How To Make a Terrarium
Succulents are having more than just a moment; they’re proving to be one interior design trend with staying power. If you’re as obsessed with these pint-sized plants as we are then why not showcase your succulents to best effect in a stylish terrarium? A throwback from the 1970’s the terrarium is well and truly back in fashion. These small tabletop gardens are not only easy to make (and care for) but they’re a great way to bring a sense of the great outdoors into the home.
WHAT IS A TERRARIUM?
A terrarium is an enclosed environment for plants. Think of it as a miniature greenhouse. Most terrariums are made of glass or other transparent material and are either completely sealed or have a small opening.
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE A TERRARIUM?
To make a terrarium you will need:
- A suitable container – you can use anything from a recycled coffee jar to a goldfish bowl or vase. It's best to choose a container with an opening wide enough to accommodate the width your hand so that you can easily place and move materials as needed. Glass or plastic is fine but avoid anything coloured as this can stunt the growth of your plants. We love the geometric style terrariums that are really popular at the moment.
- Small stones or gravel – these stones act as a drainage system to ensure any excess water doesn’t saturate the soil and cause your plants to rot.
- Activated charcoal – available from most good garden centres this is an absolutely essential ingredient, especially for closed terrariums, as it fights bacterial growth and combats any unpleasant smells.
- Potting soil – any type should do the trick but if using specialist plants such as cacti or carnivorous plants you may want to choose a special mix.
- A selection of plants – it wouldn’t be a terrarium without a little greenery. See our recommendations of plants that are suitable for a terrarium below.
- Moss or decorative gravel – to cover the top soil. Choose whichever you prefer.
WHAT PLANTS ARE SUITABLE FOR A TERRARIUM?
Not all houseplants are suitable for a terrarium. Slow-growing plants that prefer high humidity are best. Here’s our guide to the best plants for your terrarium:
- Succulents including cacti are ideal because they generally thrive in high light and low moisture environments.
- Carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps, Pitcher plants and Sundew plants make an interesting addition.
- Airplants such as Tillandsia will thrive quite happily in an open terrarium where they have a constant air supply.
- Ferns such as the Variegated spider plant enjoy the moist potting mix and high humidity found inside a terrarium.
- Starfish plants grow to a maximum 6 inches, making them ideal for small terrariums.
- Grasses such as Minimus Aureus are perfect for terrariums and require very little maintenance.
Top tip: When selecting plants for your terrarium keep succulents and cacti together, and fern and tropical plants together, because they require different amounts of water and soil.
HOW TO MAKE A TERRARIUM
Terrariums are so easy to make. Follow our step by step guide on how to make a terrarium below or watch our easy to follow video.
- Find a suitable container and give it a good clean.
- Place a handful of stones in the base of the container to create a layer about 1-2 inches deep.
- Add a generous helping of activated charcoal.
- Top the activated charcoal with a layer of good quality potting soil.
- Dig out a hole in the soil for your plants and add them one by one, placing the taller plants towards the back.
- Cover any exposed soil with a layer of moss or decorative stones, whichever you prefer.
- Display your terrarium in a sunny spot out of direct light
- Mist every 2-3 weeks taking care not to over water
HOW TO CARE FOR A TERRARIUM
- Terrariums are self-nourishing so require very little maintenance. If you get the eco-system right, terrariums can last for several years. Follow these care tips for terrariums.
- Place your terrarium in a sunny spot but out of direct sunlight
- Lightly mist your open terrarium every 3-6 weeks with water. Take care not to overwater. Terrariums don’t like to be too moist.
- If you have a closed terrarium you may want to remove the lid every now and again to let in some fresh air.