12 April 2013

Making a Terrarium - Gardening For the Commitment Phobe

Have you considered making a terrarium but are afraid of the long list of supplies and the daunting responsibility of having to maintain a world of which you personally created? I understand - it sounds like quite a commitment. And commitments can be hard to make. But trust me when I say that terrariums really aren't the complicated ecosystems you might imagine and actually require very little attention. 
how to make a terrarium

Terrariums have quite a few attributes going for them as an alternative source to houseplants. They're ideal for small living spaces and are virtually maintenance free. They also fit nicely into busy schedules, provide great visual interest in a room, and are the perfect garden platform for the novice. Terrariums allow you to go on vacation without the worry of what you'll find when your return and also make wonderful housewarming gifts.

So, have I convinced you yet of the advantages of making a terrarium? Are you ready to make one of your very own? Well, creating one requires only a small list of supplies. 

Here's what you'll need:
  • Clear glass container(s) - open for low humidity plants or with a lid for high humidity plants
  • Pea gravel
  • Activated charcoal to keep the environment purified and odor-free {my local nursery gave me a handful when I purchased my plants; but you can also find it at your local pet store or wherever fish supplies are sold}
  • Weed barrier or mesh screen cut to appropriate size
  • Potting soil
  • Plant(s) of your choice
  • Wooden spoon or other long handled device to help pack down soil
Let me demonstrate how I created mine. For me, I wanted to make a grouping, so I chose glassware in contrasting shapes to compliment one another. Each very different, but as a grouping, they balance nicely.
glass terrarium containers
Once you have gathered your containers, it's time to select your plants. As you're considering your options, keep in mind the size and shape of your containers.  Also, choose plants that have the same growing needs, such as humidity and light, and consider their growth rates. Slow growers are ideal choices for a container and reduce the need for frequent pruning.
plants for a terrarium
(These plants all like the same environmental conditions such as humidity and light.)
terrarium glass
Before you begin, clean your container from any debris and dry well. Wet glass will make a mess when you begin to layer your terrarium.
making a terrarium
Add pea gravel to a depth of 1"- 4" depending on the size of your container. You want visual balance once it is all put together. A good rule of thumb is that the sum of the layers should equal approximately one third the depth of the vessel once it is assembled.
creating a terrarium
Next, add a thin layer of charcoal to cover {I really only needed about a quarter of this amount}, then lay your pre-cut barrier on top. The barrier will keep your gravel clean by preventing the soil from seeping down.
chosing plants for a terrarium
planting a terrarium
Now you're ready to plant! As you remove your plant(s) from their pots, gently tease the roots apart while removing any loose soil. If you are adding more than one, start with the largest plant then work the smaller plants around it. Last, add enough soil to your container to cover the roots.

When you're finished planting, water gently while at the same time rinsing away soil particles from the interior of the glass. Be sure to keep the water to a minimal. The amount of water should not exceed the level of the gravel. Mine only reached one-third the depth of the gravel.

And here's my end result!
plant terrarium
They're like little works of art!

I love how they turned out! And maintaining your terrarium is as easy as making them. For the first week, keep in a shaded spot while the plants acclimate. After that, place in an area of exposure adequate for the plants you have chosen. Direct sunlight is not recommended for closed terrariums as it will cause too much heat to be trapped inside.

Also, there should never be more than 25% condensation held within a closed terrarium. If you see more than ocassional clouding of the glass, remove the lid, dry the walls, and allow the interior to dry out. You may have to repeat this several times. 

Closed terrariums should never need watering. An open terrarium will need to be watered as needed. 

You do not want to encourage growth, so do not fertilize your terrarium! However, the plants will grow to some degree. Once they become too large, simply pinch them back as needed and remove any dead debris to keep disease at bay.

Now sit back and enjoy! Oh, and if you're looking for an interesting way to display your succulents, check out my post planting succulents in salvaged containers

                A Stroll Through Life
                Knock Off Decor



  1. I love terrariums and do plan on making at least one.

  2. These are so pretty, I love this idea. Your tutorial is wonderful too. I have a couple of vases and jars, so I really need to try this. I would love if you would like up to my Inspire Me Tuesday party that is ongoing. - - -http://www.astrollthrulife.net/2013/04/160th-inspire-me-tuesday.html

    I think this is such an inspiring post and one everyone can try. Hugs, Marty

  3. marty, thank you for the kind words & the invitation to your lovely linky party! can't wait to join in!


Hello lovely reader! Please leave your thoughts and comments for me to ponder - I truly love reading each + every one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover