For houseplant lovers, one of the most fun projects you can do is create a little miniature “garden under glass,” better known as a terrarium. We’ll be holding a terrarium workshop later this month, but I wanted to give you a preview of what goes into creating this beautiful item that can add so much to your 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.
These mini-gardens can be quite creative, featuring decorations as well as plants.
What Do You Need for a Terrarium?
First off, you need a container to hold your plants. There are specifically designed containers for terrariums, but you can also use any clear glass container with a wide mouth, from a goldfish bowl to a cookie jar. You’ll also need to select small plants that don’t grow too fast to populate your terrarium. 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.
You’ll also want some gravel or crushed stone, a little sheet moss, potting mix and – to make it really fancy – 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.
Add damp potting soil next – at least two inches. You don’t want to put too much soil in, however, because you need to leave room for your plants to grow without touching the top of a closed terrarium.
Now the fun part – start planting. 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.
Terrarium building is even more fun when you get to do it with other plant enthusiasts. That’s why we’ve scheduled a terrarium workshop for Saturday, Feb. 19. You’ll get all the materials you need to create your terrarium, plus complimentary coffee, tea or wine. Learn more about it here.