Take your green thumb indoors and create the perfect terrarium
As temperatures dip and our fall gardens start to gracefully expire for the season, we’re drawn indoors to cocoon for the winter. However, that doesn’t mean that our green thumbs have to hibernate, too. Terrariums are a great way to introduce some plant life and design flair to a room.
Terrariums are mini gardens grown in glass vessels. Sometimes they’re completely closed in, with mini tropical plants flourishing in the humidity, but they can also have an opening, which can expand the selection of plants you can choose from.
It’s pretty easy to create a terrarium on a weekend afternoon when you’re cooped up indoors. Maria Colletti first started planting in glass containers about six or seven years ago for the New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG) store where she works.
“We had so many interesting glass vases and containers for home decor that it occurred to me they might look more spectacular if they were planted with tropical foliage plants,” she says.
Colletti was ahead of a trend that has exploded in recent years with retailers offering terrarium products, plants, ideas and even classes. Colletti provides some inspiration of her own in her new book called Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass.
The most popular design at the NYBG Shop is a terrarium with a lid.
“This reflects a true terrarium: A closed ecosystem that feeds, waters and cares for itself,” Colletti explains. The store carries a wide variety of containers to choose from, including octagonal or classic fish bowls, and apothecary jars.
When buying the soil, look for your standard houseplant potting mix.
Colletti’s best piece of advice is to use a barrier between hard ingredients of gravel, stones or bark, and soil or sand. This could be a layer of biodegradable paper or landscape fabric. “The purpose is to keep each layer you add, one on top of the other, from sifting below into the one before it,” she says.
Once you’ve added these materials to your container, figure out how you will arrange the plants before you start to gently add them in.
Seasonal elements, such as faux birds’ nests, figure into Colletti’s designs, but she says her favourite challenge is incorporating actual garden design and landscape architecture elements in miniature that copy the real thing.
Be sure to keep an eye on your finished terrarium and its moisture levels to avoid mould or fungus from growing.
Edited on 6 December 2017