Green thumbs: not all of us have them. I personally have difficulty keeping an orchid out of the danger zone, let alone an entire garden. And even for those of us with the knowledge, finding the time and space to create the Eden of your dreams is exceedingly difficult (especially in LA). Luckily, terrariums can be a creative, fun, and aesthetically pleasing way to indulge your inner gardener without breaking your back… or the bank.Since the terrarium trend has been around for a bit now, you can find any number of super chic (and super expensive) ready-made terrariums at décor boutiques or online. But why not show your personality and create your own? Besides the satisfaction that only a DIY project can provide, building a terrarium is a fantastic way to breathe modern new life into your space.
Here are the materials you will need. All can be found in a nursery or home improvement center, but we recommend combing your local flea market or antique store for a really unique container:
- Glass jar or container
- Activated charcoal
- Potting soil (get seed-starting soil, which is semi-sterile and will prevent bacterial growth)
- Small plants (ferns and succulents work best)
1.) Build the foundation
To begin, thoroughly wash your container with hot water and soap. Dry completely, then layer the following materials in this order: gravel, charcoal, then soil. The whole purpose of these steps is to control moisture and hence, bacterial growth. This is an essential component to assuring that not only does your terrarium live, but it doesn’t stink. Ugh.
Shape the soil into interesting mounds and little hills; the more shape you give it, the more space-like it will be. Then add the moss and plants to the top. Any sort of drought resistant plant will thrive in this environment, so ferns and various types of colorful young succulents are great choices. If the opening of your container is very small, you can use chopsticks to do your arranging.
3.) Maintain and enjoy!
Simply keep an eye (and a nose) out for dryness in your terrarium, but otherwise you can leave it alone completely! Filtered or indirect sunlight is best. Depending on the size, you may use a small spray bottle to water every so often, or even just an eye-dropper. NEVER over-water your terrarium; there is no natural drainage and you are asking for a stinking nightmare if not a watery grave for plants. If you have a closed container with a lid, expect there to be a natural cycle of condensation that will help keep the watering down to a minimum. If it is open container, expect it to be more prone to dryness and water it a little more often.
Simple, chic, and cheap! Not to mention a great conversation piece and gift. Feel free to declare to your friends from now on that while you may live in a 500 square foot apartment in the city, you yourself are a gardener