Terrariums are a great way to bring a little piece of the outdoors into your home, and have been gaining popularity in the last couple years. The possibilities for your terrarium are limited only by your imagination. By playing with different containers, plants, and accessories, you can easily create a one of a kind miniature garden that reflects your personality.
It's easy to create your own terrarium, and takes less than an hour. The first step is to select your container. Glass containers are the most popular, but you can also use other materials like soda bottles or plastic jars. Try using a fish bowl, wine glass, vase, aquarium, jelly jar, or canning jar. The jar can be open or closed, it's up to you. Thoroughly wash the container to keep your little ecosystem healthy.
The next step is to choose your plants. Look for plants that stay small and don't require a lot of sunlight. If you're a terrarium newbie, start with cheap, easy to care for plants. There's nothing worse than watching your beautiful new terrarium wither up and die! Ferns, mosses, succulents, and African violets make great terrarium plants. For a closed terrarium, look for plants that can tolerate high humidity. Tropical plants are great for this. Also, make sure all your plants require similar growing conditions. Try to vary the color, shape, and size of the plants you choose to give your arrangement more visual appeal. (To learn more about terrarium plants, see What to Plant in a Terrarium)
Now that you have your plants picked out, it's time to start putting together the terrarium! Start by putting a 1 inch layer of stones or gravel in the bottom of your container. You can find gravel at an aquarium store, or just collect some from outside. Look for stones 1/4 inch or smaller. The stones help create drainage so your plants aren't sitting in water. It's a good idea to mix in a handful of activated charcoal with your stones to keep fungus and mold from growing as well. You can find activated charcoal at your local aquarium store as well.
On top of your stones, put a 1 inch layer of sphagnum moss. The moss creates a dense mesh that keeps soil from falling down into the layer of rocks.
Now you're ready for the fun part. Add a layer of soil over the moss. Use at least 2 inches of soil to give your plants something to root into. Potting soil works great for most plants, but if you're planting succulents or cacti you'll want to use cactus soil instead. Remove your plants from their pots and arrange them in the soil. A good way to do that is to start with the largest plant and arrange the smaller ones around that one. Once your plants are in place, add more potting soil and gently pat it down to keep everything in place.
You can add pebbles, sand, or small decorations on top of the soil to create more interest. A layer of moss also looks great.
Lightly water the soil, but do not over water. Closed terrariums require very little water. Open terrariums need slightly more. Keep an eye on your terrarium for the next couple weeks to monitor it's water levels. If water starts condensing on the sides of the glass, open the lid and let some water evaporate out.
Place your terrarium in indirect sunlight in a temperature controlled environment. You don't want direct sunlight because the glass can magnify the light and cook your plants.
That's all there is to it! Enjoy your new terrarium!
Need some ideas for your next terrarium? Check out some great creative terrarium containers!