Mother Earth Living

Try This: How to Make a Terrarium

Use natural elements and repurposed vessels to create simple, stylish terrariums. Learn how to make a DIY terrarium!
By Kelly Wilkinson
March/April 2012

Green up your desktop or any bare corner with this simple terrarium.
Photo By Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Bring the Garden Inside with a Terrarium

Believe it or not, terrariums are coming back into style. Learn how to make your own terrarium with ...

Winter Project: How to Make a Plant Terrarium

Grow herbs indoors over the winter months with this simple gardening idea.

Healthy, Green Design: How to Make a Terrarium

Terrariums are beautiful in any room setting and they are a great activity to share with children. I...

DIY: Building Terrariums

Terrariums are easy to make and a great way to incorporate nature into any room.

Easy to make and maintain, terrariums are perfect for brown thumbs, but garden enthusiasts will also enjoy creating these miniature landscape designs. Transform empty bottles into happy DIY terrarium homes (see “Bottle Remodel” further along in this article), or scour your kitchen cabinets, recycling bins and local thrift stores for clear glass containers with wide mouths. Once you’ve selected your container, fill it with small, slow-growing plants. Opt for one striking specimen, or select an odd number of plants with similar needs in a variety of shapes and colors. If you want to grow your terrarium in a lidded container, choose plants that prefer humidity.

How to Make a Terrarium

Tools & Materials 

• Newspapers
• Cut bottle (see instructions in “Bottle Remodel”) or another glass vessel (see suggestions below)
• Pea gravel or pebbles
• Activated charcoal (available where aquariums are sold)
• Sphagnum moss or Spanish moss
• Premixed terrarium soil or high-quality potting soil mixed with builders’ sand and humus (2 parts potting soil to 1 part each sand and humus)
• Small, slow-growing plants such as air plants, miniature ferns, succulents or moss (choose plants in 2- to 4-inch pots with similar light and moisture needs; ask a local nursery for suggestions)
• Spray mister filled with water
• Tapered cork stopper if using moss or other plants that require a humid environment (multiple sizes available at brewing supply stores or at Jelinek Cork Group)

1. Cover your work surface with a layer of newspaper and set your glass container in the center. Add 1/2 inch of pea gravel or pebbles for drainage.

2. Top the gravel or pebbles with a thin layer of charcoal granules to absorb odors, followed by a thin layer of moss, which will act as a barrier and prevent soil from falling into the gravel or pebbles.

3. Top the moss with 1/2 to 1 inch of soil (or more if you’re using a tall glass container and tall plants).

Add Terrarium Plants 

1. Carefully place the plants into the soil, creating a small hole for the roots and lightly tamping the soil around each plant.

2. Spritz the inside of the glass with a mister to remove extra soil.

3. Add cork top if you’re using plants that like humidity. Take it off to let air circulate whenever you see condensation build up on the inside of the glass.

4. Place the terrarium out of direct sunlight. Now comes the hard part: Leave the terrarium alone. It’s a self-contained system and will do better if not disturbed. Water once a month (or as needed when soil is dry to the touch) with a spray bottle.

Reprinted with permission from Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson. 

Bottle Remodel

When cut with a simple hobby kit, glass wine or sparkling water bottles become charming bottle terrarium containers, drinking glasses or candleholders.

Bottle-Cutting Tools & Materials 

• Glass container, such as a wine or sparkling water bottle
• Newspapers
• Protective eyewear
• Glass bottle-cutting kit (available at craft stores or at Ephrem’s Bottle Works)

1. Wash the glass bottle and let it dry. Cover your work surface with newspapers to catch shards of glass. Put on protective eyewear.

2. Cut the glass bottle about 5 inches above the base, following hobby kit instructions. Most kits use a tool to score the glass, heating and cooling to crack the glass, then a powder to polish the cut edge.

3. When finished with the cutting and polishing, carefully discard the newspapers. Recycle remaining large glass pieces.

For more bottle-cutting how-to, go to "Green Your Life: Bottle Cutting 101."

Natural Habitat

Make your terrarium a masterpiece with these techniques and tips.

• Choose clear glass so you can admire the contents and terrarium plants can get light. Good options include pickle, mason and apothecary jars; glass cloches on top of cake stands; brandy snifters; fishbowls; and vases.

• Big containers are easier to work with. Temperatures inside are more moderate, and air flow is better. If you forget to water your plants or they get overheated, large terrariums are more forgiving.

• Lidded terrariums trap humidity, so choose plants that thrive in humid air such as ferns, tropical houseplants and mosses. Keep lidded terrariums out of direct sunlight—even 15 minutes can be lethal.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 50%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.