Now that winter is in full swing, it’s hard to imagine spring bursting from the cold, barren ground in a few months. But until then, why not create a terrarium to bring a little life and greenery inside? A homemade terrarium is an easy and inexpensive project you can do by yourself or with your kids in an afternoon. The bowl of year-around greenery, will instantly brighten a room and make the browns and whites outside seem a little less daunting.
According to a book published in 1842 called “On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases,” terrariums reached their peak of popularity in the mid 1800s. However, they’ve recently made a comeback with more terrariums showing up in homes and for sale at high-end boutiques.
Terrariums are great for talking with kids of all ages about the importances of having plants and different types of ecosystems. Young children will enjoy selecting plants and creatures like dinosaurs or turtles to add to the terrarium. Older children may be interested in learning about how a terrarium can use incoming sunlight and condensation to keep itself watered.
You can make your miniature gardens in any shape or size, and it can be as simple or complicated as you’d like. The important thing is to have fun.
A clear container, preferably glass
Gravel or small rocks
Small plants of the same variety (think succulents or small ferns)
Activated charcoal (optional)
Step one: Find and select a container
The best terrarium containers are glass, but if you’re worried about small hands knocking it over, you can use clear plastic. Just make sure it has a large enough opening to fit the plants you want to use.
Step two: Create a drainage system
Because your glass bowl will not have water holes like a traditional gardening pot, you’ll need to use gravel or stone to create a drainage system. Using small stones, create a layer along the bottom of your bowl. Then, add a thin layer of moss. You can also include an additional layer of activated charcoal if you’re worried about odors.
Step three: Add soil
How much soil? That will be determined by how big the root balls of your plants are, but most likely you’ll need 2 inches.
Step four: Landscape
Select your greenery, keeping in mind that it’s best to pair similar plants together. Keep succulents like aloe with other succulents, and humidity-loving plants like ferns with others. Add the biggest plants first, then place rocks, shells, or even small sculptures among the plants for added intrigue.
A few things to keep in mind:
Make sure your container stays clean. Remove moisture, dust or any algae that may grow on the glass. Keep plants pruned and keep the terrarium out of direct light. Since the globe shaped glass will help the plants maintain moisture, your terrarium shouldn’t need to be water very often – maybe only once a week.