While tending my miniature gardens beneath glass yesterday, I also took time to gaze upon some of the new, online offerings from favorite terrarium supplier, Terrain. Think of your terrarium as a tiny conservatory, and tend to its maintenance with as much love as you would any other garden in your care. Although fertilizing most terrarium plants is unnecessary, it’s important that you groom and maintain your plants as you would in any other garden.
Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’ and Begonia ‘Trade Winds’ with Sphagnum moss and Ceramic Ornament in an Apothecary Jar. Terrain is a great online source for terrarium supplies and beautiful, artistic containers.Click here or their image above to visit their website. All content on this site (with noted exceptions) is the property of The Gardener’s Eden Online Journal, and may not be reproduced without written consent. Houseplants can add natural warmth to indoor spaces, particularly those with modern, minimalist designs. Terrariums are a great way to display rainforest tropicals and shade loving plants of all kinds. When designing indoor containers for dimly-lit room, it helps to pay attention to foliage texture and pattern.
All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Many plants will thrive within a moist, humid terrarium environment. In fact some, including many of my favorite orchids, actually perform better in my dry, winter home when contained within glass.
On the other hand many plants, including most alpines, cacti, succulents and herbs, tend to wither and rot in low light and dampness.
A modern interpretation of the classic terrarium: non-traditional, dramatic succulents contained within a delicate glass pedestal bowl.
I created a lovely succulent bowl, similar to the one above, to give as a holiday gift this year.
Of course, before you begin assembling your glass container plantings, there are a few things to keep in mind.
I will be back with more terrarium resources, tips and ideas, as well as other indoor gardening projects soon. I have loved building mini-greenhouses ever since grade school, when they were a big fad with my friends. Creating a basic terrarium is very simple, and it’s a fun project for kids and adults alike. To build a simple terrarium like the one I made, (pictured at the top of this article), begin by locating a clear glass container with a lid. Step one: Purchase pea gravel or aquarium stone, sphagnum moss, (for native plants I also recommend peat moss), and good, dry potting soil, (you can get all of these things at a local home store like Home Depot). Step Three: Add a layer of sphagnum moss, (sometimes called sheet moss), to hold in the soil and retain moisture. Step Four: Add potting soil,(and peat moss if you are planting acid-loving natives like ferns and moss). Step Five: Add bark bits here and there, and wet down the contents of the jar thoroughly with a water-filled spray mister, like the one shown above. This one from Anchor Hocking at Amazon has a more open lip, and the price is a bit lower, ($24.99, free shipping). All content on this site (with noted exceptions) is copyright 2014 Michaela Medina Harlow, The Gardener's Eden. To leave a comment, click any article title and scroll down to the bottom of the page to reveal the hidden form. If it continues, we understand that you accept our privacy policy and Cookies and the terms of use of our Web site. All photos, articles and content on this site (with photos 2, 3 & 4, noted exceptions from Terrain) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). Nothing major is predicted by way of accumulation, but there will likely be a blanket of white covering the ground tomorrow morning. This Peperomia griseo-argentea (Ivy Peperomia) would provides a lovely color-contrast amongst darker leaved species, in a larger-sized terrarium. Be sure to consider the mature size of each species and cultivar you place in your terrarium; especially if you are working within a small apothecary jar or glass cloche. It’s also a fantastic place to get ideas and information about growing plants beneath glass! But if your terrarium is partially open, you will need to monitor the soil’s moisture level more carefully. If you choose to fill your terrarium with plants that require bright light, then your terrarium may be situated closer to windows. Or visit the retailers linked below – all are known for fine garden products and terrariums.
Sleek materials, like stainless steel and glass, are easily enlivened with a touch of green foliage.
Humidity tends to be higher in bathrooms, making this room the perfect place for moisture-seeking plants. Starting with a simple terrarium, such as the native plant design I featured last week, is a good idea if you have never experimented with terrariums before, or if you are working with young children. The tiny moth orchid, (Phalaeonopsis), pictured at the top of this post, ($9 at Home Depot), is happily growing in a mixture of bark and sphagnum moss. But given the right container and growing conditions, some of these plants may be grown in glass planters as well.


Although terrariums disappeared for awhile, I am happy to report that this indoor gardening trend has returned – and with a vengeance !
