Terrariums add life, beauty, and visual interest to any indoor spot. They add life to a well lit office or a room in your home and even help increase the oxygen content in the air. Having that bit of green in your spaces brings the touch of life to any setting. This guide will help you understand the steps needed to make your own terrarium.
Getting The Gear
Before you can start your terrarium there are a few things you need to collect and buy. You might already have a few of these laying around that you can re-purpose. Here is a list of what you will need to get started:
The container you build your terrarium can be as small or as big as you want. Popular containers people use for terrariums can be candy bowls, goldfish bowls, and even canning jars. You can even choose a container that features a top and a seal.
A Set Of Gloves
Many terrarium lovers choose to plant succulents and cactus as they are easy on the water, which means easy on the maintenance. Use gloves and protect your hands as you build your terrarium. It also keeps the possible stains of dirt off your hands.
Tools For Success
Depending on the size of your terrarium it might be difficult to reach into the container to position things. Having a nice set of long tweezers for positioning helps you get it right. Also some funnels or spoons help lay your layers of rock and soil evenly.
Having a place for the water to come to rest is critical for terrariums. Many people simply use rocks like marbles, polished pebbles, or even sea glass. Others choose to use activated charcoal to give the base layer the property of water cleansing.
Sheet moss in your terrarium helps create a layer to keep your charcoal clean. It helps separate the potting soil layer from the activated charcoal or substrate.
Using potting soil that you buy at your local nursery is the best way to start your terrarium. Using soil from outside can be problematic as it might already contain seeds for other plants or the wrong pH balance for the type of plants you are adding to your terrarium.
There are all sorts of options for terrarium plants. Most indoor plants are going to be placed in semi low light areas. Choosing plants that can thrive in low light is key to making a successful terrarium.
Putting Your Terrarium Together
Once you have all your materials, container, tools, and plants you are ready to get your hands dirty. Follow these steps to build your terrarium.
Step #1 – Make sure the container you have chosen is clean inside. Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the container and that it is rinsed thoroughly.
Step #2 – Take a handful of your base layer, the rocks, and place them at the bottom of your container. This layer should be about 1-2 inches thick. Its purpose is aeration and drainage. Without the base layer being a place for water to drain your plants can be over-watered and have root rot.
Step #3 – Place your semi damp sheet moss on top of the layer of rocks. If you need to soak your sheet moss for a few seconds and gently squeeze it to remove excess moisture. Place it evenly and make sure it creates a nice seal on all of the edges to prevent soil from leaking into the base layer of rocks.
Step #4 – Using spoons or a funnel add your potting soil to your terrarium on top of the sheet moss. The type you use will depend on the type of plants you have chosen. Each type of plant typically says on its tag which type of soil is best. If you have multiple types of plants simply using a non-moisture-control soil should work fine.
If you want your terrarium to have a little visual interest you can choose to have valleys, hills, and an uneven surface with this layer. There should be several inches of soil for your plants to grow in and get the nutrients they need to thrive.
Step #5 – Much like planting your plants outdoors, you will need to loosen up the root ball. Then you will want to set them in a small divot in your soil and cover the roots with soil. If the plants you have chosen don’t quite fit you can trim them a bit to help add them to your terrarium.
Step #6 – Get some water in your terrarium. It will help the plants adjust to a new environment. Water sparingly as there are not drainage holes in terrariums. Most plants used for terrariums are also low water use plants so just keep an eye on your soil and make sure it doesn’t get too dry. Many owners simply mist their plants every other week and have plenty of water for their plants to grow.
For closed terrarium systems you will want to create a healthy balance of water which will heat up, evaporate, and then “rain” down on your plants each day to give them the water they need. This is a delicate balance and has to be carefully managed for sealed terrarium systems.
Terrarium Supplies – Phoenix Valley
If you are ready to make a terrarium and live in the Phoenix valley A&P Nursery has the plants, soils, tools and understanding to help you get started. Come take a look at our inventory of plants for your terrarium and get our expert advice on choosing the right soil and plants for the size of terrarium you want to start.