How To: Make a Terrarium

MF Terrarium

Like a miniature enchanted garden, terrariums are a decorative, attractive, and easy way to bring the outdoors inside. They are perfect for urban areas, screened porches, and anywhere that could use some green. Creating and maintaining your own terrarium is a fun creative process and easier than you think!
Containers Nearly any water tight, clear glass or plastic container will do. Look for interesting shaped jars, vases, and even lanterns to create your terrarium. (Scour thrift shops and antique stores.) If you live in a dry area, you'll want a lid or a door that closes. If you live in a humid area, it's better to have an opening. A closed terrarium functions by creating its own ecosystem as the plants release moisture, which condenses inside the container and trickles back into the soil. An open terrarium in a humid area works the same way. An open terrarium in a dry area is perfect for cactus and succulent plants.
Almost any plant will thrive in a terrarium. Slow growing plants are best for those who want low-maintenance terrariums. Fast growing plants will require frequent trimming (think bonsai), which can be therapeutic if you're looking for that. Using a combination of plants works great, too. Ask your local nursery for advice when selecting plants.
Planting Instructions Place a 1/2 inch layer of gravel on the bottom of the container. Sprinkle a layer of activated horticultural charcoal on top of the gravel. Top with potting soil and then your plants. Be careful not to crowd the plants. Add a little water, but not too much. (1/8 cup of water is plenty for a larger terrarium with 4 - 5 plants.) Add decorative elements such as twigs, pebbles, pieces or bark or anything else you like.
Place your terrarium in bright, indirect light. Err on the side of under-watering your plants, rather than over-watering. Most terrariums can go 1 - 2 weeks between watering. Water directly at the base of plants. When the lid is in place, you may see some condensation appear. This means the terrarium is doing its job! If droplets form on the top, there is too much water inside. Remove the lid for a day or two to dehumidify.
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