February 6, 2012

Terrarium Tips

I'm not pretending to be an expert on terrariums
but I have learned some interesting tips on making
terrariums since I attempted a few for my
entry at the January Magazine Copy Cat Challenge.
I thought you might like to make a terrarium too as
a way to bring the outside in during the winter months.

This is the photo that I originally tried to copy
in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
The expert inviewed for this article is Tovah Martin.  She shared good ideas for making terrariums.
I couldn't find the original article online but here is a link in which she shares good plants to put in terrariums.

Another place for good basic instructions is
the E-How Terrarium Video by Willi Galloway.

Here are my favorite tips I gleaned from those sources:

Start with a clean, clear glass container that is big
enough to get your hand down inside of.  Put a layer
of pebbles in the bottom of your container for drainage.

Put a 1/2 inch layer of horticultural charcoal on top
of the pebbles to keep the moist soil smelling "sweet".

Add 2-3 inches of light potting soil such as African violet mix.
Try not to get soil on the sides of the containers.
Tamp it down to remove air pockets.

Dwarf plants that like low light and high humidity are best
for terriariums. Select plants that have the same growing
requirements to go in the same container.
I was able to find tiny pots of plants at a local nursery.  
(Disregard the big tattered fern in the background...it is staying outside.) 
 The orchid in the photo above was purchased to try 
to mimick the picture in the magazine.

Make a planting pocket in the soil with your finger.
Remove the plant from its pot.  Remove some of the
soil from around the roots to make is easier to plant.
Set the plant in and firm the soil around it being
sure to cover the roots.

After the plant is in the container, you might break a leaf
or stem if you have to put your hand down inside.
Here are some "tools" to help to garden from above.

A funnel made from paper and tape is helpful to get more 
soil down near the base of the plants without getting the
  soil on the sides of the container or the tops of the leaves.

A paintbrush is useful for getting any soil off of the
 leaves and the sides of the container.

Use a cork on a bamboo skewer to tamp down soil.

After planting, use a watering can with a
 long spout to spot water each plant.

Tovah says that misters make more a mess 
than they moisten the soil.

Water an open terrarium when the soil looks dry...
about every 7-10 days. 

A closed terrarium can usually go for two weeks
 between waterings.

If too much condensation forms, give terrarium less light
or open the top a little for a few hours.

The NUMBER ONE reason that terrariums fail is
The plants thrive in a terrarium with almost no help from
outside their little world.  That's why they are great for
folks that don't have a lot of time to care for house plants.

You can add decorative elements to your terrarium
such as pebbles or stones...


...and decorative objects. 

Succulent terrariums only need watering every two weeks
so they are good for very busy people.

Here are some tips for succulent terrariums:
Be sure to use a container that has a wide opening to prevent accumulation of moisture.

Put two inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.

Use fast draining soil to plant succulents in then add a layer of sand.

Give 5-6 hours of sunlight a day.

Water every two weeks. Water should drain to bottom of container and there should not be more than an inch of water in the gravel.

So what started as a copy cat challenge project...

...evolved into even more terrariums for my Winter garden.

My favorite new one is the planting under the cloche.

Its base is a terra cotta saucer with soil, plants, mosses
and stones added to fit within the confines of the glass dome.

I enjoyed adding pebbles and mosses to the terrariums to give them a little more color and interest.


  1. These are great tips. I am glad you enjoyed the challenge and you learned something and passed it on to us.

  2. Thank you for showing us how well yours are doing. I want to try this and will be back to read your tips again and go to the places you suggested.

  3. These are all lovely! What a great tutorial.

  4. How pretty is that!! I love your terrariums, but I'm with you...I love the cloche one too!!

  5. Thank you for stopping by...I can't wait to see how you will do a canvas....I love how you Kopy Kat...Blessings, Becky

  6. Your terrariums look fantastic! I love the natural element they add to a room. I want to make my own, but I am nervous I will kill the plants. Thanks for all of the great tips. I am pinning for future reference.

  7. I love terrariums and was all set to make some but couldn't find plants around these parts! Love yours and your tutorial!!! XO Cindy

  8. So pretty, I love these. I have tried this before but had bad luck, so thank you for the tips maybe I will give it a go again.

  9. LOve these!! thanks for sharing on make it monday! :)

    I've shared your link on the Brassy Apple FB page!

  10. Hopping over from Grits and Glamour's Wild About Mother Nature...beautiful terrariums..Love your tutorial!

  11. Thanks for all these wonderful tips! I wish I'd seen this before I attempted a terrarium last fall. After seeing your post, I see I made so many mistakes. No wonder my terrarium soon had mold growing all over it. Yes, I threw everything it it away and cleaned the container well. I love the look of them, so maybe if I tried again someday with your tips, I'd be more successful at keeping mine alive.

    Thanks for sharing this great post at my party. I appreciate your visit very much!

  12. I saw a post on a cute terrarium and showed it to my husband and he immediately went out to the back yard and found a small glass bowl, some little green plants growing in the yard and lo and behold I now have an adorable terrarium on my kitchen table. Love it lots!! Jan

  13. This is awesome. I love the way yours turned out. Great tip about using a funnel to get the dirt to the bottom. Very nice containers too.