All you need to begin is a glass jar with a lid, a bag of pea gravel, sphagnum moss, potting soil, a spray-bottle filled with water, and a selection of rocks, bark, sticks and plants.
Collect decorative materials such as stones, bark, twigs, and pine cones from nature or purchase these types of items from a craft store. You can help support the Gardener's Eden, at no additional cost to you, by shopping through the links here. Aren’t these beautiful wardian cases, apothecary jars, glass bubbles and cloches tempting? There are many, many more gorgeous terrarium containers available on the Terrain website (click here). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs.
I love snow, but there’s a long, cold season ahead of us, and I know that soon I will begin pining for the smell of moist, fresh earth. Look up plants online, or consult a knowledgable greenhouse grower to be sure you have the correct information about your plants’ requirements and mature size.
Gardens surrounded by glass should be checked regularly to insure that the soil remains moist, but never soggy. But keep in mind that containers located in bright, sunny spots or near heat-sources should be checked regularly for proper moisture. Remove spent flowers and yellow, withered leaves with scissors or tweezers, and prune plants when necessary to maintain attractive shape. If you follow the yellow arrow in the photo above, you will note a stow-away I discovered on this Begonia. At the first sign of trouble, attack insects and diseases by either treating or carefully removing the infected specimen. In addition, Tovah Martin’s The New Terrarium is both an inspirational and useful resource for terrarium design, construction and maintenance. True, dark rooms can be a challenge for indoor gardening – cactus, herbs and succulents will wither in dank spaces. My tiny first-floor powder room was looking particularly gloomy last week, so I put together an open terrarium in a glass-pedestal bowl.
A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs.
However if you have already had some success with basic terrariums and houseplants, and you want to experiment with more unusual tropical plants or something a bit more challenging, you may be ready to move on to some less-typical interpretations of this indoor display method.
Of course, more exacting personalities might argue that wide-mouthed, glass pedestal bowls do not technically qualify as a terrariums.
I selected a glass pedestal bowl intended for fruit display, ($9 at Target), and lined the bottom and sides with polished black stone, both for practical drainage and decorative drama.
If you provide a plant with what it wants and needs, odds are much better that it will reward you with lasting beauty and long life. Together with a gift certificate from a local greenhouse, either of these books would make an unexpected, much appreciated gift for novice and expert gardeners alike. Holiday conservatories, filled with birch bark, native moss, ferns and partridge berry look particularly lovely centered on a dining table or grouped together on a mantel. You can find these at most department and craft store, or order them through the various links below.
For my native terrarium, I added club moss,(Lycopodium), partridge berry, (Mitchella), and a forest moss called Dicranella. Photos and text published here may not be used, reposted or reproduced in any form without prior written consent. Interested in creating a basic, low-maintenance terrarium for your home, dorm, school or office? With gorgeous metal and glass construction, this terrarium is always the center of attention, even when filled with a simple display of moss and ferns! Of course most living things have needs, and a bit of care is required in order to keep all plants, including those enclosed inside a terrarium, healthy and beautiful. The riskiest season for terrariums tends to be summer, when it tends to be hotter and brighter indoors.
If one or more of the plants becomes too large for a small terrarium, remove it and place it in a larger case or container. If your terrarium is large enough, insecticidal soap, horticultural oils and other treatments may be applied directly to the plants contained within, but in most cases, the safest and best course of action is to remove the plant.
But filtered light will support many beautiful foliage plants, such as ferns and moss, and a few blooming tropicals, (including African violets, begonias and orchids). This wasn’t an expensive project, in fact the total cost, including both plants and glass bowl, came to $16.
They may be made of solid glass, acrylic or plastic, or they can be combined with other materials, such as wood or steel.
I encourage you to expand on these old-fashioned definitions, and to explore the concept of the modern terrarium. Some of us have friends and family members working in city high rises, crowded into sterile offices or lifeless cubicles.
If you are planting your first terrarium, or if you are working with school-aged children, I recommend starting with simple containers or jars. I also scattered tiny pine cones and birch bark in the jar to make the woodsy scene more realistic. Planting a miniature garden beneath glass is a great rainy-day project; especially good for entertaining a group of restless kids.


