Create Easy, Inexpensive Terrariums – Fun for All Ages

I loved creating simple, easy terrariums as a girl.   All ages can enjoy making them, and they add a simple elegance.

Open terrarium
Open terrarium

They’re inexpensive, low maintenance, and any problems are easy to fix.   Make sure you do a little research first, before you buy your plants and supplies.

Choose plants with similar moisture and light needs.

Terrariums can be open or covered.   Open terrariums can tolerate some direct sun, but too much bright sunlight can burn leaves that touch the sides of the container.

Sun-loving plants that grow in natural light will do well in an open container, including low-moisture succulents.

Closed terrarium
Closed terrarium

Terrariums can also be covered – with plastic wrap, or a clear cover. Covered terrariums can take bright light as long as it’s not direct sunlight, which can cook the plants.

Just watch the heat in your covered terrarium, as well as the light, since covering a terrarium increases the heat.  Watch a covered terrarium’s moisture as well.

Once started, covered terrariums rarely need watering.   Clouding and condensation are signs of too much moisture, which can sicken plants and cause mold, mildew, and algae growth.  Uncover the terrarium for a while to release excess moisture.

Getting Started

It’s easy and inexpensive to start a terrarium. Just find a clear glass or plastic container.  Test it to make sure it doesn’t leak, and wash it well.

You can start by looking around your home for your terrarium, or checking out the Goodwill or other thrift stores.   Old fish bowls, oversized jars, aquariums–use your imagination!martini terrariums

terr layers 1Since terrariums don’t have holes for drainage, you need to line the bottom with a clean drainage material.   Small stones, gravel, or broken pottery work well.

Use about 1 – 4 inches of drainage material, depending on the height of the container.

On top of the drainage layer, put a thin layer of charcoal to keep the soil nice and fresh.

terr layers 2Next, add the potting soil.  Buy a soil that matches the plants’ needs. Use enough soil for the plants’ roots to have plenty of room.

The drainage, charcoal, and soil layers should add up to be about one-third of the height of the container.

Now here’s the fun part – add plants! Slow growing plants are best, and check them carefully for insects and disease.

Start with the largest plants first, and leave them room to grow. Then add the smaller plants and groundcover.

Be creative and dress up your terrarium with figurines.  Animals, furniture, or whatever you want to make your own miniature park.terr apes

Maintaining your terrarium

A newly planted terrarium should be placed in shade for about a week.  Then adjust light according to the plants’ needs.

Most terrariums do better in diffused or filtered light than in direct sunlight.  Artificial light can also be used.

terr deer

If plants get too much sun, leaves will wilt and get burned spots. If that happens, move the terrarium to a shadier spot.

With too little light, plants will get tall, thin stems that are weak and unable to hold up leaves.  Leaves become pale and fragile.

Just be sure you increase amount of light slowly.

Be careful not to over water your terrarium.  Remember, covered terrariums rarely need watering.moisture terr

For moisture loving plants, check the top of the soil.  It should be barely moist before you water again.

Cactus and succulent plants need a drier soil.  Go below to the surface to check for moisture.  Lower soil should only be slightly damp.

If the terrarium gets too dry, the leaves will wilt and look pale.  Moss becomes brown or faded.  Add a little water and mist leaves.

Be sure you clip dead and diseased leaves, and remove dead plants immediately.   Prune or remove plants that have grown too large.

Have fun with your terrariums! They are an old-fashioned fun hobby that can liven up any room. terr feature

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