Perfect For The Plant Lover!

A terrarium is a miniature enclosed garden. If carefully planted with suitable materials, it will remain attractive for many months.
Diane Relf

Make your terrarium woodland or tropical
You will need only a few healthy, small specimens, as you do not want the plants to out grow the container too fast. For a woodland terrarium, use mosses, ferns, and seedling evergreens not more than 4 or 5 inches tall. Partridgeberry plants also add interest. Small weathered rocks with lichens attached, bark or twigs, tiny hemlock cones, acorns and empty snail shells create a natural effect in a woodland scene,

For a tropical terrarium, small dracaenas and table palms from your garden center work well. Cutting from such houseplants as philodendron, Devil's Ivy, Swedish Ivy, spider plant and tradescantia can be started right in the terrarium. All of these plants will outgrow smaller terrariums with in a few months but can then be potted into larger containers. The Firefern (Oxalis hedysaroides rubra) with deep-red leaves, is one of my favorites for a large terrarium. A few flowering plants that I have had success with in terrariums are miniature African violets, miniature streptocarpus and achimenes.

Wash container to avoid plant diseases
To start, thoroughly wash your container to make sure you will not have any disease organisms in it. Dry the container completely so that soil will not stick to the sides. Place a layer of small stones about an inch or more for larger terrariums in the bottom for drainage. Add a thin layer of activated charcoal (purchased from the garden section of your store) to absorb gases and prevent souring of the soil.

Next, add a layer of soil mixture composed of equal parts of clean sand and shredded peat moss to a depth of about one third of the container. If the layer of soil is too deep, the plants appear crowded in the top. Slope the soil from the back gently toward the front to make a more interesting display.

Set any plants with roots, starting with the largest first, and then add unrooted cuttings if you are using them. Avoid using too many plants, as they will out grow the container too fast. Firm the soil gently around these plants with your fingers or a long handled tool if working in a narrow mouth bottle. Work moss around the base of the plants, then add any extra decorative features such as stones, bark, tiny cones, or, if you are inclined, figurines. Do not clutter your terrarium with too much material.

Add water carefully -- Not too much
Water your plants lightly with a bulb sprayer. While it is important to add enough water, remember that it will be easier to add more later than to remove any, so do not over water. Watch for water to begin to drain into the layer of stones in the bottom of the terrarium. Stop watering as soon as you see any water. Put on a cover and tape in place, if needed. Place your terrarium in a cool, bright location, out of direct sunlight.

Watch the surface of the glass or plastic to see how much water forms on it. The water that is transpired by the plants will condense as droplets on the surface and run back into the soil. If the entire surface is covered with heavy droplets, it has been over watered. Remove the cover for a few hours to allow the terrarium to dry out. If no water has condensed, it is too dry and should be watered carefully. The terrarium may need to be watered only every month or so depending of the tightness of seal.

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