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Bring the Garden Inside with a Terrarium

6/17/2010 11:42:27 AM

Tags: Terrariums, DIY, In The News, Samantha Collins, My Garden, Tips

S.CollinsAccording to The New York Times, terrariums are more popular than ever. These captivating worlds filled with small plants (and even small animals such as frogs or lizards!) can add a little bit of the outdoors to any room. Plus, they are fairly low-maintenance for someone constantly on-the-go.

These miniature gardens can go for a bundle of money at a market; why spend a load of money when you can make one at home? Follow these easy (and fun!) steps to create a little garden with your own creative style.

Here is a great example of a closed "egg" terrarium.
Photo by ex.libric/ Courtest Flickr

You will need: an empty glass container, gravel, activated charcoal (if you're using a container with a lid), moss, soil, seeds and optional decorations.

Here are the basic steps to building a terrarium, according to the Terrarium Man.

1. Choose a container. It can be anything you want! It can range from an old fish bowl to a glass bottle.

2. Place a layer of gravel, sand or pebbles on the bottom of your container. This allows the water to drain and cycle properly in the terrarium.

3. If you are making a closed terrarium, add a thin layer of activated charcoal. This is the same stuff used in aquariums, so you can find it at any pet-supply store.

4. Add a thin layer of moss. This acts like a water filter.

5. Add a layer soil. Any kind potting soil will do the trick. You only need enough in which to embed your seeds.

6. Finally, it's time for the fun part. Add your plants or seeds! Just make sure you don’t over-crowd your plants. The Garden Helper website provides a whole list of terrarium-friendly plants. Depending on the size of your terrarium, keep the plants small. Herbs like parsley, mint, chives and oregano are great choices because they are tough, small plants. Plus, they add a little bit of fragrance to your terrarium. If you want a punch of color, try the Miniature African Violet to brighten things up. After planting, you can add fun, small garden decorations.

7. After everything is placed, add about an ounce of water. Be sure to not add too much. (You don’t want a moldy terrarium!) Keep the terrarium out of direct sunlight so you don't accidently boil your little garden. You need to spray your terrarium every few weeks to keep everything nice and hydrated.

Check out the Terrarium Man’s website for a lot of interesting information on how to create a terrarium. This website provides easy DIY instructions for creating many different kinds of terrariums in various containers and climates, such as a desert terrarium. (You can even learn how to make a terrarium waterfall.)

According to The Terrarium Museum, Dr. Nathanial Ward, a British doctor with an interest in botany, "accidently" invented the terrarium in 1827. He experimented with various cocoons in closed jars and noticed that the plants in the contained jar flourished. He called them "fern cases" because ferns were the first plants he used. Terrariums were also known as Wardian cases in honor of the inventor's name. These terrariums become extremely popular in the 1860s, with every respected Victorian household containing one, then cycled around again in the 1970s. Luckily for us, it looks like the little garden cases recently began to bloom again.

Have you made a terrarium? Do you have any tips on how to make one? Let us know!

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