“Helping You Find Plants That Work”
by Ana Morlier
Good day, readers! How has your indoor plant adventuring gone since last month? While conditions outside are constantly fluctuating, now is a great time to experiment with indoor plants, both as decor and practicality (being a great boost to mental health). Discovering indoor plant varieties will take you to a variety of independent greenhouses, open year-round, or your local home-improvement stores. Plus, you’ll find plenty of deals on plants that have suffered neglect at the hands of their caretakers. One of the most fun and intricate projects I recommend during this time is creating a Pinterest-worthy and enchanting terrarium! Whether you choose to add a bit of magic with fairies and miniature figures and furniture or keep a regal, yet earthy, tone with just plants is up to you. Here is what you’ll need to know about this stunning, organic centerpiece!
Drainage layer. Drainage holes on traditional pots are difficult to come by with fancy glass pots or containers, typical of terrariums. It also may let in unwanted pests. Some typical fillings include rocks, aquarium gravel, and sea glass. Try for a color scheme, like bright, cool colors, which will be visible from the glass container.
Filter/separation layer. Catches excess moisture before the drainage layer. It also helps keep the drainage layer retain its color, separating it from the soil layer.
Charcoal Layer (optional). If you’re using a closed terrarium, this can be handy for preventing harmful bacteria and thus, odor. Charcoal specifically for terrariums can be found at pet stores and nurseries.
Soil layer. Any soil can be used, including potting, succulent, and regular soil, just as long as it fits the needs of your plant. If your terrarium is exclusively air plants, you can stick to just a drainage layer and add plants on top.
Decorative layer. Where the fun begins! Add plants, sculptures, moss, miniatures, or whatever suits your vision!
Avoid fast-growing plants, as they can crowd your terrarium and prevent other plants from receiving sunlight.
Try using dwarf plants for a more fairy-like scene.
Choose plants that prefer humidity, as the rock layer will catch moisture and humidify closed containers. Succulents only belong in open containers.
Choose a container that has a wide opening so you can add the various layers and change out plants, in the case of withering.
Open containers are less likely to have problems with bacteria and fungus compared to closed containers.
Some affordable terrariums include goldfish bowls, aquarium bowls, mason jars, glass cookie jars, and even plastic containers.
More specialty containers include Wardian cases (looks like the glass version of a dollhouse), which may be more costly; cold frames, a classic bell jar (looks like the container that held the rose in Beauty and the Beast); and apothecary jars.
There will most likely be a terrarium or at least a dwarf plant section at your local greenhouse. While not the case for large-scale businesses like Lowes, specialty stores like the Dutch Plant Farm (on Baughman’s Lane in Frederick) will have sections with displays and brochures about how to make a terrarium just right for you with available plants. Always feel free to ask an employee when in doubt about plant location in the store or what resources to buy for your terrarium!
Open the lid of closed containers once a month, and leave it off until the condensation disappears, then place it back on top.
Remove/prune yellow or damaged leaves regularly. Do not fertilize.
Terrarium Plant Recommendations (all require bright to medium indirect light with regular watering)
Polka dot plant: Its pastel-pink coloration adds a mystical, yet whimsical, pop of color to your terrarium. Perfect for emphasizing the fantastical environment.
Baby tears: This extremely leafy plant looks like a mini-bush with a fairy-like scale.
Croton: Also adds a pop of color, though with darker tones and warm colors of orange, yellow, and red. You can find it in a range of colors and leaf sizes.
Ferns: Autumn (red-orange for a warm color scheme), woodland (the image you conjure up when you think of a fern; shiny, dark green leaves), button (small dot-sized leaves).
Pilea (sometimes called “pancake plant,” with bright green, round leaves).
Moss is the best thing to happen to your terrarium! It can be placed anywhere and will not compete for space with other plants. As long as there is high humidity, you’ll only need to water it lightly or so that it stays moist to some degree. It hates chlorine and other chemicals, so use rainwater or distilled water. Water evenly, which can be done with a spray bottle. Moss also prefers indirect light.
Acapporus moss grows in clumps, such as cushion or mood moss. It’s good for filling up areas that are difficult to grow or place plants.
Pleurocarpus moss grows in sheets, such as fern moss, and sheet moss.
Sphagnum moss is great for adding to a red color scheme.
You can use moss from outdoors, but, more likely than not, it’ll be used to cold temperatures and might hate being in a terrarium. If you’re dead set on outdoor moss, keep your terrarium in the coldest room of your house, and place plants comfortable with cold temperatures with the moss.
And there you have it, one terrarium recipe ready to go! This can be a great activity with children, as they can help you plan out your terrarium. Devise a color scheme, fairy scene (that can be adjusted to your child’s imagination), and arrange a watering schedule. It’s best to use a spray bottle, both for the plants to get just enough water and for children to develop fine motor skills while using the bottle. May this project bring you some luck and magic! Ádh mór (best of luck)!
Want to re-read any of my old articles? Visit https://crazyplantladybanner.weebly.com/ for archived articles or to suggest topics for me to write about.
Credit to: Kerry Michaels, Debra Lagattuta, and Jessica Wrubel from The Spruce; Dan from Terrarium Tribe, Taysha Murtaugh from Country Living, and The Dutch Plant Farm of Frederick.