How To Make a Terrarium

Every personal space, whether it be in the office or at home, needs something extra to make it feel alive and cozy. You can either add a photo frame here, a personal calendar there, or an artificial plant in the corner; or you can add something more “alive” if you want to -- a terrarium.

Terrariums are a great way to bring life to your tiny cubbyhole in the office, or a bare space at home. They are very easy and inexpensive to make. Basically, all you need is a clear container, sand, pebbles, gravel, activated charcoal, potting soil, plants, and decorative elements. 

  1. The first step to making a terrarium is to select a clear container. Anything can be used as the home of your terrarium as long as it is clear. Popular choices include a fishbowl, an empty aquarium, or any large glass container. You can also use dishes, soda bottles, wine glasses, and glass jars. Of course, your container of choice will depend on whether you want to create an open-air terrarium, or a closed environment terrarium.
  2. Once you have selected your container, the next step is to create a drainage layer for your terrarium. This is important because it will ensure that your plants will thrive inside your terrarium. You can use pebbles, sand and gravel to make the drainage layer. Adding activated charcoal is also recommended, especially if you are making a closed environment terrarium. The charcoal will filter the air and keep it fresh. Activated charcoal can be bought at any pet shop that sells aquarium supplies.
  3. You may also opt to add sphagnum moss on top of your drainage layer. Why? The sphagnum moss will prevent the soil from falling through the cracks in your drainage layer once you start watering the plants. You can also use a very fine screen as an alternative to sphagnum moss. However, this will need to be replaced as it will rust over time.
  4. Now that we're done with the drainage layer, the next step is to add the potting soil. Any potting soil will do. Just make sure that the potting soil you are using is fresh. You can buy this at any garden store. A world of caution though: if you are planning on creating a desert terrarium, make sure to pick the right potting soil for such plants.
  5. Now, you are ready to add plants to your terrarium. Do not just put any plant you want. Create a theme for your terrarium. If you like the tropics, then you can use tropical plants like African violets. For a desert feel, you can use cacti and other succulents. 
  6. Once you have decided on a theme, do not put the plants in just yet. Think how you want your terrarium to look. Here is where your artistic side comes in. You can sketch a design, or you can try arranging the plants inside the container to see which layout appeals to you the most. Once you have found the perfect lay out, then you can start adding your plants in the terrarium. After planting them in, do not forget to water them a little.

That's it. Your terrarium is done. Now all you have to do is maintain it.


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