How to Bring the Outdoors In

As time passes, we’re starting to see a new look on horticulture. Everything is leaning towards a more ‘green’ outlook, physically and economically; foliage arrangements and succulents, eco-friendly cars, green roofs, and going gluten free and organic. This hipster generation is all about owning the next coolest thing before anyone else. We live in a DIY mentality.

“Why should I buy it for $10, when I can make it for $95 in craft supplies!”

One of the greatest aspects of horticulture, no matter the time period, is the ability to bring live plants inside. Studies have shown that work environments with plants placed within them are more pleasant and enjoyable. Interior plants also increase air flow and air quality. Hotels and malls have been doing this for ages, and I know you’ve noticed the plants in a doctor’s office waiting room. Plants make stressful situations relaxing, even by the smallest amount. People are comforted by nature, and that’s what I’m going to show you how to do today: how to bring the outdoors in.


Today I want to give a step-by-step guide on how to build your own terrarium; let’s bring nature inside to you!

STEP 1: Gather your suppliesterrarium-1

You will need:

  • A glass container
  • Rocks for drainage
  • Activated charcoal/carbon
  • Sand (optional)
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Small plants
  • A spoon or shovel
  • Small toys or trinkets for decoration


STEP 2: Pick your pot

This sounds like such a simple task, but there are so many options! It needs to be clear, glass, and clean, but those are about the only restrictions. It can be anything from an old light bulb to a trifle bowl from your kitchen. Be creative! They do make pots specific to terrariums as well, so those are totally great to use as well.

STEP 3: Layer your mediums

You want to create a nice drainage space for your little plants, as well as a sturdy rooting ground.

  1. Start with the rocks; this is so excess water can drain from the soil above. Levels of thickness depend on the size of the container; bigger the pot, the thicker the layer.
  2. Next, is the activated charcoal/carbon. This is for purification purposes – it is known to ward off bacteria, prevent rotting, and lessen odor.
  3. The third layer is the sphagnum moss. You want it to cover the layer of rocks completely so no soil falls into them.
  4. Potting soil goes in after the moss. Make sure to read the bag of your soil to see if it is best used for your chosen plants. There are specific mixtures for cacti and succulents, so be sure to do a little research. Using your spoon or shovel, fill this layer about 2 1/2 inches thick. You want the roots of the plant to be able to take hold and flourish. You can also judge depth by the size of the original pot.


STEP 3: Prepare your plants

Pick out plants that you are going to enjoy! Terrarium plants can be anything – echeveria, cacti, nerve plants, ivies, air plants, earth stars. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Remove your plant from its original container, and dust off the excess soil from its roots.
  2. Use the opposite end of your spoon to poke a small hole into your top soil.
  3. Taller plants should go towards the back of the pot, shorter plants can go toward the front.
  4. Bury the roots into the soil, filling in around the base of the plant to make sure it doesn’t fall over.
  5. The general rule is 1 in² for every plant (6 inch pot, 6 plants)

*PRO TIP: if you are using cactus, try transporting with a paper towel so you don’t get stuck!*

STEP 4: Fill in with sand

After your plants are in place you can fill in around them with sand. This is optional, but succulents and cacti do like sandy soils.

STEP 5: Decorate!

The final step is the opportunity to decorate the inside of your terrarium with extra rocks or little trinkets. You can get creative here, too! Plastic figurines, little toys, doll house fences – all are applicable!


. . . 

I hope you take the time to build your own terrarium, so you, too, can bring a little of the outside in! Let me know what worked for you in the comments below.

xoxo, J


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