Cases and jars containing ferns, moss, and other forest-floor plants can be located in dimly lit rooms (see an example of a low-light terrarium here). And if a plant should begin to fail, or die, extract it immediately to avoid the spread of disease. On days like this, with thick, low clouds and no sunshine to be found, low-light rooms inside the house can seem particularly dark.
This terrarium, (pictured in my bathroom in the photo at top), includes maidenhair fern, (Adiantum), calathea, (C.
Colored veining, bold stripes and splotches, and tonal variation are all things to look for in plants. Elevated humidity is provided by a tall, wide glass vase, (found at Target for $12), which holds water and reduces evaporation.
Designing a terrarium or glass planter is no different from any other garden design project. With the surge in terrarium popularity, you might think that keeping plants beneath glass is a new idea. If you are making a holiday gift, or feeling more adventurous, then by all means get more creative with antique apothecary jars, glass cake domes, or specialty terrarium containers. If you are interested in licensing images or other content, please see contact information in the page at left. Click here to find my previous tutorial post with a step-by-step guide to basic terrarium building and visit the Indoor Eden page for more advanced terrarium ideas and other projects by clicking here.
Many of my houseplants prefer humid conditions, and in a dry house heated with a wood-burning stove, it’s difficult to meet their requirements. If the container receives uneven light, occasionally rotate your terrarium in order to prevent lopsided growth. Even the sunniest of homes usually have a few shadowy spaces, and although the hard metal finishes in modern bathrooms, and cool-colored interior walls may sparkle on sunny days, in the dead-of winter, this kind of decor can leave you cold. However, wood-stoves and dry heating-systems can make for a challenging house-plant environment.
Begonia, viola, peperomia, calathea and pilea are all easy to come by in greenhouses, and offer a wide range of foliage color and texture.
I have seen absolutely stunning, miniature conservatories made from recycled or even antique glass containers, and I have been amazed by more modern, architectural terrariums constructed from sheets of clear acrylic.
Color, texture, shape, structural density and form always come into play when designing with plants.
A few years back a friend of mine gave a magical, mist-covered terrarium as a birthday gift to a mutual acquaintance.
The books I mentioned in my previous post (below) can help with the general care of houseplants the very-useful, What’s Wrong With My Plant? I like to use ferns to lighten-up the look of a terrarium, (particularly the maidenhair ferns), and mosses of all kinds add a velvety touch to a glass container.
Some designers like to add tiny collectibles, such as doll furniture or figurines to their designs.
This gorgeous garden-behind-glass, filled with ferns and moss, inspired me to create one for a nature-lover I know; one sadly trapped inside a concrete jungle. The Victorians were particularly elaborate, designing exquisite table-top greenhouses and free-standing conservatories in miniature, (usually fashioned from plate glass and forged iron). You can go wild with all kinds of plants from African violets and orchids to exotic ferns and moss. Glass-houses, even tiny ones, hold moisture and increase the humidity in the terrarium’s micro-climate. Glass balls, mirrors, prisms and other sparkly details can also help to catch light and reflect color in a dark space. Other creative adornments might include itty-bitty flower pots, toy cars, prisms or glass balls.
These days, we are seeing everything from itty-bitty, hanging glass-globe-gardens to enormous, sculptural terrariums; masterful works of art and horticultural science. Although open-bowl planters require more attention than closed, cloche-style or Wardian case terrariums, they have a few advantages. I love the contrast of these thick-fleshed, colorful plants against the clear, delicate glass. Begonias, and certain other plants, can sometimes suffer from mold in an excessively moist, closed terrarium.
Since my sister has a new baby to care for, I wanted to give her a relatively easy-to-care for gift.
Naturally, your choices are limited by a wide variety of situational conditions and circumstances; including plant availability, budget, design, mature specimen size in relation to container, as well as ease of maintenance. The trio of plants is softened by the trailing, delicate beauty of variegated elephant bush, (Portulacaria afra variegata). There are also cultural requirements to consider; a few of which include humidity preferences, drainage and soil structure and chemistry. Perhaps stalwarts of terrarium design will brush this combination off as merely a conventional planting. But I think this modern terrarium-hybrid lies somewhere between, and defies hard-line definitions.



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