Terrarium Fever!

2 Apr
Things I love: plants, dioramas, miniatures, glass jars. Given this information, I ask you: how am I to resist this terrarium fad?!
I simply cannot.
I was in Sprout Home the other day because Google told me it was the closest garden nursery to my home. What I didn’t know is that they host massively popular terrarium-building classes, and the majority of their interior space panders to terrarium builders. I came for some pretty flowers to put in a pot on my patio table and I left with an overwhelming need to build a whole slew of irresistibly adorable living dioramas.
And it just so happens that I have a (perhaps excessive) collection of glass jars and bottles just begging me to be transformed into tiny enchanted forests.

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be a terrarium expert, so I will just give you some of the basics and show you what I did. There are plenty of great resources out there to guide you through all your terrarium adventures and misadventures. I would recommend starting with an online image search and/or a visit to Sprout Home to see some terrariums and get inspired. There are a lot of different styles and options; your terrarium is your very own mini world and as long as the plants inside it require approximately the same amount of moisture, you can do pretty much whatever you want.
The primary distinction is open or closed.
An open terrarium is left open to the air; a closed terrarium is sealed. A closed terrarium is only appropriate for a rainforest-variety climate and creates a self-sustaining environment as the moisture in the soil evaporates into the air, condenses on the walls on the container and returns to the soil, so these guys don’t actually need to be watered. Rainforest flora can be kept in an open terrarium, too, but they will require watering. Succulents and cacti should always be kept in an open terrarium.
For my terrarium, I wanted a lush forest with a miniature animal or two to call it home. I wasn’t satisfied with Sprout Home’s figurine collection, but there is a lovely shop down the block, Moon River Chattel, that has (among so many other beautiful things) a nice collection of high quality animal figurines. I came home with a particularly handsome black bear whom I absolutely adore.
Isn’t she precious?
Things You’ll Need:
Glass container
Moss (for lush scapes)
Small plants
Figurines, sticks, shells, small objects, etc.

For my forest I chose miniature ferns and hypoestes, baby tears, and a fern moss. Explore the options and your local nursery and ask the attendants there if you are unsure. For moss I used a combination of live moss and preserved reindeer moss.
1. Cover the bottom of your container with a layer of rocks to keep your soil away from any sitting water that might accumulate.

2. Cover your rocks with a layer of charcoal. This filters the air and prevents mold; it is especially important if you’re building a closed terrarium.

3. Cover your charcoal with a layer of sand for better drainage.

4. Cover your sand with soil.
Keep in mind while you’re putting down these layers how they look at the edges, 
where you can see them through the glass.

5. Plant your plants in the soil, surrounding the base of the plants with moss (this helps keep your plants moist in all the right places).
Think about how you lay out your terrarium, varying texture and color for a more interesting display.  A well-laid terrarium is truly a work of art.
Come! Join me and all the other hipsters in the greatest craze in home decor since the mounted deer head.

One Response to “Terrarium Fever!”

  1. Stephanie April 2, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    I didn't know terrariums where hip again. I made one years ago in one of those giant bottled water jugs back when they were still glass. I love the little bear :-)~mom

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