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The Fun and Easy Way to Make a Terrarium

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Photo left by Miri Talabac. Right right by Larry Hurley, taken at the 2007 Philadelphia Flower Show.

During the holiday season, I saw glassware in many shapes and  sizes; cake and cupcake holders, large vases, cloches, bowls and stands – in home stores and in my own home!  All of them can be used as terrariums or dish gardens (I will call them all terrariums, but technically, terrariums are closed on top and dish gardens are open.)

Imagine a small footed-glass cupcake keeper with a beautiful African violet, a cake keeper with a delicate maidenhair fern, or a large glass cloche with a gorgeous orchid (“Beauty and the Beast” anyone?).  Imagine a tabletop with three lovely cake keepers of different heights and different plants.  Sorry, that is cheating…I saw it in Martha Stewart’s magazine.

You can create a miniature world in a large terrarium using multiple plants, unusual stones, small figurines, shells, fairy gardening supplies or ….. Only size and your imagination are the limits.

Most plants can be used in terrariums.  Recently, I worked with a lovely customer to put together a “dry” terrarium using small succulents and cactus.  She added small ceramic animals and stones. Adorable!

Miri Terrarium
Photo by Miri Talabac.

How to Make a Terrarium

It is an easy and fun project and the results can be whimsical or elegant – you decide, and I can help.  After you select a container, the most important step is to select plants that require the same amount of light and water.  You would not want to plant an African violet with a cactus – one would surely die.   This is where I come in.  Bring in your container and we can play.

The recipe for terrariums is easy.  Use small pebbles for the bottom-most layer.  Sprinkle a small amount of charcoal over the pebbles.  Next, use a piece of landscape fabric to keep the soil from mixing with the pebbles. Then add a layer of soil thick enough to accommodate the plants you are adding.  Take the plants out of their pots and remove some of the soil – you want to make the root ball as shallow as possible.

Add more soil around the plants as needed.  Finish it off with something to personalize the planting – a small figurine, a shell, a stone or anything else that makes it special to you.  Water sparingly and place out of direct sunlight.  If you are putting the terrarium on the windowsill in direct sunshine, place a small stick between the side and the top to keep the top open.

I am happy to help you with this easy project that adds beauty to your home.

See you in the greenhouse.

by Sherri, Houseplant Manager of our Potomac store.

Stephanie Fleming

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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