Christmas Balls: Miniature Herb Terrariums

Christmas Balls: Miniature Herb Terrariums

By Karen Hegre

This is one of my favorite things to make for the hang in my own windows....and to give as gifts!

I gather tiny plants....slips from thyme, rosemary, and other small berries and moss. I can even find tiny,tiny spruce shoots! Any of the small herbs would do. I know a lot of your will be muttering to yourself............"who has time to do something like this"? is worth it and doesn't take that long!

A miniature 'forest' captured in a glass ball, these tiny terrariums are as magical as a ship in a bottle. They look almost unbelievably delicate and are admittedly fragile, but will last for months and months with proper care. They must be planted through the neck of the ball, which usually only measures a half inch across. It may sound impossible, but it is really not that difficult if you are very careful in handling the extremely fragile glass balls. can count on losing about one out of every five balls you make. The first time I made these it was more like I lost about four out of every five!

For those of you who live in states where it never freezes outside, it is much easier to get the plant material. You can just go out to the garden and pull apart some of the small herbs. As far as the rest of us go....try checking the greenhouses for herbs, or, if you are like me and bring in a lot of your herbs for the winter...use them.

Here's what you need.

7 or 9 inch diameter clear glass ornament balls (available at craft stores)

They now make bigger ones which are really nice!

One tablespoon fine pebbles or gravel

Pinch of charcoal (available from aquarium or pet stores, and some nursery's)

One third cup potting soil


long tweezers, pencil, or chopstick

Tiny leaved plants such as partridgeberry, thyme, sweet woodruff, small ferns, etc. (If you can think of any other plants let me know)


Red berries (you can cheat here and use some fake holly berries)

Glue gun and glue, or white craft glue

A yard of one fourth inch wide red satin ribbon.

These will last anywhere from one to six months. Instructions:

Hold the glass ball gently but firmly in one hand, cupping your hand underneath the can rest the ball in a coffee cup. Very slowly and very carefully put the pebbles in the bottom of the ball firs. Take a single pebble and slowly side it into the ball. Do this again and again until you have covered the bottom of the ball with a thin layer of pebbles. ( Believe me......It really doesn't take that long)

Using the funnel, sprinkle one half teaspoon of charcoal over the pebbles. This sweetens the soil and helps prevent mold from growing in the ball.

Pour approximately one third cup potting soil through the funnel to the bottom of the ball. If the soil gets stuck in the mouth of the funnel, carefully use a pencil or chopstick to push it through. Keep adding soil until the ball is half full.

Remove the funnel and use the pencil to spread the soil evenly in the bottom of the ball. The soil should be at least one half inch deep.

Placing the Plants

Start with the small plants. Pinch of five to six leaves with roots attached from the main clump. Ideally what you want is short, stocky, healthy roots with leaves growing as low on the stem as possible. Fold this small plant division together, with the roots toward the bottom, and gently stuff it through the opening. Using the pencil, push the roots into the soil. Depending on the size of glass ball you are using and the size of your plants, try to plant two to three tiny clumps. Complete the planting by putting tiny pieces of moss around the plants. If necessary, pour in a bit more potting soil to cover the roots of the plants. Add 5 or 6 drops of water.

Drop in three to four red berries. Partridge berries, nandina berries or holly berries. The berries will not last as long as the rest of the plants but gives the terrarium a festive air.

Using a glue gun or white glue, spread a thin layer of glue around the neck of the ball. Carefully replace the top of the ball and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Tie a ribbon around the top and hang in a window. The plants will grow quickly if they receive good sunlight or even heat from a furnace vent. I only added an additional drop of water twice to mine, which I had for four months.

These balls also look magical when hung on a large Christmas tree.

About the author

Karen is a master gardener and avid crafter. She and her husband have a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, plus 'Fairy Gardens' where the children can learn about different herbs and hear Karen read a story about the Garden Fairies and Flowers. For more information about Karen and her herb discussion lists please visit here.


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