  14. I found this post on Cowgirl Up's link party.
    I can remember terrariums being popular when I was in college back in the early 70s. They are so beautiful and I loved your step-by-step tips.

  15. Great tips, Pam. It's been so many years since I've had a terrarium and I'm anxious to do another. Although I have containers to do them in already, I once had the most fabulous container that I had a terrarium in. Who knows what happened to it...now it's really missed!

  16. Beautiful!! I was just telling my hubby I wanted to make a terrarium!! Thanks for the awesome tips.

    I'm your newest follower!! I'm so glad you stopped by and left me a sweet comment!!

  17. Love these and I shared them on Cedar Hill Ranch's FB page.

  18. I love your post. I use to do terrariums many years ago. Now that we have a sunroom, I think I should give them a try again. I am going to bookmark your post, so that I will have a great reference.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

  19. This is so beautiful! I love terrariums but never tried making one. This is so informative and I love how you gave step by step instructions.... the pictures are really helpful. Thanks for all the tips and for your sweet comment on my Winter White vignette. Have a wonderful evening!Hugs~Poppy


  20. Really pretty, there's something magical about a mini-landscape in a terrarium. Little Bit from DecorateWithaLittleBit.com p.s. I'm pinning this.

  21. Making terrariums is one of my favorite things to do! I get so excited when I come across a big jar or bowl...haha...I like to use the mini hoyas and mini orchids but will have to try the plants you showed.

    Thanks for sharing,

  22. Terrariums were so big back in the sixties and seventies, glad to see they are back. Yours are GORGEOUS. I have a few scattered about, time to fluff them up, I think. Great tips. Thanks.

  23. This is fantastic! It's my next project! Pinned it and tweeted!

  24. Hi Miss Kitty,

    Your terrariums are fantastic!!!

    I have always wanted to make one.


  25. Great info! I love terrariums...especially this time of year, when I want more "living" things around!

    Going to FB this tonight! Thanks for linking it up!

    @ Creatively Living

  26. These are incredible...just stunning! Would LOVE for you to link up to our "uncommonly Yours" link party!


  27. These are so pretty, I like them all! I read the Better Homes article but wasn't inspired to try this until your post, thanks for sharing and the inspiration.

  28. these are just gorgeous. my only experience with terraniums (terrania?) is when I was little, I had a little pet water turtle who lived in a terranium. His name was Lump. :) This post is so inspiring. I'm just starting to try to get organized for my garden this year, and this is helping!

  29. Hi again Miss Kitty-

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Just wanted to dropy by again to say congrats.....your post was chosen as one of the "Saturday Picks" from the Your Cozy Home Party. You were featured on my blog today.

    If you haven't already, you're welcome to check it out and if you'd like take the feature button for your sidebar or feature page.

    Thanks again for sharing your wonderful tips with us!

  30. Great tutorial Miss Kitty! I'll be featuring tomorrow night at Project Queen's Highlight Party. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'll be making some of these VERY soon.


  31. I'm loving this too! Thanks for sharing at my party!!! Happy Valentine's Day!!! XO, Aimee

  32. These are so pretty and I have been wanting to make a couple. Thanks for sharing this info at Wow.

  33. LOVED THIS! Great tutorial.. can't wait to try one! Following you now and can't wait to see what else you do!

  34. Wow, I love this. I've been wanting to do some terrariums. I had to pretty much get rid of all my indoor "real" plants because we have an older cat that eats any kind of plant I have tried. And a lot of plants are poisen. She actually chews on the leaves of fake plants too but it doesn't seem to hurt her. OK, so she's not very bright, but she's sweet. I thought a terrarium would be the perfect solution and this post was very helpful. Thanks!

  35. You did a great job recreating the terrariums you saw in the magazine! The paper funnel is a clever trick and will definitely be very useful! It keeps the soil away from places they shouldn’t be in. Great choice of plants as well, and that orchid is really pretty.

    Jamie Keifer

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Hi, I was just wondering if the orchid actually survived being planted in soil? I was given an orchid for a gift and from online info, knew that they like high moisture. However, it's really dry where I am, so I thought to look up how to make a terrarium for it. But also from online, I saw that they prefer high aeration potting media such as bark and/or coconut husk. Is your orchid still healthy and blooming?

  38. I'm not pretending to be an expert on terrariums. but I have learned ... eterrarium.blogspot.com

  39. the E-How Terrarium Video by Willi Galloway. Here are my favorite tips I gleaned from those sources: Start with a clean, clear glass container ... terrariumcontainers.blogspot.com

  40. Thank you it was very helpful all your tips. I am just starting with my own terrariums.

  41. Thank you very much for sharing all these tips with us!!
    Best regards.

  42. I'm sure going to use your tips!

    Thank you!

  43. First off HELLOOOOO u are soooo beautiful!!! Wow! I admire beauty. 🤩I never leave comments as a rule BUT in your case I really wanted to BECAUSE- I loved how u explained so well. I love plants 🪴 a lot and I love terrariums bUT
    People go on and on and I can’t understand half of what they’re trying to say 🤪. Thank you for ur wonderful words. And I was wondering what that long metal thing was!! What a great idea the cork on the skewer!! 💥God bless !


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