Once an unused wedding gift, a few plants and some decorative moss turned this hurricane vase into an eye-catching garden. You can find large vases like this at every home décor store. The key to its finished look is layering. You can see everything—from the pebbles in the bottom to the palm tree growing out of the top. Speaking of the top, this terrarium isn’t enclosed, which gives you greater freedom to use taller plant material.


Why put a candle in this hurricane vase when you can grow a beautiful garden?


Main Materials

  • Activated filter carbon
  • Rinsed pea gravel
  • Hurricane vase
  • Preserved reindeer moss
  • Parlor palm
  • Peperomia plant (not pictured)
  • Podophyllum, arrowhead plant (not pictured)

This project calls for light-colored pea gravel for the bottom of the container, even though you can see it. That will create a more interesting layered look, whereas using dark colored stones would make the bottom of the container appear “heavy,” with the soil and stones creating a dark mass in the bottom.


Potting Soil

Use houseplant potting soil for this project.

Hurricane Terrarium Step by Step

Add gravel

Layer 1 to 1½ inches of gravel in the bottom of the vase.


Pour in carbon

Pour in activated filter carbon to a depth of 1 /2 inch.


Add potting soil

Add 2 inches of potting soil to the container.


Place the plants

Place the plants. I split off a smaller chunk of the parlor palm so that it was lighter and more airy in feel. Just plunking the whole palm in the vase looked messy and top-heavy because the palm wasn’t tall enough so that the entire top floated above the vase. Once in place, the bottom of the palm looked naked. There was a lot of space between the stems and the leaves, but, again, not enough space so that all of the leaves were above the vase rim.


Adding two shorter plants of contrasting colors and textures around the base of the palm filled in the vase space and created more interest. This is the same layering technique used in full-sized garden design, only the layers of a full-sized garden are trees (tallest), shrubs and large perennials (middle layer), and annual flowers, groundcovers, small perennials, and bulbs (shortest layer).
Use a long-handled spoon to add soil around the plants so that their roots are entirely covered.

Add decorative moss

Add decorative moss around the plants using the terrarium tweezers. Once all of the plants are planted, it’s hard to reach all the way into the bottom of the vase. Water the container until you can just see water trickling in between the pebbles at the bottom of the vase.


Care and Maintenance

This terrarium will dry out faster than a fully enclosed terrarium but more slowly than a regular houseplant. You can see, through the glass, when the soil has started to dry out. It will be lighter in color. That’s when it’s time to water.