Terrariums are entire ecosystems that stay alive and thrive in teeny, tiny spaces. They also have this ethereal quality that makes them seem more like living sculptures than a basic layering of rocks, sand and plants inside a container. The terrarium trend isn’t going away anytime soon, which is great news for our Neighbors looking to scratch a gardening itch with minimum space or effort required. DIY terrariums are super low-maintenance, easy to design and almost impossible to mess up. Here’s what you need to know before you dig in:
Know your layers: Terrarium plants aren’t so finicky, but you’ve got to set them up for success. Start with a layer of pea gravel, rocks or glass; something chunky that lets plant roots get some drainage. Then, add some activated charcoal, which will keep mold and bacteria at bay. Add some potting soil and anchor your plant selection making sure the roots have room for coverage. Finally, top with moss or pebbles.
Pick a container: Any home store will have a lidded apothecary jar for less than $20, but one reason why DIY terrariums are crazy popular is because you can make them out of almost anything. You can make a mini terrarium out of a votive candle. Repurpose some vintage kitchenalia like a spice jar or syrup dispenser. We’ve even seen easy terrariums made in cake stands, fish bowls and upcycled glass bottles.
Plants to look for: Some terrarium plants fare better than others. Succulent varieties are usually a good path to DIY terrarium success, but you can branch out to other options, too. See if you can find African violets, cacti, Irish or Scottish moss, Swedish ivy, strawberry begonias or polka dot plants to work into your collection. Look for variety of shape, color and texture and give yourself permission to play around with placement before it’s all set.
How to take care: If your apartment terrarium has a lid, you’ll need very little to no water keep it up. Depending on the size, we’re talking a matter of a tablespoon or two to get started, because it recycles its own water in there. If you made a DIY terrarium in an open container, you can still go weeks or months without any attention. Be sure to keep them out of direct light and prune them if they get too big and start to touch the glass.
Add some accents:DIY terrariums are inherently kind of whimsical. Don’t be afraid to go all in with that. Throw in something fun and unexpected. Wouldn’t it be a little bit fun to stick a tiny toy dinosaur in among the tiny plants? Then make them look giant by comparison? Or a fairy stopping by for a visit? DIY terrariums are also nice places to display little rocks, shells or natural mementos that have a special sentiment.
The brown thumb: Terrariums may be easy to build and maintain, but not everybody has a green thumb. We feel you. That’s why we found a tutorial from Endlessly Inspired for how to make a faux terrarium with secret succulents that you’ll never, ever have to water.