Terrariums - they had me at "hello."
I've always loved these miniature worlds-in-a-jar, and I finally got around to making one myself! I thought I'd share the instructions with you in case you would like to make one too...
You will need:
- A large glass container - I used an apothecary jar that I found for a very reasonable price at Ross. If you would like to use humidity-loving plants, choose a container with a lid; if you would like to use dry-loving plants, choose one without a lid. It should be deep enough to include the layers of soil plus the height of the plants. You'll also want something with a wide mouth so that your hands and plants will fit inside easily. You can get creative here - apothecary jars work well, but you could also use a large mason jar, glass canisters, a lantern, or even an old gumball machine!
- Small pebbles, marbles, or those glass droplet things - these arent' really going to be seen, so don't spend a lot of money here. I used some small rocks I found in our driveway. If you use rocks you found outside, be sure to wash them in order to kill any mold or fungus growing on them. I soaked mine in bleach water, then rinsed them thoroughly. I chose fairly smooth rocks in order to keep them from scratching the glass. You'll need about an inch of pebbles as your first layer.
- Plain charcoal - you can find this at a garden store. I found some in the aquarium section at Wal-Mart. You'll add a layer of this on top of the rocks. The charcoal acts as a filter so that the water in your terrarium doesn't become stagnant.
- Potting soil - this goes on top of the charcoal. You'll need enough to cover the bases of your plants - probably 2-3 inches.
- Terrarium-friendly plants - This is up to you, but you'll need to choose things that don't mind humidity if your container has a lid. If you are using an open container, succulents work well. Since mine has a lid, I chose a tiny little fern, a polka-dot plant, and some moss. If you're not sure what to use, ask someone at a garden center to recommend some terrarium-friendly plant varieties to you. Once you have finished planting everything, you can use a straw filled with water to rinse any stray potting soil off the sides of the glass. (Stick the straw into a tall glass of water, seal the end with your finger, aim, then release onto sides of jar.)
- Embellishments - this is the fun part... You are creating a miniature world, so this is your chance to get really creative! Add a doll-house-sized park bench, a pebble pathway, and lamp post to create a miniature garden; a tiny bird house; a terracotta snail; some plastic dinosaurs - whatever! You could even create an "empty tomb" with some small rocks and use it as an Easter centerpiece. Just make sure that whatever you use can handle the moisture - stay away from metal items that might rust or porous items that might mildew. Check at hobby shops for miniatures intended for doll houses or model trains, or borrow some of your kids' small toys. You can also make your own - I used some Sculpey clay and created my own little bunny...
Sculpey is great stuff - it stays soft until you bake it, and it comes in a variety of colors. I used plain white, and then I used some watered-down brown acrylic paint to "antique" it after baking. I then sealed it with a clear, matte varnish to inhibit mold.
- Once you get it all arranged to your liking, add a shot-glass of water and your lid if you're using one, then place in an area that receives indirect sunlight. You'll want to avoid direct sunlight, since the glass will cause the plants to overheat. I've read that you should water it about once a month, but I would just keep an eye on it and use your best judgment. You don't want your plants to get soggy, but they shouldn't get too dry either. Ask at the garden center for recommendations for your specific plant varieties.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial! Sorry I didn't do step-by-step photos - I got so involved in making it that I forgot to pick up my camera... But it's very simple to make, and lots of fun! This would be a great project to do with your kids. And as you can see, it makes a lovely centerpiece for spring... (or anytime, really).
If you decide to try to make your own terrarium, please take some photos and send me the link! I'd love to see them!
Have a lovely weekend.... thanks for reading.