GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - With the first day of Spring just one week away, it's a great time to warm up our green thumbs! Heidi Heiland of Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens joined KARE 11 News @4 and she says anyone can make a terrarium.
According to Heidi, it doesn't take a lot of plant knowledge to create a successful, beautiful display. Terrariums are essentially plants under glass, and modern twists on traditional terrariums have elevated them to an art form.
If you're new to plants, creating a terrarium is a great way to start building a relationship with plants slowly.
Apothecary jars make great terrarium enclosures. Glass bowls or glass cloches are elegant and easy to find. Think of terrariums as a mini greenhouse. Plants that might otherwise be difficult to thrive in a typical dry/wet watering cycle can do well in a terrarium. For example, an orchid surrounded by glass can do very well, and be gorgeous. Recycle a tired houseplant by giving it a new surrounding, or create your own fairy garden design.
Plant Choices for Terrariums
Decide if you prefer a diverse mix of plants, or want to design with a monoculture. Consider the light availability for the placement of your terrarium, and choose plants accordingly. Succulents prefer bright light, and are easy to grow for first-time gardeners. Other plant types will do well in less bright areas. Dwarf plant varieties can be found easily. Many plant types have dwarf counterparts, so search for a favorite plant in its dwarf counterpart.
Here are examples of good succulent and shade plant choices:
• Air Plants, which require no soil and moderate light
• Donkey ears
• Mother of Pearl Senecia
• Dwarf Scilla Violacea, Leopard Lily, from the Cacti family
• Creeping Jenny
• Wire Vine
• Spider Plant
Base Materials, Soil Types & Construction
Glass diminishes the thirst of plants, so using the right base material and soil type helps to ensure success. Plants will be in a moist environment constantly with no drainage, so it is important to create a base with proper drainage, and refrain from over-watering. No feeding is necessary, in order to keep the plants at their dwarf size. Sheet moss can be lined at the bottom and along the sides of the container for small terrarium displays. Here are other construction process tips:
1) Mix 3/8" sized pebbles or a layer of river rocks with horticultural charcoal pieces to create a 2" base at the bottom of the container. The pebbles act as a drainage filter, while the charcoal pieces help to keep the soil fresh and the base from developing an odor. Charcoal pieces can be found at some greenhouses, or at aquarium stores.
2) Add a peat-based soil mix or a terrarium soil mix designed to resist mold on top of the pebble/charcoal base. Install the plants, and tamp the soil firmly. If planting cacti, place an inch of sand on top of the pebble/charcoal base. Level the sand with a small paintbrush. Bamboo tongs or a wooden fork can be useful to manipulate the soil or sand.
3) In larger glass containers for cacti, leave the small plants in their pots, and twist to nestle in the sand. Place larger stones around them for stability. Cover the pots and stones with a second layer of sand in a different color. If desired, a third layer of colored sand can be added with a final layer of quartz or bigger rock.
4) For an easy design technique for a decorative outer edge of the terrarium, use another container, such as a cottage cheese carton, for your soil and plants. Cut the bottom out of the cottage cheese carton. Place at the bottom center of your terrarium. Fill the surrounding area with the rock base and sand. Fill the center container with soil and plants. Remove the carton. The soil and plants will be held in place by the surrounding rock/sand base.
Easy to make and requiring very little maintenance, terrariums are perfect for home or office. As the plants grow, use a gardening shears to trim. Larger plants can be moved to an outdoor container, and the terrarium plants can be switched out with your next new plant idea!
For more information, visit: Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens.
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