planting a terrarium

How to Plant Up a Terrarium

Back in fashion, terrariums are the way to go for indoor décor.

Terrarium Pot Recipe

What you need for your terrarium

  • A glass jar, preferably with a cork or stopper
  • A plastic funnel or a sheet of paper to roll up to form a funnel (or both)
  • Fine gravel
  • Small tumbled pebbles
  • Activated charcoal (Available at pet stores for use in fish tanks. This stops the water from going green)
  • Terrarium tool set (extendable) – available online from www.tanyavisser.com
  • Soil mix of 1 part of each: peat, coconut husk, potting soil
  • Selection of plants – we used Fittonia, Neoregelia and Soleirolia
  • Sphagnum moss

Steps to Plant Your Terrarium

  1. Use the rolled-up paper/funnel to add a layer of the fine gravel about 1.5 – 2cm thick on the bottom of the container. Level it out and add a tumbled pebble layer of the same thickness.
  1. Add a layer, about 1cm thick, of activated charcoal in the same way as the pebbles. Use a terrarium tool to level out.
  1. Add the soil mix layer to 5 – 6cm thick.
  1. Use the terrarium trowel to make a hole in the soil for the first plant.
  1. Unpot the plants and tease out the roots, discarding some of the soil. Drop each plant into a hole and hold the plant with one tool and firm the soil around the plant with the other.
  1. Once the plants are in, add a layer of mulch in the form of the moss.
  1. Water carefully, down the inside of the glass.

Top terrarium tips

Use contrasting colours of gravel and pebbles for a more exciting look
The ideal finished terrarium should be 2/3 empty space and 1/3 planted up
Choose plants that provide different levels in the container: short, tall and medium plants
Don’t add too many plants; leave space for the plants to grow

Terrarium care

Water with a spout watering can along the inside of the glass so that the water reaches the bottom of the container, making it available to the plants’ roots
Position in a well-lit area in the home, but not in direct sunlight
Leave the stopper off the container for the first week to get rid of any condensation. Once there is no more condensation on the sides of the glass, you can replace the stopper and seal the jar.

More about the plants

Fittonia: A low-growing creeper that comes in a variety of different vein colours, including white, pink and green. It requires constant humidity so is ideal for terrariums. Make sure it is never in direct sunlight or the leaves will burn.

Neoregelia: This miniature bromeliad variety is ideal as an indoor plant, either on its own or combined with other plants for contrast. It is small enough for planting in a glass garden.

Soleirolia: Peace-in-the-home is a lush plant that grows well planted with other plants, also functioning as a living mulch. It may need to be trimmed in a terrarium to keep its growth under control.

The Gardener