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Making a Terrarium

Hold onto your gardening hats, folks! Remember terrariums? A new trend revitalizing the old style is now better than ever. Creating a theme is easier too, with fairy, gnome and other accessories. Remember those skinny-necked bottles and what a hassle they were? New container styles make it easier to plant, simple to maintain and more beautiful in your home. Here’s the scoop:

What is your terrarium’s style? Tropical with ferns, arid with cacti, or tiny grasses and water-like pebbles? Will you have figures such as fairies or gnomes? To choose the plants, consider the lighting where you plan to place the terrarium. If your gnome home is to be in the corner, consider using a cute fluorescent light.

Container Shape
Choose your container and ensure it has enough room for your completed dream. Clear glass allows views of different layers of sand, soil and top dressing. Container shapes include hanging, footed, cylindrical, spherical, even leaning. If your garden includes tropical plants, consider a container with a smaller opening or a lid to increase humidity. The gift store has a wide assortment.

How to Plant

  1. Put an inch or two of small gravel, pebbles or expanded clay pellets into the container, providing a drainage base. Mixing in several tablespoons of horticultural charcoal prevents odors. If the container is large enough, layer other colors or sizes of pebbles or sands to create visual interest when viewed from the side.
  2. Soil goes in next. Many plants grow well in light soils mixed with peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. Moistened coir is another option. Alternatively, consider special prepared soil mixes for African violets or cacti.
  3. Create a “landscape” plan by first arranging the plants on the tabletop to determine where they will be placed in the container.
  4. Plant the largest plant first. Dig a small hole, place the plant, and firmly tamp the soil around it. This is very important to stabilize the plants and remove air pockets.
  5. After placing the plants, you may want to top-dress with decorative pebbles or bark. Sand looks great around cacti. This is also the time to place fairies, cottages, twigs, larger stones and other decorative items to create the desired theme.
  6. When everything looks good (look at it from all sides), use a small artist brush to clean the sides and leaves.
  7. Use a mister to water the plants. Because the container acts as a small biosphere and much of the moisture is recycled, a little water lasts for quite awhile. Do not overwater.

Place your terrarium in its new location and enjoy its beauty and your accomplishment!

Western Garden Nursery

2756 Vineyard Ave.
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Phone: 925-462-1760

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Store Hours

Monday – Saturday
9:00am – 5:30pm
10:00am – 4:30pm

Closed Thursday, July 4