How To Create Terrarium Gardens

No need to brave cold winter winds when you can create a tiny, beautiful terrarium garden indoors.

Create a Tabletop Terrarium
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Peek through the glass to see a little magic—vibrant color guaranteed to brighten winter's gray light. To make a terrarium, choose a glass container with an opening wide enough for your hand. Gently add an inch or two of washed, fine gravel. Top gravel with a thin layer of activated aquarium carbon. (You'll find both items at your local pet store.) Next, add moistened potting soil, and you'll be ready to plant. Create a collection of plants, or showcase just one. Good choices include ferns, succulents, mosses, miniature moth orchids, African violets, and kalanchoes. Allow room for growth by starting with the smallest plants available. Place your terrarium in diffused light, using a cork pad to protect the surface underneath. Because your container has no drainage holes, be sure not to overwater.

Editor's tip: Water with a turkey baster to get just the right amount of moisture to your plants. As they grow, trim the foliage when needed.

Create a Terrarium Without Soil!

Group an assortment of air plants (Tillandsia sp.) for the easiest care. They naturally grow on branches and rocks, so no soil is needed. There are lots to choose from in silvers, greens, pinks, and reds.

Setting up a Terrarium

Choose a glass container. Add a layer of washed fine gravel. Include a piece of driftwood, a few larger rocks, or a piece of bark in your display. Mix in an assortment of air plants arranged however you like.

Caring for your Terrarium

Remove plants to water about once a week. Soak in a bowl filled with bottled or filtered water for a half hour. Remove plants, shake, and let dry. Then place them back in your container.

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