By Chris Kennedy
Terrariums have come a long way in the age of Pinterest. Plants have become a vital design element for decorating and, with a little support, it’s not just gardeners who grow anymore.
You can make yours modern, traditional or anywhere in between by switching up your choice in vessels and the type and amount of plants you use.
1. CHOOSE A TERRARIUM CONTAINER
You can really use anything for a terrarium, as long as it’s glass and it has a lid or
Look for a jar or container with a wide mouth. While it is possible to use something with a small opening, it’s much easier to add plants if your container has a wide mouth. You don’t want your plants touching the sides of your jar, so the wider the bowl the more plants and soil you’ll be able to fit.
Plus, a large container will allow you to mix up the sizes and varieties of plants and give you the room to add decorative elements.
2. CHOOSE YOUR PLANTS
When considering terrarium plants, look for varieties that like low to medium light.
Try to get a mix of sizes, leaf textures and leaf colors. Make sure they’re small enough to fit in your terrarium, preferably without touching the sides.
For a closed terrarium choose plants that enjoy a humid environment. With an open terrarium you have more options to work with.
3. ADD DRAINAGE LAYERS
Your terrarium will not have drainage holes in the bottom, so you’ll want to create a place for extra water to go that keeps it away from plant roots.
1. Start with a layer of horticultural charcoal.
2. Next, add a 2” or more layer of stones in the bottom (you have some flexibility with this if your container is shallow).
3. Add a layer of sphagnum or Spanish moss. (Do not use reindeer moss sold as a soil dressing) Adding moss between stones and soil layer prevents roots from getting soaked and potentially rotting.
4. Add a couple inches or more of sterile potting mix. Add slowly, making sure to you leave enough room for your plants to fit with the top on
5. PLANT IT UP
Use a large spoon or your fingers to dig a hole in the potting mix, then place your plant in the hole and gently pat the soil around it.
If your terrarium has a narrow neck that you can’t fit your hand into, you can use chopsticks, tongs or long tweezers to place your plants and pat them in. You want to make sure there are no air pockets between the roots of your terrarium plants and the soil.
6. TOO MUCH WORK? BUY YOUR TERRARIUM.
If this all sounds like a little bit too much work, you’re in luck. Kennedy’s greenhouse designer loves to do the dirty work and regularly plants up terrariums of all sizes and styles.
Stop in to see her work!
7. TAKING CARE OF YOUR TERRARIUM
Whether you buy a pre-made terrarium or create your own, you’ll want to check it every couple of weeks to see if it needs water.
If your terrarium is closed, take off the top at least once a month to air it out. If you see lots of condensation or have added too much water (e.g. you can see it in the rocks or pebbles at the bottom) keep the lid off until some of the excess moisture evaporates.
A completely enclosed terrarium requires little or no watering, and when it doubt, err on the side of less water. If and when you do water, add slowly and in small amounts with a dropper or spray bottle, always allowing the container to stay open until the leaves dry.
Open and closed terrariums thrive in high light, but shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
Pull off any leaves that show signs of yellowing or damage and prune plants if they grow too large. Last, don’t fertilize your terrarium because you don’t want to encourage growth.
Have questions on how to build or care for your terrarium? We’re always here to help.
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Watch for more blogs and resources on houseplants, seasonal tips and to do lists and so much more. And feel free to reach out to us in store or by phone at (781) 545-1266. We live for this stuff!