Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Mini World: Creating your own Terrarium

If you are like me, you fall in love with most things that come in a mini size. After all, most things are cuter when tiny; puppies, cupcakes, mini spatulas, baby toms and uggs, tiny play kitchens, and the list goes on. But a mini garden… this sounded absolutely enchanting to me! Obviously, you can see why I fell in love with the new craze for terrariums! It’s a mini living world growing inside a glass container. And need I mention, for those of you with a black thumb similar to mine, the promise that these hearty plants only need watering every couple weeks?! 

The amazing terrariums at high end nurseries can get quite pricey. Although making my terrarium cost more than I was expecting, it was still way cheaper than buying one, it was  tons of fun designing, and it turned out completely unique. If you are not sure this is the craft for you, search for pictures of terrariums online or go to a nursery and you will instantly fall in love and be inspired to design your own mini world in a glass! I promise!

A glass container- You can find very unique looking glass terrarium vessels at various stores or I just bought a large candle holder for $2 at world market. Even though a lid would look neat, moisture will accumulate on the inside of the glass, so go for one with an open top.

Activated charcoal- Some pet stores sell it in the fish department.  I found a nursery that sold me 1 cup for $1 (Thanks Mel’s!) My chemistry expert sister Bridget explained that the charcoal gives off nitrogen, which helps with air filtration which is very good for the soil.

Rocks/Pebbles- I biked down to the river to collect some nice smooth river rocks.
Collecting river rocks (yes its dark and yes I'm wearing a helmet!)
Cactus soil- You can buy this or just mix equal parts potting soil with sand.

Sand- Another ingredient I biked to the river to get, you can  take some from a park.

Decoration- I had a sea shell that I wanted to showcase but then I also found some neat moss that I included.

Succulents- Shop around. I didn’t have any luck at Home Depot; they just had outdoor hen and chicks. I bought my succulents at a nursery with a neat selection. But, then I went to another nursery to get the charcoal and found that they had succulents that were even smaller; too bad. Succulents typically run from $3-5/plant. Be sure to bring your glass container with you for sizing. Otherwise, you will do what I did, and think that you can fit way more plants than you can.

Kitchen spoons and a straw
My assorted supplies on the porch ready for creation time!
Make any of your layers thicker or thinner depending on the size of your container and how high you want your plants. I was hoping to be able to see the different layers better in my container, but I did my layers pretty skinny so that the entire plant would be encased in the glass.

The order of your layers is charcoal, rocks, soil, and then your succulents. Tuck your succulents into the soil by digging a small hole for the plant and then loosening the root ball once you remove it from the plastic pot. You can either put some little pebbles on the top layer or some sand or just stick to the soil as your topping. Then you can add any decorations such as seashells, pine cones, moss, or other knickknacks.
Looking down inside the terrarium
Terrarium tips:
-When putting your charcoal, soil, or sand in, do small bits at a time with a spoon so that you don’t get the inside edges of the glass dirty. Hand place rocks for the same reason.
-Once it is complete, use your straw to blow sand or dirt off your plants. This way you don’t blow the sand into your face but you get plants cleaned off. You can also use your straw to blow a neat wind swept look into your sand. I also dipped my straw in a cup of water to water my plants without watering the entire terrarium.
-Don’t put a lid on your terrarium as it will get very warm inside, baking the plant and causing condensation.
-Keep your terrarium in a location that is sure to get some sunshine.

The fun thing that I like about the terrarium is there is so much room for creativity. You can make yours look like whatever you imagine. I think that next I want to try is to make mini terrariums in a jam jar or in a bottle! I’ll keep you posted on my creations.  Keep me posted on yours!

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