Monday, January 11, 2010

Terrific Terrariums

I do alright with my terrace gardening, but I seem to have a real brown thumb when it comes to houseplants. For some reason, I can't ever seem to find the right balance of sun and water for my little green friends, and they tend to either end up shriveled and crispy or soggy and limp. For a while I gave up and was just sticking with cut flowers, since I didn't feel so bad when they croaked. But that gets expensive, and I money doesn't grow on trees (and even if it did, I probably wouldn't be able to keep my money tree alive, and that would really be depressing). So, I rethought my strategy, and I'm now in the market for fool-proof easy-care indoor plants. I've had luck with orchids, but you can only have so many in your house without it starting to look like you've modeled your decor after some eccentric's greenhouse. I've spotted beautiful, charming terrariums in a lot of places, and I did a little research, and found out that, if you build them properly, they practically take care of themselves. That's my kind of gardening.

Here are the fool-proof (take it from the fool herself) and super-dooper easy instructions for how to build your own terrarium.

1. Gather your materials: you will need gravel or pebbles, charcoal or carbon, potting soil, moss, and small plants. I bought the pebbles and carbon at the pet store (in the aquarium section), and the potting soil, moss, and most of the plants at the garden center. I also picked up a couple of small plants at the pet store in the reptile section (they tend to have a lot of appropriately small ones there). You may have to rehydrate the moss- just soak it in water and it will perk right up. You will also need a glass vessel to build your terrarium in. The three I made used an apothecary jar (above left) from Michael's, a trifle dish from Williams-Sonoma, and a simple Ball jar.

2. Put about a 1" layer of gravel or pebbles in the bottom of your vessel- this provides drainage so the plants don't sit in too much water (since the vessel doesn't have drain holes).

3. Place a thin layer of carbon over the pebbles. This filters any impurities from inside the glass, and will keep the environment healthy and clean. This is especially important if you are using a closed vessel.

4. Place a layer of potting soil over the carbon. You will need at least 1", and the stones, carbon and potting soil together should fill the vessel up about 1/3 of the way.

5. Inspect your plants carefully for bugs and dead leaves, and remove them, as any decay will be detrimental to your little ecosystem. Plant them in the potting soil. If you can't fit your hand into the vessel, you can use salad tongs to gently arrange your plants.

6. Cover the dirt around the plants with small pieces of moss. The tongs can come in handy here, too.

7. Use a spray bottle to dampen the plants' leaves and the moss. Do not over water- a little goes a long way in a closed environment. Use a paper towel to wipe any dirt off of the sides of the glass.

8. Put the cover on the vessel (if it has one). Open up the vessel and spray it with water once a week or so, or whenever the moss starts to look like it's getting dried out. Remove any dead plant material that you notice. If your vessel doesn't have a lid, you will need to monitor the moss, and water more frequently. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy an indoor garden that even a fool can't ruin.

1 comment:

Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

Very neat!! I'm not so good with indoor plants either, but I've been successful with our bamboo, aloe vera, and cactus! They don't require much water, and they're lovely and green all year. :)