By Mitsi Chorak

When it’s too cold to garden outdoors, what could be better than applying your skills to an indoor pursuit?  Design and create a Terrarium!  You can still get your hands dirty, and have the joy of creating something beautiful to brighten these dreary days.

A terrarium is an open or closed glass vessel containing plants and soil to create a mini ecosystem. Containers can be fish bowls, aquariums, jars or a brandy snifter. To make a terrarium you will need a container wide enough at the top to reach into.  Use a closed container for humidity-loving plants and a bowl-shaped container for cactus and succulents (these do not have to be glass). 

To begin: 

1.  Carefully place 1-2 inches of pebbles at the bottom for drainage

2.  Sprinkle a 1-inch layer of activated charcoal over pebbles to filter soil

3.  Add 2 inches of damp potting soil

4.  Add your plants!  Allow room around each plant and use the smallest plants available to allow for growth.  Plant like with like—do not mix fern with cactus, and do not mix low-light plants with high-light ones.  Remember that it may be viewed from all sides and allow for this when planting.  Some good plant choices include ferns, orchids, spiderwort, polka dot plant, moss, baby tears, violets, and cactus, such as sedum, dwarf agave, and hens and chicks.  

Have fun with your design!  Create a mini landscape that you would love to step into:

fairy gardens, woodland scenes, or tropical (these are humidity loving, so water lightly and mist).  Desert scenes (these require very little moisture, mist occasionally).  There are many things you can use to create each scene:  fairy houses, bridges, shells, branches, moss, bark, seedpods, animals, and all are easy to find!

Place your terrarium in indirect light, and be sure not to overwater, I have found that a turkey baster is perfect for watering.  As your plants grow, trim the foliage as needed.

Be creative, have fun, and enjoy!

Miniature and dwarf plants can be found at local nurseries, Lowes, Home Depot or on Amazon.  Miniature landscape items are available at Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Big Lots.

Mitsi Chorak is a Lake Lure Flowering Bridge committee member.