Gardens Under Glass
Step 1: Select a Container
Step 2: Go Shopping
Step 3: Add Pebbles and Soil
Step 4: Add the Plants
Step 5: Add Water
Step 6: Let it Breathe
Written by Tovah Martin
With sleeker, cleaner lines and plenty of personality,
today’s terrariums are light-years beyond the plain-Jane plant
domes that had a place next to the trailing ivy in a cheesy
macramé hanger. Modern terrariums are all about flexing
your creativity, while still offering a blah-busting, stressreducing
window on nature. They’re the perfect project for
apartment dwellers who might be jonesing for plant life,
or for green-thumb wannabes who just don’t have the time
(or know-how) to care for a full-scale garden.
A well-designed terrarium delivers all the romance of the great outdoors downsized into a jar. Take all the elements
you love in a garden—the plants, the interplay of textures, the
closeness to nature—and shrink them. Terrariums are small
in stature, but they make a big impact.
A closed terrarium acts like a biosphere, sealing in moisture
and drastically reducing watering duties. Select plants that
thrive in high humidity, low light and abundant moisture;
plant them in a glass jar; give them an initial drink; and your
terrarium is good to go for weeks on end.
Plus, a terrarium can be inexpensive. You could spend
plenty on a fancy container. But why not check your garage,
basement or attic for an old fishbowl or cookie jar that’s gathering
dust? Or scout the local flea market or antique store for
a unique planting vessel.
Find something with sufficient height to give the plants
enough headroom. Also, test the mouth of the jar to make
sure your hand can fit in (and out) during planting and
maintenance. But beyond those parameters, anything goes—
aquariums, glass teapots, apothecary jars, canning jars,
lemonade dispensers, you name it. Mix and match lids, or
requisition a glass plate as a cover.
Best of all, these small worlds soak up stress. With a terrarium
around, you can escape for a mini walk in the park
anytime. And that’s something that never goes out of style.
Although a lid will make a terrarium extremely low maintenance, an open-mouthed jar also is acceptable—it will just need water more frequently.
Clear glass is preferred, but
plastic works. (It tends to need
more frequent airing.) Tinted
glass can be used—just place it
closer to a light source.
Wearing gloves, place 1 to
2 inches of pebbles in the
bottom of the container. Add
a small handful of charcoal
pieces, mixing them with the
pebbles and leveling off the
layer. This layer keeps any
water that trickles down from
smelling swampy. The next
layer is the soil. Put in 2 to 3
inches of premoistened soil,
level it, and gently tamp it in.
Dig a small hole in the soil,
tuck in a plant and tamp it
in, making sure no roots are
showing. Do a gentle "tug test"
to be certain that it’s firmly planted. (This is important.)
Repeat this process for each
of your plants. Don’t crowd
in too many. Leave room
for other elements such as
lichen-covered twigs, seedpods,
seashells and pretty
little stones you’ve picked up.
Tap into your inner landscape
designer and have some creative
Lightly water the plants and
then close up the terrarium.
Place it in indirect light. Caution!
Direct sun will bake a
terrarium. Rotate the terrarium
occasionally to make sure that
the entire "landscape" receives
equal light. Condensation on
the glass is normal and means
your small world is getting
along perfectly well.
Every 10 to 14 days, ventilate
the terrarium for a few hours
and then close it back up. If
condensation appears, it’s
good to go for another two
weeks or so. If no condensation
appears, give it a light
drink and close it up again.
With proper planting and
occasional grooming (removal
of yellow leaves, dead foliage
and withered flowers), your
mini landscape can be your
constant companion for years
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.