Terrariums are a huge hit — with the Curious Setting team, that is. Ria and I both have them in our homes and have been maintaining them since last year. There’s nothing like growing a little green inside the domicile. Mine is propped on my desk next to my laptop. For someone who lives in an apartment, this is pretty much my only access to greenery. (Don’t feel sad for me. I also have a fridge stocked with three flavors of Ben & Jerry’s, so life is fair.)
We turned to florist Patricia Pastelero to demonstrate the easiest way to set up a terrarium at home. (Props to our talented intern Lesley for the beautiful photographs.)
Materials: glass container, pebbles/gravel/sea glass, activated charcoal, sphagnum moss (or dry moss, if not available), potting mix/soil, mini outdoor or indoor plants, decorative elements (optional), spoon, barbeque sticks
1. Decide if you want an indoor plant terrarium, or an outdoor one. Suggested plants for closed/indoor terrarium: mini ferns, sansevieria, lucky bamboo, bromeliads. For open/outdoor: succulents, cacti, baby’s tears, aloe vera.
2. Make sure your vase is thoroughly clean to ensure zero bacteria growth. Bleach mixed with water can be used to clean.
3. Add 1 to 2 inches of pebbles to the bottom of vase for drainage.
4. Spread a thin layer of charcoal over the pebbles. Charcoal is used to keep the soil in your terrarium fresh. If doing an open terrarium, you can skip this step.
5. Place a layer of moss over the charcoal to keep your soil from moving down into the pebbled layer.
6. Add soil. Make sure there’s enough soil for plants to grow and take root. If the roots of selected plants are 2 inches high, allow for 2.5 to 3 inches of soil. If 4 inches, make sure to have 4.5 to 5 inches of soil.
7. Remove plants from pots and remove excess soil from the roots.
8. Moisten the soil. Drizzle a respectable amount or spray a light dusting of water over the entire surface. Create a planting hole and insert each plant. Firm up the soil around it by molding the earth with your hands. Use the spoon and barbeque sticks to help you position plants — this is helpful particularly if the vase’s opening is small.
It’s best not to have the leaves of your plants touch the sides of the vase. Leave some space between plants to promote growth.
9. Feel free to place decorative elements like figurines or rocks.
Maintenance: Check the soil. If it’s dry, spray with water. If your terrarium is closed, air it out once a month and keep the cover off for a day. Don’t over water.