This week’s houseplant star is actually several different plants living together under glass. Highly personal and creative, a terrarium is a work of living art that can add much to your home décor – or be a terrific gift!
Simply put, a terrarium is a container, typically made of glass, that is fully or partially enclosed and filled with small plants. A fully enclosed terrarium will essentially create an ecosystem that’s self-sustaining, but some plants (like succulents) require a container that’s at least partially open to allow for airflow.
For your terrarium, you will need:
- A container to hold your plants. This can be one specifically designed for terrarium use, but you can also use any clear glass container with a wide mouth, from a goldfish bowl to a cookie jar.
- Small plants that don’t grow too fast. African violets, pothos, small ferns, lucky bamboo, club moss and creeping figs are all good choices. And, of course, succulents, but again we’d suggest not fully sealing the container if you do.
- Some gravel or crushed stone
- Sheet moss and potting mix
- (Optional) some decorations.
Putting Together Your Terrarium
Terrariums don’t have drainage holes, so you’ll want to build up your terrarium to create a drainage layer that keeps water away from the plants’ roots. That’s where your gravel or crushed stone comes in, to give water a place to go. Then you’ll want to use a little moss to create a layer between the stone and your potting soil. After that, add about 2 inches of damp potting soil, then the plants.
Think about what you want the finished product to look like. Arrange your taller and shorter plants so they are visually interesting. Contrast colors and leaf shapes to make them stand out – much like you do for your outside garden beds!
When you take your plants out of their containers, tease out any roots that have become rootbound. You also might want to trim the roots a bit (this retards the growth of the plant, but be careful not to cut too much back). Create holes for each plant and place the plants in the terrarium, gently patting the soil down to keep them secure and eliminate any air pockets.
Once your plants are in, you can add fun decorations to your terrarium to truly make it your own.