Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To: plant a terrarium

For years I've been steadily accumulating glass containers with the intention of planting terrariums in them and yesterday, with the wonderful weather and just a little extra time between jobs, I finally did. I've been reading up on them and gathering plants, moss, and soil for about a week now. A couple of years ago my mom gave me the book The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin and Kindra Clineff. I thought it was cool but never took the time to read it...until last week. The book gives a very thorough explanation of terrariums: the first one accidentally created by a fern in a bottle, Wardian cases, open containers, etc. The best part is the great resource of case studies in the back, though. It tells you how to plant your own terrarium and beyond that gives a break down of the different environments and types of plants acceptable for use in them. It also lets you know the preferable supplies you'll need to plant each one. On top of that they list many greenhouses and nursuries from which to obtain supplies. With all this under my belt, I set off to plant my first terrarium. Read on for the visual how-to after the jump!

 The first step? Gather your materials. You'll need soil (I mixed mine with a little peat moss), pebbles, activated charcoal, sheet moss, a container, your plants, gloves, and a trowel. The gloves are a must, especially for dealing with moss (for fungal reasons) and the charcoal (which is also called activated carbon. You can find it in the aquarium section of a pet store). First, flip your sheet moss over and line the bottom of your container with it. This will both make it prettier and act as a sponge for water.
 Next, mix your pebbles with a handful of charcoal. This helps to filter the water. Add about and inch of that.
 Next it's time to add your soil and plant. I learned that I needed to add a thin layer of soil and then fill in around my plants for this one. It takes time because of the tall container, but eventually you'll get it. For this terrarium I used a Fittonia (thanks for the tip!) and some clubmoss.
At the end I added a tuft of reindeer moss and some pebbles and stones. Be sure to keep your terrarium out of direct sunlight and enjoy! Wasn't that easy? -hil


  1. Looks like that is a Fittonia, not a Hypoestes. Nice job, looks great!

    1. thanks, Josh, I think you're right! Also, I love the maiden hair fern terrarium on your blog. Lovely!