INTERESTED in testing out your green thumb but hampered by the lack of space in your apartment or condo? Why not consider making your own terrarium?
For the uninitiated, a terrarium is a collection of small, decorative plants, often growing in an enclosed environment.
Sealed terrariums are self-sustaining. The plants and soil release water vapour that is trapped in the container before trickling back down to the soil.
This creates a natural water recycling environment which makes terrariums self-nourishing, and requires little maintenance.
In addition to being a fun DIY project for the whole family, terrariums are a great way to enhance your indoor space and make amazing conversation pieces when you have guests over.
What you need
> A glass or plastic container
> Tweezers or chopsticks
> Peat or sphagnum moss
> Activated charcoal to minimise the smell of decomposition
> Some plants
> Pebbles and sand for a good drainage base
> Small gardening tools
> Coffee grounds to help retain moisture, to be mixed with soil
> Bits of compost as fertiliser to encourage plant growth, to be put at the very bottom
> Decorative items
1. Choose a container that’s large enough for plants to grow in. Having a container with a large opening also makes maintainence easier. Make sure the terrarium has been cleaned and dried well.
2. Fill the bottom of the container with pebbles and sand to provide a good drainage base.
3. Add a thin layer of activated charcoal and cover it up with a layer of peat moss. The activated charcoal helps reduce the smell from any decomposition. The layer of peat moss on top of the charcoal will help retain water and nutrients for plants to grow. The moss also acts as a barrier to prevent soil from settling into the drainage base.
4. It’s time to move in your plants! It’s easier to transplant larger plants first, and move in the smaller ones later. Remember to trim their roots first before placing them in the terrarium.
5. Once the plants are all arranged, you may begin decorating with small items such as pebbles or tiny figurines.
6. Remember to lightly water the base every two weeks, or as needed. A good way to gauge is to check if the soil has dried out. Use a spray bottle to make sure you aren’t watering too much. The soil should be damp, not soaking wet.
7. It’s best to keep terrariums in a place where the plants can get indirect sunlight. The glass of the terrarium can act as a reflector and can create too much heat for the plants if it’s exposed to direct sunlight.
Are you using the right terrarium and plants?
There are two types of terrariums: open and closed terrariums. Plants that don’t do well in humidity should not be kept in a closed terrarium. Succulents fare better in an open terrarium.
Suitable plants include:
> Club moss
> Prayer plant
> Polka-dot plant
> Ti plants
> Southern maidenhair fern
> Creeping fig
Is there too little or too much light?
The glass container can amplify heat and light, which will be bad for your plants. To be safe, keep terrariums out of direct sunlight. It’s better to keep them where the plants are still exposed to some light, but not too much.
If it looks bad, remove it
If a plant looks like it’s dying, use a small shovel to gently remove it. A dying plant can affect the look of your terrarium and if it’s diseased, it could spread to other plants. You can plant something new in its place.
Can I use glass cleaner to wipe the terrarium?
If the terrarium looks dirty, it’s best to lightly spritz with water and wipe it with a clean cloth or newspaper. Using glass cleaners to clean the interior can make your plants sick.
Do I need to air my closed terrarium?
It’s better to open the top of your closed terrarium at least once a month to let it air. Let all the extra water or condensation dry out, before closing it back.
1. A uniquely shaped container can really make your terrarium stand out.
2. Figurines or small pebbles can be added to your terrarium.
3. Remove any dead or wilted leaves promptly to keep your eco-system healthy.