Monday, February 8, 2010

Bring in the Outdoors: Terrarium

Are you getting the itch to do some gardening? If so, there is no reason you have to wait until spring! 

While temperatures are frigid outdoors I think of ways I can enjoy the garden indoors. Houseplants are great, although you have to make sure not to neglect them. Which is one of the reasons terrariums are so wonderful, they pretty much take care of themselves! They can survive on low light and hardly any watering. Wondering how this is possible? ...While inside the terrarium the plants create their own mini-climate by transpiring water vapor that condenses on the glass and then flows back into the soil. Pretty cool, huh?

They're also fun and interesting to look at... it's like a little world or miniature landscape inside a jar!

What You'll Need:
  • wide mouth glass container with lid
  • pea gravel
  • potting soil
  • small plants
  • and your imagination!

I found this container at Hobby Lobby and got it at 50% off!

You might have a container laying around your house that you can use, such as, a fishbowl, aquarium or an apothecary jar. If your container doesn't have a lid you can use clear plastic wrap, a pane of glass or Plexiglas to cover it.

Remember my trip to the garden nursery? Well, while I was there I picked up these small plants to use in my terrarium. It's best to use plants that are slow growers and have small leaves.

Due to the size of my container I was only able to use 3 of the 5 plants I had selected.

Great Plants for a Terrarium:
  • Acorus
  • African Violets
  • Creeping Fig
  • Moss
  • Maidenhair Spleenwort
  • Needlepoint Ivy
  • Oxalis
  • Peperomia
  • Prayer Plant
  • Peacock Moss (Selaginella Uncinata)
If you're interested in making a desert landscape you'll need succulents and cacti, along with cactus mix soil and sand.

I found these bird nests, butterflies and fence at Hobby Lobby. Remember, you are only limited by your imagination! Other fun ideas you could add are iron birds, glass snails, turtles or frogs, concrete mushrooms, rocks to represent boulders, small mirrors to represent ponds...

Let's get started!

Step 1: Add 1 to 3 inches of pea gravel to the bottom of the container (depending on the depth of your container) for drainage.

Tip: Pea gravel can be difficult to find during the winter months... Since I forgot to get some while I was at the garden nursery I decided to look for some at Wal-Mart. I first went to the garden department and ask if they had any but was told they wouldn't be getting any in for a couple of weeks. So then I headed over to where they stock aquarium supplies and found some aquarium gravel which works fabulous!

Step 2: Add 3 inches of potting soil on top of the pea gravel.

Step 3: Time to plant! You can arrange your plants on the table to get an idea of how you want the landscape to look. Then simply plant them in the terrarium just like you would plant them in your garden. Place the taller plants in the back, mid-size plants in the middle and low growing things like moss in the front.

In case you're wondering what I'm drinking... it's a refreshing glass of pomegranate juice mixed with sparkling water, complements of my mom. Yum! 

Step 4: Give it a nice top coat of pea gravel.

Step 5: Now for the really fun part... it's time to put your imagination in full swing! Bring on the ACCENTS!

I choose to use a garden fairy, a bird nest with three robin eggs and a monarch butterfly for my accents.

Step 6: Pour in some water and place your lid on top.

You're finished! Now you have your very own terrarium that you can enjoy year around!

My mom made two terrariums, one for her and one for my grandma (my grandma was too busy playing with Angelia) using this container that was on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

She added a garden fairy and a fence for their accents.

After we finished, I carefully transported my terrarium to my house where it found it's home next to the window on our living room side table.

(Angelia loves the fairy inside, she waves at it and blows it kisses!)

So, how often do you need to water your terrarium? ...That depends on how tightly your lid fits. The looser the lid the more moisture will escape. A good way to tell when you need to water is by monitoring the condensation on the glass. If there is no condensation, give it a light watering. If there is heavy condensation, remove the lid to allow the excess moisture to escape.

Have you ever made a terrarium? If so, I'd love to hear about it!
Do you have any fun accent ideas? Use your imagination and get creative with it!

{This post was shared on The Shabby NestA Beach Cottage, and Remodelaholic.} 

Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays




  1. Jaclyn, that is awesome! I really want to make one now!

  2. Thank you, Aubrey! If you make one I'd love to see yours when you're done!

  3. Really inspiring, Jaclyn. I'll let you know if I make one. You take GREAT pictures of your stuff!