Have you ever admired a terrarium, but were not sure how to create your own? This section will tell you how to create and maintain your own terrarium, one of the most unique floral arrangements available to home gardeners. It is actually quite easy!Terrariums are wonderful, magical environments. Personalize your terrarium even more by turning it into a Fairy Garden! See our section on Fairy Gardening for more ideas and suggestions.
Terrariums are decorative, attractive, and easy to care for: you just plant and forget. Because terrariums recycle their moisture, they need very little attention. A closed terrarium can often go a month or more between watering. They actually thrive on neglect! So, if you are forgetful about watering or often travel, a terrarium may be the perfect answer for you.
The following instructions show you how easy it is to create and enjoy these miniature eco-systems. Making a terrarium is also a wonderful way for children to learn about nature.Any clear container can be made into a terrarium. The main requirement is that it be watertight. Choose something that is large enough to accommodate the plants you desire and that has a cover, lid, or door to keep the moisture from escaping. If you find a beautiful glass container that you’d like to use, but has no cover, you can cover the top with plastic wrap. Jars, bottles, and aquariums are some of the most common containers used. More elaborate designs made from acrylic plastic, stained glass, and glass block can add an elegant touch to your home decor. Whatever the container, you can bring an easy to care for touch of nature into your home with a terrarium.
Many plants do well in terrariums. It is best to choose plants that will fit the size of the container. Slower growing plants require less trimming and are less likely to take over. If you are willing to spend more time maintaining them, you can experiment with more aggressive plants. They require more frequent trimming, but will allow you to have more variety in your terrarium.
- Enclosed glass container
- Small pebbles or coarse sand
- Activated charcoal
- Sphagnum moss
- Potting soil
- Decorations (optional)
- Place approximately 1/2″ layer of small pebbles or coarse sand in bottom. This allows for drainage of water.
- Add a layer of activated charcoal on top. In a closed terrarium this filters the air and keeps it fresh.
- Add a layer of sphagnum moss on top of the charcoal. This prevents the soil from settling down into the pebbles.
- Fill to proper height with a good draining potting soil. The amount you need depends on the size of your terrarium and the size of your plants.
- Install plants. The number will depend on the size of the plants, and the container. Don’t overplant so there is room to grow. Push the soil aside, place a plant in the depression, and firm the soil around it. Repeat for each plant.
- Water lightly.
- Add any decorations that you want at this time.
- Cover with the lid
Your terrarium will not need a lot of care. Water lightly only after it gets dry once every few weeks, depending on conditions. NEVER OVERWATER! If you have over-watered remove the lid temporarily to allow some moisture to evaporate. Place in a bright area, but not in direct sunlight. When the plants get as big as you want, pinch off the newest growth to encourage bushier growth. Do not fertilize. Over time the soil can be “refreshed” by scraping off the top layer of soil, and adding some fresh potting soil. This will add a small amount of nutrients, as well as freshening up its appearance.
Here is a list of plants suitable for terrariums to get you started:
- Air plants (Tillandsia)
- Baby’s Tears- aggressive grower
- Creeping Fig- aggressive grower
- Neanthebella Palm
- Parlor Palm
- Polka Dot Plant
- Rex Begonia
- Wandering Jew- aggressive grower
Keep in mind that almost any houseplant will work in a terrarium, but try to keep plants with similar light and moisture requirements together. Experiment with whichever ones you like to achieve the desired look and effect.