How to Create a Terrarium

By Karen Hendricks

A touch of spring greenery... inside a terrarium!

A touch of spring greenery… inside a terrarium!

TGIM… Thank Goodness It’s March! Hopefully we’ve witnessed the last snowstorm until next winter, and from here on out, there’s “green” in the forecast, straight through St. Patty’s Day and beyond. Until the sweet green grass of springtime starts appearing outside, here’s one way to bring a little green into your life: By creating a terrarium.

My daughter Kelly & I were inspired to create a terrarium a few years ago, after seeing them at the Philadelphia Flower Show (which is taking place this week–wish we could go again!). What an incredible event! If you ever have the chance to go… do it. It’s a complete immersion into springtime, with inspiration, beauty, advice and entertainment aplenty.

Here’s just a small sampling of some of the terrariums we admired:

IMG_4326WEB

IMG_4368WEB

Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb, this is the easiest form of gardening there is, and I’m sure “you can do it.” A terrarium basically takes care of itself. This little ecosystem under glass retains its moisture, and as long as you have a little heat from the sun every day, it produces the humidity needed to keep your plants happy. Our original terrarium was so happy, the plants outgrew the container and we had to transplant them. Now it’s time to create a new terrarium!

We found this beautifully-shaped glass container at TJ Maxx for about $10.

We found this beautifully-shaped glass container at TJ Maxx for about $10.

Supplies Needed:

  • A glass container (We found ours at TJ Maxx for about $10)
  • Rocks or gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Plants: We’ve had great luck with African violets. Some of the terrariums pictured above also include ferns and ivy. Aim for plants of the same type, needing the same general amounts of light and moisture.
  • Moss for atop the soil
  • Decorative rocks, twigs, figurines, etc

Just follow the sequence of photos below, for step-by-step instructions.

These river rocks, found in the aquarium supplies section of Wal-Mart, work wonderfully in the bottom of a terrarium.

These river rocks, found in the aquarium supply section of Wal-Mart, work wonderfully in the bottom of a terrarium.

Spread a layer of rocks or gravel in the bottom of your container.

Spread a layer of rocks or gravel in the bottom of your container.

Set aside a few colorful rocks that catch your eye. Save them for decorative touches later.

Set aside a few colorful rocks that catch your eye. Save them for decorative touches later.

Next, spread a layer of potting soil and lightly sprinkle with a watering can.

Next, spread a layer of potting soil and lightly sprinkle with a watering can.

Place your plant(s) inside the terrarium and add potting soil around and in between them.

Place your plant(s) inside the terrarium and add potting soil around and in between them.

Add patch(es) of moss atop your soil. To be honest with you, in between winter snowfalls, I used an old table knife to carefully remove some from my yard.

Add patch(es) of moss atop your soil. To be honest with you, in between winter snowfalls, I used an old table knife to carefully remove some from my yard.

Add moss and decorative touches to the terrarium. Be creative!

Add moss and decorative touches to the terrarium. Be creative!

Little figurines such as these turtles add a touch of whimsy.

Little figurines such as these turtles add a touch of whimsy.

Our completed terrarium!  Water lightly and place in a warm, partly sunny location.

Our completed terrarium! Water lightly and place in a warm, partly sunny location.

Additional tips: Don’t place in direct sunlight or your plants will burn. Remove any dead or decaying leaves so the terrarium doesn’t become diseased. Do not over water. As long as you see moisture and “clouds” inside your terrarium, you might not need to water it again for weeks or months. When you no longer see moisture, lightly water or spray mist inside the terrarium. Enjoy!

Have you grown a terrarium? What tips can you add? Is there a wonderful garden show in your area that you can recommend to the Off the Merry-Go-Round community?

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3 thoughts on “How to Create a Terrarium

  1. Coincidentally, I had started thinking about this awhile ago as a possible fun summer project with my son. These step-by-step directions really make it all look so super-easy that I, a proven “plant-killer,” may just give this a try!

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