As I mentioned before, I made a lot of goals for 2012… a lot. However my main goal is to make 2012 my most creative and craftiest year yet, a goal which includes only making the presents I give people this year – not just for Christmas, all year. A rather lofty goal that, admittedly, I didn’t really consider in detail before fully committing myself to… but I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, so here we go! (wish me luck)
My sister was up first. She’s not the easiest person to buy (or in this case, make) for, but nor is she the hardest – so luckily, a good person to start with. She recently moved in to a new apartment and had mentioned that it didn’t really feel very ‘homey’ yet… and what’s a better housewarming present than a plant? Answer: a terrarium!
I have been admiring terrariums on pinterest (yes, pinterest strikes again) and in one of my favourite books for project inspiration Design*Sponge at Home, so I was happy to get the opportunity to make one! Although, as it seems with all DIY projects that I undertake these days, it was not as straightforward as I thought it would be… sigh.
In theory, it’s pretty simple; all you need is a big glass container, some small rocks or gravel, charcoal, potting soil and plants. Here’s a little diagram I did to show you the order they go in…
See, seems pretty straightforward right?
Don’t worry, it is. There are just a few things to keep in mind…
* don’t use beach rocks – I had this brilliant idea that I was going to embrace the west coast and use rocks from a local Vancouver beach. I spent at least an hour picking out interesting rocks and carefully considering how they would go together and look in the container. I was all excited… until my mom pointed out that the salt from the seawater drenched rocks would kill the plants. Oh. Crap. Luckily, she pointed out that I could boil the rocks to rid them the salt. Not that it did me any good…
* don’t use rocks that are too big – after boiling the rocks, I realized that they were too big. They took up too much space in the terrarium and the charcoal fell through the spaces between rocks to the bottom of the container. The rocks I used were still perhaps a bit big because as you can see above, some of the charcoal still managed to make it’s way down the sides. I’m guessing a way to solve this would be to use gravel or, as the Design*Sponge book recommended, small broken shells. I kind of prefer the pebbles, so I’m willing to overlook a bit of charcoal sneaking down the sides.
* don’t buy plants that are too big – an empty container seems much bigger than when it is actually filled with rocks and soil. So do yourself a favour and measure your container (height and width) before you buy your plants. It would also be a good idea to take a little tape measurer with you when you go to buy the plants – this way you can arrange them as you’d like to plant them and see if it will work before you spend money on non-returnable plants. I didn’t do this and ended up buying plants that when planted together were way to big for the container. I ended up only buying one new plant and using the asparagus fern, even though it stuck out a bit over the top of the container, because it was just so cute!
In the end, the plants I ended up using were the asparagus fern (the tall guy there at the back), the polkadot plant (the pink and green one) and a plant I can’t remember the name of (oops!) but it’s one that will spread out and grow to cover the dirt. Different levels and textures make your terrarium more interesting.
There are lots of different kinds of terrariums you can make, along with different plants, containers and decorations you can use to make the terrarium your own unique little indoor garden. One thing I really want to tackle soon is a succulent terrarium. It’s a bit different than the one I made, but here is a great post I found about how to make one from the BirdHouse Blog. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the varieties of terrariums, so consider this blog post a jumping off point -
However, a few more things I can tell right now you are:
*choose plants with similar light, moisture and environmental needs – succulents and cacti won’t mesh too well with ferns, ivy or other plants that like more moisture. Also, succulents and cacti need more sandy soil.
* don’t place your terrarium in direct sunlight – it will burn your little plants! If you have a closed terrarium (which, by the way, apparently don’t need watering) direct sunlight will overheat and kill your plants. Terrariums definitely need light (photosynthesis and all that jazz) but a general rule they do best when the light is diffused or filtered. Design*Sponge at Home recommends leaving a newly planted terrarium in the shade for about a week and then adjusting the light according to the plants’ requirements. (note to self: share this fact with sister)
* plants should continue to be scaled to the size of the container – even after you’ve picked out the perfect plants you still have to work to prevent overcrowding. This includes: pruning back plants as they grow bigger, clipping and removing dead leaves, and if need be, removing those plants that just won’t stay in check and become too big.
* add some decoration! Pretty stones, moss, pinecones, sticks… or a cute little deer!
I also put a little baby deer (or fawn as some might say) in amongst the foliage, since you can never have too much cuteness right? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to buy the deer in time to take pictures of the terrarium with it – thank goodness for instagram though! It also allowed me to snap a triumphant picture of the terrarium just as I finished it (a very proud moment – especially after the overly large rocks and plants debacle!)
You can see all my instagram photos here if you like :)
Have you made a terrarium before or are you hoping to make one soon? I’d love to hear your experiences, so please feel free to share!