5 Steps for making your own Terrarium

Sometimes making a good investment on your health and wellbeing is to create a space that promotes these ideals. One step to this goal is to create clean fresh air! The best air purifiers are plants.  With this in mind here is a tutorial for you to create your own terrarium!

Step 1

Gather Your Materials

20140310_121841You will need a suitable container to be your plant habitat. You will need drainage at the bottom: gravel, pebbles or broken pottery. Also, you will need charcoal, soil suitable to the habitat you want (read ahead for more on this), plants that are of the same water needs and finally any fun pieces you want to add in there for creativity such as pretty rocks or little figurines.




Step 2

Your Vessel

20140310_114541Find a suitable container to work as your soon to be plant habitat. It should be clear glass and attractive to your particular tastes. Make sure your vessel is thoroughly clean particularly if you used it for other things. I used a fish bowl I found at a pet store for $10 many years ago. It made a terrible fish habitat but I think it’s perfect for a terrarium! Mine has an open top but you can also use a totally enclosed vessel. I washed it with hot water and soap. Then I filled it with water and added a small amount of bleach to make sure. Remember you are creating an enclosed environment. We don’t want any unfriendly bacteria or molds.

Step 3

Your Soil

20140310_122028Wash your pebbles the same way you did your vessel. Add them to the bottom of the container. Next add your layer of charcoal. You can buy plant charcoal at the store but I think any charcoal will work. It will filter your water and keep your habitat clean. I am an artist so I used some art charcoal (I don’t draw with it anyways). I broke up the pieces and made a solid layer on top of the gravel. 20140310_122415

Next add a small layer of soil. If you are making a tropical habitat your soil should be loamy with water retaining properties. If you are making a desert habitat it should drain easily and be sandy. If you want an orchid if should be barky so the water can be retained but lots of air can circulate to the roots. I chose a sub-tropical environment for my open top container so my soil is loamy.


Step 4

Add Your Plants

20140310_123010Next you will want to add your plants. Be creative here! Also, remember these plants are dynamic living things, they are going to grow. Leave them space to grow and develop solid root systems. All the plants should have the same water needs. I pulled in some scottish moss (which I cleaned thoroughly and wiped down with diotomacious earth) from outside, I bought an asparagus fern and I also have some hens and chicks in there from a different plant.

Take your main attraction plant and place it first. In my case it was the asparagus fern. I think it looks like bamboo. I placed it in the back and mounded dirt all around equal to the 4″ root ball size.  Then I added the scottish moss to one side to help secure the soil as well as add an eye pleasing cascade that leads up to my fern. On the other side I added the hens and chicks. I am hoping these will grow to stabilize the piled soil but also to look like bushes in my little landscape.

Step 5

Add Flare!

20140310_111422My final step was to add some fun elements to my terrarium. My good friend had made me a very pretty flower arrangement with a little man in it. I decided to repurpose the little person into my terrarium landscape. I also added a few little rocks around the hens and chicks for them to grow into and finally a larger piece of obsidian from a fun hike I had with friends. I like adding elements that not only add flare to the terrarium but invoke happy memories!

Care For Your Terrarium

Give your habitat some water and place the lid on if it has one. Find a nice place in your house where you can see your terrarium often and where it can get lots of indirect sunlight. I have mine on a table at a NE facing window that I have sheers over. Keep an eye on your little habitat: it should have enough water to circulate condensation through to soil and air but not so much mold forms on any of the plants or dirt.  Wait for the soil to dry before adding water to a desert environment and only a little moist for your tropical ones. Orchids prefer mist to actual water and usually need added nutrients to their water (compost tea in a spray bottle). If your plants look spindly and tall they need more light. Dried out leaves and soil they need less direct sunlight. Trim your plants, remove dead parts and enjoy!



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