you won’t have to worry about being overly cautious to minimize the chaos. Feel free to go wild with your terrarium.
If you’ve done any research on terrariums, you’ve probably heard about the false bottom, the drainage layer that goes beneath the soil/substrate. This layer allows water to drain out of the soil to later evaporate and recondense on the container walls.
What you want to avoid with a false bottom is your plant roots reaching into this layer. This will cause issues with root rot if your plant roots reach into stagnant water.
To prevent this from happening, you need to include a mesh separation layer to go between the false bottom and the substrate. The exact material doesn’t matter too much, so long as it won’t degrade over time due to exposure to water. So any synthetic material that has holes large enough for water to pass through will be fine.
I recommend buying a decent square footage of mesh screens and cutting out pieces as needed. If you ever build terrariums in the future, you are going to have a decent supply readily available without having to worry about buying more.
You can buy this one here. You get 465 square foot of mesh for just a few bucks. That’s pretty much enough to last you a lifetime of terrarium building.