Learning Center


Terrarium How-To!

If you are looking for a new way to bring in the Spring, consider a newly redisovered, on-trend terrarium!  Start by choosing a container; the best ones are clear and enclosed.  The Good Earth has some really fun ones with wooden balls to seal in the moisture and ones that hang on fun thick ropes.  However, they can be as simple as a cider jug, or a cake cover on a glass pedestal.   Of course, the larger the opening, the easier it is to make!

After you choose your container, use a funnel to put ½ inch of pea gravel in the bottom for excess water to settle in, separated from the soil and plant roots.  You want to create a well-drained area so the plants stay healthy. It’s a good idea to put a thin layer of activated charcoal on top of the gravel, which will act as a purifying layer. Next, put a layer of sterile soil-less mix such as Ferti-lome Ultimate Potting Mix, appropriately moistened for the chosen plants.  If you want to be extra careful, you can sterilize the soil by putting it in the oven for 15 minutes or so at 200 degrees to kill any pathogens. Use the funnel for to help you direct the materials and to help keep the debris off the sides of the container.  If you end up getting some stuff on the inside glass sides of your container, just spritz them off when you water, or if you can get your hand in, you can wipe it down.

When it comes to picking plants, choose plants that have similar water needs, just like you would for a regular container garden. If you choose succulents, you may only want to water them 1 or 2 times per month.  The moisture from evaporation will keep the soil at an optimum temperature for quite a while.  If you choose more water loving plants like ferns and moss, our suggestion is to water every week.  If in doubt, err on the side of dry because once its in there, you can’t get it out!  Some great terrarium plants would be small pileas, pepperomias, club mosses, and table ferns.

If the container has a large enough opening for your hand, you can do it all with one hand and a spoon as a tool.  If you are questioning whether your hand really fits or not, go with not!  No need to create a medical emergency.  Like all projects, advance planning is helpful.  Visualize how you would like the terrarium to look when it is complete before you get the plants and accessories in the container.  If the opening is narrow, use a long bamboo stick to maneuver the elements around, dig holes, and tamp the soil down.

Even if the plants are sun loving succulents, don’t put them in a southern exposure window; the greenhouse effect will cause some leaf burning!  For the more sun loving plants, put them in a west exposure window, and for the ferns and mosses, place them in an eastern exposure area.  Normal house temperatures will be wonderful for the terrariums, and they can also go outside.  If you do choose to put them outside on a patio table as a centerpiece, just be sure they are protected from the sun like under a covered porch.

Then it’s just all about accessories!  You can gather little bark pieces, branches, stones and river gravel and place them around in the terrarium to create a natural look.  Pea gravel creates a nice path, and layered thin rocks give the appearance of a nature rock outcropping.  The Good Earth has some cute little pretend bugs and fairy garden furniture to complete the look.  Don’t forget that you are trying to create a controlled, self-sustaining ecosystem that is low care.  You want it to be beautiful, full of life!

If you need ideas on how to get started, check out our photos on Facebook, thegoodearthgarden.lab5.matmon.com or come by The Good Earth Garden Center at 15601 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, AR  72223.