I have been struggling with a serious terrarium-making obsession.
My first urge to make a terrarium came last year, after reading an article in Real Simple magazine which had a couple of terrariums featured. I am notorious for my black thumb, especially when it comes to indoor plants, so I was a little nervous to make one for fear that I would inevitably kill it. I may be one of the few people to actually kill a bamboo plant, and my large indoor plants and trees have also been known to shrivel. I obviously haven’t mastered the technique of regular watering, which is all the more reason terrariums are right for me.
Last year, I set aside my fears and made my first terrarium, and it’s shockingly still alive! I’ve taken that as a sign to make more, and have documented my recent terrarium-making frenzy below.
My First Terrarium – Still Alive!
When I sought out to make my first terrarium last year, I went to Emery’s Garden (my favorite local nursery) for help with supplies and instructions on the best way to assemble it. Sadly, Emery’s Garden shut down this past fall, otherwise I’d link to their site. They were super helpful and gave me tips on putting it together and helped me choose the right plants. I put one succulent in my first terrarium (against the advice of the nursery employee) and somehow it’s not dead, despite being in the wrong type of soil and getting way more water than it needs. It might look a little wonky because I accidentally lopped off a couple of its limbs while planting it. He has character…
Wee Little One
I was hoping to make an all-succulent terrarium this time, as succulents are another obsession of mine, but that will have to wait until the next round (click here for Succulents Galore!). Enclosed containers are not ideal for succulents since they prefer less water and humidity, and 2 of the containers I had were enclosed. For this project, I chose plants that thrive in high humidity.
washed gravel (optional)
decorative rocks (optional)
- assorted indoor plants
*For succulents or cacti, use cactus mix instead of potting mix and an open container. Make sure that plants in one container share the same water, light, and soil preferences.
Step One – Select a glass container. As I mentioned before, if you are using an enclosed container your plant selection will be limited to those that prefer high humidity.
Select a Glass Container
Step Two – Layer the bottom of your container with horticultural charcoal. This is an important step as it will provide drainage for your terrarium.
Layer Charcoal on the Bottom
Step Three – Layer washed gravel over the charcoal. This is an optional step as the charcoal itself can provide drainage, but the look of the contrasting layers is one of my favorite aspects of terrariums. For me, it’s a must!
Layer Washed Gravel
Step Four – Arrange your plants. If your container is deep enough, you may want to add a layer of soil before placing them. This one was a tight squeeze, so I made sure my plants had a decent chunk of soil attached to their roots and then placed them in. If the opening to your container is small, you can use long tweezers or even chopsticks to put them in their place.
Step Five – Add potting mix, additional decorative rocks, and water the soil just until moistened. Again, my container was pretty small, so I barely needed any soil to fill in the gaps between plants. I had a few larger rocks that I placed around the back for a little more height and interest.
Add Potting Mix
Step Six – Close it up and place in bright, indirect sunlight. If you have a lid for your container, your terrarium will not need as much watering due to condensation. The glass may get a little foggy on a hot summer day so you might want to remove the lid on those occasions to let excessive condensation clear. Open containers will need more frequent watering.
Close it Up!
I assembled these on an evening visit to my parents house for dinner. Why make a mess in my own house if I don’t have to!? If you subtract the time spent chasing after my toddler and nephew, the three terrariums would have probably taken about 20 minutes to assemble altogether.
Their New Home
I have a curved staircase, which I love, but along the staircase wall are several large awkwardly shaped built-in shelves. These have been a pain to decorate, but I finally have the perfect little grouping of terrariums to fill one of the spaces (the others are a work in progress). There are windows surrounding the area, so they will get plenty of indirect sunlight. I’m thinking this grouping needs a small sunburst mirror behind it to finish it off. One thing at a time…