Tips 'n Tricks — November 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

How To Create Your Own Terrarium

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©istockphoto/sf_foodphoto

©istockphoto/sf_foodphoto

Children of the 70s most likely grew up with terrariums and babies of the 80s probably remember them too. Tiny little ecosystems housing plants, rocks, and other little treasures, all tucked away in a glass bowl. As with all great things, they’re making a comeback and you don’t want to miss out. Read on for a how-to guide on creating your own terrarium.

Supplies Needed
Glass container of your choosing
Potting soil
Activated charcoal
Gloves
Moss
Plants
Small trowel

A Word on Plants
Choosing plants for your terrarium is no small undertaking. You need to consider things such as lifespan, maintenance, suitability for the climate you’re creating, ability to adapt, and so on. Some great options include variegated spider ferns, golden clubmoss, aquamarine, miniature African violets, Irish or Scottish moss, and some herbs. This is by no means an exhaustive list so be sure to do a little reading on the subject or head to your local nursery where knowledgeable possessors of green thumbs will be able to point you in the right direction.

Lay Your Foundation
First, you need to create a base for the terrarium. Without a proper foundation, you’re not going to have much to build on. Lay a 2 inch layer of activated charcoal on the bottom of your container and then top with a mixture of activated charcoal and soil. Ideally, you want this second layer to fill 1/4 to 1/3 of the container.

Start Planting
Now that you’ve created a solid base, it’s time to arrange your plants. If they came in individual containers, gently remove them. Arrange each plant on the soil, as you see fit. Set them up haphazardly, follow a careful plan… in the end, you’re the master of your own terrarium so it’s up to you! Once you’ve made your vision a reality, take some soil and use it to surround the plants. You want to make sure that the roots are well covered and that there aren’t any air pockets, so gently pat things down as you go. Next, cover the soil with moss. It’s best to use gloves for this part.

Set a Theme (Or Don’t)
One of the best parts about terrariums is the freedom you have to get creative. You can leave the plants as is or add a few touches that will take your tiny ecosystem to the next level. There’s a whole market out there for terrarium fans and chances are, if you can dream it, someone can help you achieve it. Whether you want to create a miniature village (complete with water features), a fairy garden, a prehistoric setup complete with dinosaurs, or are in the mood to replicate your last safari trip, the only limit is your imagination. Well, that and the relatively cramped quarters you’re working with. Even simple additions like stones, corks from special bottles, and other tiny ornaments can make a huge difference. The beauty is that if you grow tired of your current decor, it only takes a few quick adjustments to do a complete overhaul.

Maintain
As is the case with most plants, you’ll need to take a few simple steps to ensure your terrarium’s survival. Place the container in a spot that receives indirect sunlight and check soil regularly to see if it needs to be watered. The frequency of watering will depend on the types of plants that you’ve chosen. Other than the occasional drink, your terrarium isn’t going to need much else in the way of maintenance. You may want to trim back some of the plants, should they begin to outgrow their home or you may like the way it looks and choose to keep things as is. Enjoy experimenting and be forewarned: terrariums can be addictive. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Good thing they make such great gifts.

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