Terrariums easy peasy

Something as simple as an air plant can tuck into a terrarium and brighten a spot. Air plants are easy. Simply dunk them in water once a week, and shake off so no water sits in the crevice of the leaves, and replace in the terrarium. Bright, indirect light is the best place. Too much direct light will draw out moisture. Remember these are in a glass environment which increases the heat.

Terrariums are a creative way to while away the winter while waiting for spring. The fun part? Anything goes. Closed or open terrariums, air plant terrariums, succulent terrariums, fern terrariums or fairy garden terrariums. Add surprising elements to your enclosed garden like bridges or pebbles for pathways, small cottages and swings, or go natural with twigs and moss. It's a garden enclosed in glass that captivates our imaginations. So, let's get started. 

A quick how-to on Terrariums

Succulent terrarium with moss. Open air for better circulation. Take the top off the terrarium once a month to prevent too much moisture for the succulents.

  1. Pick your container. Do you want closed or open? If you love your succulents, go with open. They need air circulation and less humidity, or they will rot. If you love that sealed-off, secret world of closed terrariums, then choose plants that can survive in a higher humidity. Also, consider the location for your garden. Near the heat registers? Near a west facing window, or an east one? Succulents love the direct sun, ferns love indirect light. 
  2. Gather your materials. You need potting mix (unless you're doing air plants), sand, charcoal, moss, colorful rocks, plants, and any additional fun items you want to add.
  3. Sand, colorful rocks and moss are for aesthetics. The sand and rocks can be layered in first to add interest, or to top of the design. These layers can be like lasagna. Layer as deeply as you want, with as many layers as you want, for interest. Then layer in the charcoal. Charcoal is used for two things: Purification and reservoir. Purification is for the smell, the reservoir will hold the water. The charcoal is a necessity. The third layer is the potting mix, but before adding it, place a coffee filter between the charcoal and the mix. This avoids the inevitable trickling down of the soil into bottom layers. The brown recycled coffee filters are great for this.   

This enclosed terrarium is a self-sustaining environment. It should not need watering, but if you see condensation build up on the glass, it's time to open the roof and allow it to air out, drying out a bit.

If you're pressed for time, and don't have a super green thumb, air plant terrariums are an easy and fun one to try.

4. Pick your plants and plant! For enclosed terrariums use ferns that like high humidity and add pileas, strawberry begonias, peperomia, fittonia, and others. For succulents choose hens and chicks, small jades, echeverias, and more. The choices are insane with succulents, there are so many.  (We have terrarium plants located at the back of the store.) 
5. Add moss, pebbles, or sand to cover. Then get fun. Add gnomes like above, or twigs and sticks, form a pathway with small flat stones. Get creative and make the enclosure interesting.
6. Watering: Enclosed terrarium rarely, if ever, need watering. If you see condensation increasing on the glass, it's best to remove the lid and let it air out for a few days. It is likely too wet. For your succulent terrariums less is best with watering. The soil should dry out completely between watering. The idea is that terrariums are self sustaining. After the initial work, it's pure enjoyment.
7. Location. For succulents pick a sunny window, they prefer more direct sun. Please remember that the glass doubles the heat and even succulents can fry. For your enclosed terrariums a bright, indirect light (east facing) window is best. 

We have all the supplies you need and all the help. So get creative. Winter doesn't have to be plant-free. Enjoy! 

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, blog writer, sales staff for BB Barns Garden Center.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.