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DIY Terrarium: When You Need More Plants in Your Life

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If you don't get out into nature as much as you’d like, you can always bring nature to you. Create a terrarium. Terrariums are glass-enclosed mini gardens, natural indoor décor that require minimal maintenance once planted. Whether you need some peaceful scenery for your work desk, a decorative planter for your home or a pick-me-up gift for a friend, terrariums are an easy way to bring fresh natural beauty inside.

First, you’ll need to decide whether you want an open or closed terrarium. This may depend on the kind of jar you have, but it will dictate the type of plants that you can grow inside. Buy your plants at a reputable shop that will give you a refund if they die within a year, and choose miniature varieties that won’t outgrow the terrarium.

OPEN terrariums require slightly more maintenance (water 1-2 times per week and mist once per day) and can stand up to brighter light. In open terrariums, use cacti and succulents such as aloe, jade, sedum (burro’s tail), hens and chicks, hawthoria or earth stars.

CLOSED terrariums just need to be misted daily and almost never need watering. Use moss to cover the ground in closed terrariums, and complement with ferns, schefflera, baby’s tears and other low-light plants.


1 clear glass jar or container
Pebbles or small rocks
Potting soil
Activated charcoal
Sand of different colors *optional
Small plants, moss, ferns & flowers
Landscaping decor


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From the Organic Authority Files

1. Find a container. You’ll want to use a clear glass jar or container that has an opening big enough for your hand. It can be as small as an up-cycled spaghetti sauce jar, or as big as a large aquarium. Upright jars work well, and you can also look for oddball shapes of containers. You may be able to find a neat jar in your recycling bin, or hobby stores will sell a large variety. Be sure to wash your container out well before you begin.

2. Start solid. Fill the bottom of your container with about one inch of pebbles or small rocks. This helps the soil to drain, and also prevents stagnation in your terrarium. You can also use broken pottery pieces, seashells or marbles.

3. Charcoal first. Place a thin layer of activated (or crushed) charcoal on your rocks to help keep your terrarium fresh from mold.

4. Sand second. Although you can skip this step and go right to the dirt, a few thin layers of different colored sand below your potting soil creates a pretty striped effect.

5. Get dirty. Put a thicker layer of organic potting soil on top of your sand. Pat it down gently until your container is about 1/3 full.

6. Add your plants, starting with the largest first. Dig small holes where each plant will go, then nestle it gently into place. Pat down the soil around each plant, and don’t crowd things too tightly. You want to save room for décor.

7. Decorate! Let your style shine as you adorn your little green world with landscaping elements: crystals, toys, figurines, pinecones, seashells, pretty rocks, small pieces of driftwood, miniature gnomes or aquarium décor. You may find it helpful to use your chopsticks or a small funnel to position the pieces in place.

8. Maintain. Keep your terrarium out of direct sunlight and don’t place it next to the heater. Water regularly, remove any dead plants and your terrarium should bring you peace and beauty for many years to come.

Image: pinprick

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