Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Terrarium, Terrarium

A friend and I decided to ignore the Superbowl last Sunday and throw a terrarium party instead. Terrariums are quite the trend these days, maybe because they offer a chance to be creative and exercise that green thumb without actually requiring artistic skill or a green thumb. You only need a few ingredients to make a kick-ass terrarium.

To start with, you'll need:
 Sphagnum Moss Soil Cover (0180) - Ace Hardware
Sphagnum moss
FoxFarm FX14023 Light Warrior Soilless Mix, 1 cu ft.
Soil-less potting mix
Think of these as the layers in your four-layer bean dip. (That's my last Superbowl reference.) Each layer plays a role:
Start with a bottom layer of gravel to provide drainage
Add some charcoal to act as a water filter to prevent the water from stagnating
A layer of sphagnum moss will keep the dirt separate from the gravel
And finally, a couple of inches of soil will give roots a home and something to eat

You will also need:
  • A clear container
  • A small plant or two or three
  • (Moss, rocks, lichen covered twigs, a mini garden gnome...)

Some garden stores cater to terrarium makers by providing mini plants, each in its own container. They're easy to fit into your terrarium.  But if you can't find mini-plants, aim for small plants that can be divided. Look for a small pot with multiple stalks coming out of the dirt. When you remove the plant from the pot, divide the stalks from each other by the stalks by gently pulling the root system.

A few tips to help your terrarium succeed:
  • Keep it simple - don't put too many plants in the same container to avoid crowding
  • Choose plants depending on conditions. My dining room gets more shade than light, so I chose leafy plants that I think (hope) will do OK here
  • Water generously after transplanting to help plants recover from the shock

There's really not much more to it than that. If you need some inspiration, check these out:

And if you're really adventurous, you could even solder your own glass container like Sonia did. She filled it with sand, seashells, pebbles, and air plants:
That rake? It's an extendable back-scratcher :)


  1. Hey Julia - I love the blog!

    I can't wait to try and make one of these! Out of curiosity, if you completely seal your terrarium, can they get too much sun? I guess I'm thinking of how hot the inside would get in direct sun, sort of like the greenhouse effect, but then again I'm not sure the greenhouse effect is a bad thing for plants...

  2. Thanks, Kristina! To answer your question about too much sun, I have to admit I'm not sure. My guess is that too little sun is a bigger problem, because the water doesn't evaporate as quickly and mold and fungus can set in. In that case, I might open the terrarium and/or find a warmer spot.

    In the case of a lot of sun, the water would stay contained, since it's a closed system. As long as the plants don't dry out, I assume they would be ok. But the best way to find out is to give it a try! (And let me know, of course!)