HOW TO PLANT A TERRARIUM
Want a terrarium but not sure which plants to choose or how to care for it? Paul Holt, creative director of award winning North One Garden Centre, gives his master tips for planting and caring for a terrarium. Over to you Paul...
Miniature gardens encased in glass, terrariums are an elegant way to bring snippets of low-maintenance nature indoors. Assembling a terrarium can take minute, making it the perfect weekend project.
What to put in your terrarium
Fill your terrarium with as much or as little as you wish. Choose plants such as succulents, cacti, tropical plants and traditional ferns. Also use moss, gravel or stones. Air plants are the latest fad for indoor gardeners. These charming little plants require no more than a weekly spray of tepid water and a sunny position.
There are many small and slow growing topical plants available for terrariums, although you might want to plant quicker growing species as you can then change the terrariums more often. Cacti will grow slowly but will require a very light position.
Perfect plants for your terrarium:
We sell a wide variety of young, miniature tropical species which include:
Small bromeliads such a Catopsis, Neorgelia ‘Fireball’and Vrisea
Ferns varieties such as Adiantum, Nephrolepsis and Pteris varieties
Tropical foliage plants such as Dizygotheca, Alocasia, Syngonium and Fittonia
Minature varieties of Orchids such as Phalenopsis, Tolmina, and Paphiopedilum
Certain varieties of Carnivorous plants: Nepenthes will do well in a large closed terrarium but Sarracenia and venus fly traps are better in an open-top terrarium.
A step-by-step guide to planting
1. Start by making sure that your terrarium is clean to allow maximum light to get through to your plants. If you are re-planting a new display, wash out any old soil to stop contamination from fungus and disease.
2. Now add gravel - a couple of centimetres deep should be enough.
3. Next add a good quality potting soil. Houseplant compost is ideal for tropical plants or use Cacti compost for succulents and cacti. Air plants need no potting mix at all.
4. If your terrarium is big enough to allow your hand inside then you can add the compost and plant in the usual way. Remove the plant from its plastic pot and make a hole deep enough to take the whole of the plant’s root ball. Then add compost so that all of the roots are covered with soil. If you can’t get your hand inside then you can make mini terrarium tools by adding small sticks to eating forks to extend the handles. You can then reach inside easily to plant.
5. Once you have finished planting, lightly water the plants to settle them in.
6. Finally, wipe off any dirt on the sides of your terrarium.
Style tips for your terrarium
When the plants are in, you can then think about a adding some more interest to your miniature garden. You can add moss, fossils, rocks, driftwood, shells, skulls or even little figurines (great for children!). Adding natural items like logs can sometimes encourage fungus so avoid these if you can.
For a vintage look, position reclaimed items such as old bottles or books next to your terrarium. For something more modern, keep everything clean and simple – less is most definitely more.
Positioning and looking after your terrarium
A closed terrarium will recycle its own moisture, so will need only occasional watering. Too much condensation on the glass may mean you need to let the garden dry out a little bit, while no condensation might mean you have to add a little more water.
If your terrarium is open you will have to water more frequently. Keep the soil moist, unless you are growing cacti and succulents, which prefer a little drying out between watering. Mist air plants weekly during Spring and Summer, but a little less in colder months.A soak in tepid water once a fortnight for a few hours would also benefit your air plants. Leave to drain before placing back the terrarium.
Feeding your terrarium is not usually necessary.
Position your terrarium in a warm and bright position out of directsunlight (unless it contains cacti, succulents or air plants which will tolerate full sun).
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