How to create a simple DIY terrarium
Sat, Oct 12 2013 at 3:44 PM
Photos: Anna Norris
Some of us just aren't gardeners. Or maybe we'd like to be, but we don't have the time or space. Terrariums are a perfect solution — miniature greenspaces on-the-go. You can choose to use soil, or keep it simple with sand and succulents.
1. The list
First, you'll want to determine what our container will be — ideally, something that's clear glass and has an opening large enough for you to stick your hand through (unless you actually want to go ship-in-a-bottle with this). I used a mason jar because I had one handy; though it's a bit difficult, it has the added benefit of a cap for enclosure. For some creative container ideas, check out this BuzzFeed post.
For a succulent terrarium, the list is simple: river rocks, sand and succulent plants. These are all available at any local store that has a gardening center.
The list is a bit longer for terrariums that require soil. You'll want to buy:
River rocks for effective water drainage
Activated charcoal (this is a must!)
Potted plant soil
Any small indoor plant that strikes your fancy (though some are better for terrariums than others)
The activated charcoal is essential in reducing mold growth within the terrarium, as they tend to be quite humid when they're significantly enclosed. I had trouble finding charcoal at my local hardware store that had a garden center and ended up finding it in an unexpected place: my local pet store (activated charcoal is used in aquariums). The store should offer a variety of sizes to choose from so you won't end up buying more than you'll need.
2. The base
The river rocks are the first component of both terrariums. They will filter the water through the bottom and prevent the soil and sand from becoming too saturated. Plus, they add a pop of color, which looks especially good in the succulent terrarium.
For the succulent terrarium, simply pour in the sand to cover the top of the rocks, filling the container up by about a third.
Otherwise, pour an inch of the activated charcoal, pack it in for a sturdy base, and then layer the soil on top of that, filling your container up by about a third.
3. The plants
Very carefully remove the plants from their original containers.
For a succulent terrarium, simply make room for them in the sand and cover the base of the plants with more sand.
For small soil-based terrariums, simply cut off a runner of your plant and place it in your terrarium, pressing the base of the plant with soil to ensure its roots are fully submerged.
Variegated spider fern runners (the dual-toned plant in the container above) are especially good for terrariums. I bought one to hang and just cut one of the small clusters of leaves off of the main plant.
4. The final step
Finally, to maintain a balance in moisture, cut off bits of sheet moss and press them firmly at the base of the plants in your soil-based terrarium.
Maintenance is fairly easy, and both terrariums should fare well in indirect light indoors. Of course, the amount of light and watering you'll need depends on exactly which plants you use, so be sure to talk with an associate in your local garden center or do your research online. I think these projects are especially rewarding for people who lack green thumbs. More than just a potted plant you can forget about, terrariums require hard work and each one ends up looking truly unique.
We want to see your terrariums! Post a photo in our comment section, and feel free to share tips.
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