You can make a terrarium in less than an hour, with very few materials and it doesn’t have to be expensive. To save money, shop at discount stores, flea markets or stores that are in liquidation, where you can find glass containers, jars or even bowls of really cheap colored fish but with a nice appearance. The plants you will use are usually small indoor plants, which often only cost a couple of euros each, so the entire project, depending on the size of your jars, you can get only about 20 euros. Terrariums are also a wonderful and impressive gift idea, even for people who think they can’t care for plants.
What you need to do a terrarium
- Glass containers with or without lid
- Gravel, sea glass or beach stones.
- Activated carbon (found in a pharmacy or pet store)
- Terrarium plants
- Mix for pots
- Mold (optional)
- Decorative elements (optional)
The first step is to choose your terrarium
You can really use anything for a terrarium, as long as it’s made of glass. You can even use heavy plastic, but most people prefer the appearance of glass. Look for a jar or container with a wide mouth. While it is possible to use something with a small opening, it is much easier to add plants if your container has a wide mouth. Also, keep in mind that, it isn’t the best thing that your plants touch the sides of your vase. So the wider the container, the more plants and soil you can place.
Also, keep in mind that if you use a large container, you will have a greater variety of types and sizes of plants that you can use, as well as the option of placing decorative items, such as shells, figurines or ornaments. You will find many interesting and fun glass containers at the flea market or thrift store.
The choice of terrarium plants
When choosing terrarium plants, make sure they are small enough to fit into your jar, preferably without touching the sides. You will also want to buy plants that don’t mind being in a humid environment. This leaves out most of the succulents and cactus.
However, if you have a great love for succulents, you can make beautiful terrariums with these plants, but you will want to make an open terrarium and add clean, thick sand to your pot.
When considering terrarium plants, look for plants that like little light. It also tries to get a mix of sizes, leaf textures, and leaf colors.
Here is a list of possible terrarium plants). Many others will work, but these are some of the easiest to combine.
These are some plants suitable for use in a terrarium.
- Small ferns
- Lucky bamboo
- Climbing Ficus
Adding drainage layers to your terrarium
Your container won’t have drainage holes in the bottom, so you’ll want to create a place for extra water to come out to keep it away from the roots of your plants. For that, you can put a layer of moss on the bottom of your terrarium to absorb additional water. The way it looks is also beautiful.
If you don’t have moss, you can also start a layer of stones. Place at least one layer of stones on the bottom (it has some flexibility with this if its container is shallow).
Then, using a large spoon, add a layer of activated charcoal over the stones. The purpose of this is to help drain and control any odor that may occur.
The next step is to add moss on top of the stones and coal. This is to prevent your next layer, potting soil, from mixing with coal and stones. This is an aesthetic decision so this step is optional. It is worth doing because you can add visual interest to your terrarium.
With a large spoon or small shovel, add the potting mix over your moss or if you are not using moss, place the potting mix right on top of your charcoal. Add as much potting mix as you can, at least a couple of centimeters. You will want to make sure that your plants fit in your terrarium with the upper part on, so you may have to keep your plants on hand to have an idea of how much soil to add.
At this point, it is important to think about the design. Will the terrarium have back and forehead? If so, you will probably want to put your plant higher in the back or in the middle. You can also contour your floor so that it is crowded and sagged to create interest.
Preparing your plants
Remove your plants from their pots. You may find that they are linked to the root, in which case you will want to separate the roots, even cut them. By cutting some of the roots, called root pruning, it will also retard the growth of your plant, which is generally good when plants are grown in the confines of a terrarium. You will also want to remove any excess soil.
Planting your terrarium
Using a large spoon, or your fingers, make a hole in the potting mix. Place your plant in the hole and gently tap the earth around it. If your terrarium has a narrow neck in which you can’t put your hand, you can use chopsticks to cook or long tweezers to place the plants and accommodate them.
You want to make sure that there are no air pockets between the roots of your terrarium plants and the soil. A good trick is to put a cork on the end of a skewer or toothpick to flatten the floor, especially for a terrarium with a small opening.
Watering your terrarium
With a spray bottle, water your terrarium. You don’t want it to be soaked, just wet. You can also use the spray bottle to clean any dirt that has adhered to the glass sides of your container, which you can then clean with a newspaper. Never use glass cleaner inside a planted terrarium, as it could make your plants sick.
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