Making Terrariums

Eliza Clark
April 12, 2016

All around, the world is blooming. It's like a jungle out there! So lush and green and lovely. It makes even the most non-gardener of non-gardeners feel like watering something—even a meager handful of dirt hosting a sorry excuse for a houseplant will do.

And in this state of greenery inspired enthusiasm, we're thinking that maybe we can do better. Maybe there's a way for us to scoop up a piece of the summer jungle and make it our own, tend to it and commune with it all year long. It's time to teach our kids that a "green thumb" is only achieved by getting your hands dirty.

So here's the plan: we're making a terrarium. Don't laugh. Have you seen a terrarium lately? Have you seen the magnificent terrariums of artist Paula Hayes (our of muse for the day)? Terrariums can be absolutely beautiful! They are miniature landscapes, tiny ecosystems that you can put together in an afternoon, and watch evolve over the course of years.

And friends, what a great activity to do with the kids. This is cheap, creative, and educational fun: so join us!

Here we go:

Step 1: Choose a container. It can be as small as a jam jar, and as big as a fish tank. We'll probably go for a round, fish-bowl type glass vase just because it's pretty.

Step 2: Prepare for planting. First put down a 1.5 inch layer of small pebbles on the bottom of the container; then, a thin layer of charcoal; then a one inch layer of sphagnum moss. Next add enough potting soil to fill up one-fourth of the container.  Remember that the soil will settle over time.

Step 3: Place small or miniature plants in the container, and experiment with different arrangements. Make sure that the plants you choose have similar growing requirements (i.e. wet or dry soil). After planting, water sparingly. Remember there's no drainage hole in your container, and you don't want the roots sitting in water.

Step 4: Add rocks, sea glass, driftwood or other decorative elements. The kids might like to add in a few of their little plastic animals... and why not? So fun.

For more exciting terrarium ideas, be sure to take a look at these beautiful books:

Enjoy your mini-gardens everyone!

Photo by Lindsey Turner/Flickr.

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