Winter Garden Terrariums

When I was a child, I was fascinated by a gift my parents received from some of their best friends in Los Angeles. In the later 70’s, the Gangi’s gifted my parents with a living terrarium. I don’t know if I was more mesmerized by the miniature plants or the fact that the globe shaped bowl of organisms survived and thrived for more years than I can count.

Fast forward to today. I am still fascinated with terrariums. And, apparently, I’m not alone.

The New York Times recently ran an article about the resurgence of these miniature gardens and said, “Part of the appeal of building a basic terrarium is that it does not require a great deal of gardening know-how. While regular house plants can demand considerable attention, terrariums offer a bit of nature — and the sense of calm it can confer — in a contained, easy-to-care-for way. And once a closed terrarium reaches a state of equilibrium, in which there is neither too much moisture in the container nor too little, it can more or less sustain itself.”

It must be the winter, or the cold and dank Northwest days, but every year around this time I start planning to visit conservatories and greenhouses. While I thrive in our wetter, cooler coastal weather, another part of me loves to breath a warm, moist air. Fortunately, in Seattle, we have a number of choices, one of those is the Volunteer Park Conservatory with its amazing array of orchids, ferns, palms, and other exotic plants. If you haven’t visited, do it on a rainy day … it is most revitalizing, but stay clear of the giant Venus Fly Trap!

But if you’re not close to the conservatory or Molbak’s in Seattle or Al’s in Portland, create your own micro environment, otherwise known as a terrarium, for a little bit of green on those cold and bleak winter days.

I created my first terrarium this afternoon and was surprised at how simple and rewarding it was. I can tell you, I already have plans for bathroom terrariums, bedroom terrariums, well, I better stop there!

Great Idea: I noticed that Molbak’s was teaching a kids gardening club on creating terrariums in glass Mason jars … what a wonderful idea for a rainy Saturday … and a lesson on microbiology as well.
What you need:

A glass container
Assortment of indoor, miniature plants
Potting Mix
Gravel or Pebbles
Horticultural Charcoal

Layer into your glass container 1/4 to 1/2 inch Horticultural charcoal, 1/2 inch gravel or small pebbles and 2 inches or so of potting mix. Create pockets for your plants, water until the soil is moistened. Place your terrarium in bright but indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight for maximum performance.

I also was told to mist my plants several times a week and choose plants with similar environmental needs.
For more in depth instructions, this is a great site to visit: Sprout Home in Chicago and New York.

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