Hi! Today I’ll be talking about terrariums. I don’t have a picture of my own, but I found this cool, colorful photo on a free image site and I hope it’s inspiring.
There are a few supplies you’ll need. I’ll talk about those and then how to build the terrarium.
– A glass container (you can use opaque containers but you won’t be able to see the layers). I recommend getting ones that will be easy to plant (i.e. they have a large opening). I have done plants in a milk bottle before and it was kind of difficult. Michaels has a lot of options, as does Amazon. You can actually find glass containers at many different places, including most garden stores. If you get one with segments like in the photo, make sure it’s watertight by pouring some water in it. If it’s not, you can seal the seams with aquarium sealant.
– Potting soil – choose one that’s good for the plants you are going to use. This article is a good starting point. If you’re doing a one-plant setup, you can be more specialized. For instance, African Violets have special needs that can be met if it’s the only plant. Also, cacti and succulents have different needs than “regular” plants (it’s a good idea usually not to use both).
– Activated charcoal bits to prevent bacteria growth and bad odors
– Dried moss as a barrier between vase filler and charcoal
– Vase filler or some other decorative objects for the bottom – I often use glass marbles. I’ve also used sea glass shards, pebbles, and sand. You can also leave this part out. Keep in mind that dirt and charcoal could get in the decorative part (even with the most barrier), although I have an idea to prevent that which I’ll discuss later.
– Optional mesh for my trick
– Optional sand and jewels if you want the look from the photo
– Optional mini props if you want to make a “fairy garden” – I’ve found these all over the place. I like The Enchanted Acorn on Etsy.
– Mini plants – as I mentioned before, use either regular plants or cacti/succulents (not both). I often find mini plants at local garden stores. You can also get them online. I’ve had good luck with eBay and Violet Barn (they also sell mini and regular size African Violets).
Plants I’ve enjoyed (there’s lots of information on mini plants at Exotic Angel Plants at Costa Farms):
– Fittonia (my favorite) – also called Nerve Plant. My favorite is the white, and it also comes in pink. There’s a bigger version that’s not as cute. I especially like this plant because it visibly wilts if it needs water and pops right back up in a few minutes when you water it. Also, it prefers shade. It is very hardy.
– Ficus pumila quercifolia (Oak Leaf Fig) – This plant is so cute, but I haven’t been successful keeping it alive. Not sure why.
– Selaginella (Spikemoss) is very pretty.
– Maidenhair Fern was very difficult for me to keep alive. I think it needs to be misted a lot which I didn’t do.
– Crotons come in a few varieties that are all colorful.
– Peperomia comes in many very different varieties. This one is a large-leaved variety called “Rainbow”. Most of the peperomias have smaller leaves on vines, unlike this one where the leaves grow more from the base.
– Philodendrons come in varieties like this Heart-Leaf where the leaves grow on vines, as well as the kind where the leaves grow from the base in a whorl fashion. These aren’t mini, but you can make a 1-plant planter with them. The classic Heart-Leaf is super easy, hardy, and really pretty. It’s also fast-growing. This was my longest-lasting plant. It sat in my kitchen for a long time, which was not well-lit. The other varieties can be more difficult to keep alive.
– Kalanchoe are pretty little flowering plants. I found it hard to get them to bloom after the initial bloom. Maybe they needed fertilizer.
– Ivy comes in a lot of different varieties, big and small. It’s fairly easy to take care of, but not foolproof.
– Dracaena, aka Ribbon Plant or Lucky Bamboo – this plant can be kept as just the leaves (Ribbon Plant) or including the stalk (Lucky Bamboo). I actually got the Ribbon Plant at a pet store for my aquarium, but I ended up just sticking it in some water in a vase. I also had Bamboo that I put in some sand with a lot of water. Both did fairly well.
-African Violets have somewhat of a cult following, kind of like bonsai. They come in tons of really cool colors and sizes. The one below, a mini, is called “Rob’s Astro Zombie”. I’ve had trouble getting them to bloom, but there are a lot of resources out there for help.
– Orchids can be fun but difficult. The one in my photo is a dyed Phalaenopsis. Dye gets injected into the base and travels up into the flowers. Since it’s a one-time thing, new growth is not blue. These need weird “soil” (actually bark chips) and are to be watered once a week with added fertilizer. They also are finicky about moving so keep them in the same spot. It’s hard to get them to stay alive past one bloom cycle, but you can try.
How to arrange the terrarium:
First, put in some vase filler – about 1/4 of the terrarium container, I’d say.
Then, put in the dried moss in a thin layer. My trick for keeping the vase filler clean is to put in some mesh or screen before the moss. The moss is supposed to keep it clean, but moss still has dirt and bits that can fall down.
Then put in a layer of charcoal – maybe half an inch to an inch.
Then put in the potting soil – about 1/4 – 1/3 of the total volume of the container.
Plant the plants.
Put on sand and jewels if you want and add any props you have.