Creating a Terrarium

A terrarium is a miniature garden that is aesthetically pleasing and soothing. Creating your own terrarium is not only good for your mental health, but it brings greenery and tranquillity to your indoor space. Along with giving the kids a positive and productive project, the construction of a living element for your home has other medicinal benefits as well. Plants can help you sleep better at night, they reduce anxiety and stress, and they can mop up pollutants in the air.

When creating a terrarium, you can use up a lot of materials that you have around the house, such as jam or coffee jars, old platters, champagne glasses, interesting bowls, gravel from the garden, and all-purpose potting mix. Or go all out and purchase some beautiful containers, polished rocks, and fancy miniature decorations online. You can make terrariums as gifts for friends and family, or keep them for yourself.

Basic steps for creating a terrarium

  1. Choose your container.
  2. Put some medium-size gravel in the bottom of the container. This will help with drainage as there is no hole for water to escape. If you have a wood heater you could crush some charcoal and add it to the gravel.
  3. Place a layer of potting mix on top of the gravel. For interest, you could make it sit higher at the back.
    Make a hole in the potting mix and put in your plants — succulent cuttings can go straight in — or small ferns etc.
  4. Decorate with interesting rocks, small gravel or stones (like in an aquarium), mossy sticks, gum nuts, glass beads, LEGO figurines or tiny toys, or shells. A lot of miniature animals and decorations can be found online at reasonable prices, or Op Shops are fantastic places to find interesting stuff once we’re allowed out again.

You can be as creative as you like! Make a fairy garden, rain forest, or an air plant garden – the only limit is your imagination (and what will fit in your container).

Troubleshooting

  • Don’t put your garden in direct sunlight. A bright location with indirect sun is ideal.
  • Don’ t put them too close to your heat source/s.
  • Overwatering can be an issue, due to limited drainage. You can use a spray bottle and spray a stream of water directly onto each plant weekly, or when the soil feels dry.
  • It is ok to prune, change and pull plants out — just the same as your outside garden — if you don’t like how your terrarium is growing.
  • If a plant dies, pull it out and plant another that may be more suited to a terrarium. It’s all part of the fun!

Sourcing materials

All of the materials required to create these fun and amazing tiny gardens (including fake moss and gorgeous Japanese lanterns, animals, and lady bird beetles) are available online for very little money. And, half the fun will be waiting for the parcels and packages to arrive so you can get stuck in.

You can also pillage your old jewellery box for treasures to brighten up your magic garden.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a green thumb, then a devious and very rewarding miniature garden can be made using some of the stunning artificial plants available. Of course, they can be put straight into ornamental gravel decorated as above and won’t need watering. You don’t need to tell anyone!

Resources

There are many youtube videos available to help you and the kids get started. Some are more technical than others, but here are some suggestions:
How to Make a Terrarium - DIY at Bunnings, opens a new window
DIY Succulent Terrarium Ideas, opens a new window
DIY : Succulent Plant Terrarium, opens a new window

Here at YPRL, we also have some helpful books below, to give you inspiration and ideas which will hopefully be available to put on hold soon.

Tess Barker, Yarra Plenty Regional Library

Miniature Gardens

Terrarium

Terrariums

Modern Terrarium Studio

Miniscapes

RHS Minature Garden Grower

Bring the Outside in

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