There is a magical time that lasts about an hour, when my apartment gets a great amount of sunlight. Other than that, its not dark but its also not light. This is a common problem for city-dwellers and as a result of my spotty sunlight, I have had some very sad plant experiences. Perhaps the worst one was when I bought a beautiful fiddle-leaf fig and then watched in horror as it lost each and every one of its leaves. So, today I am exploring one way that those of us with limited light can still enjoy greenery in our homes. Terrariums!
Terrariums are self-sufficient eco-systems that can exist in any number of enclosed, glass containers. It’s like your own personal bio dome (minus Pauly Shore). Not only are terrariums really interesting decorative objects, they are very easy to maintain. Once you get one started, you just have to mist it with water every couple of weeks. And as long as you use low-light plants, you won’t need a ton of sunlight. Oh, and did I mention that they are really fun to make!?
Here is what you need to make a terrarium:
- small rocks, pebbles or gravel
- potting soil
- activated charcoal/activated carbon (helps keep things fresh)
- sheet moss
- a glass container with a lid
- a spray bottle
- skewers or chop sticks (to help you position items)
- any additional plants you want to include
- any toys or figurines you might want to use
A word on acquiring these supplies
If you live in a city like New York, getting all of these items can be a bit of a treasure hunt. Stores like Home Depot or Lowes should have the pebbles, potting soil and sheet moss (or you can dig up some moss from the park). The activated charcoal/activated carbon is a bit trickier. Your best bet is to go to a pet store. Activated carbon is used to keep fish tanks clean, so pet stores usually carry some form of this. And for the glass container, you can use anything you want – from an old pasta sauce jar to something fancier. Fishs Eddie has a lot of nice mason jars and many different kinds of glass containers for reasonable prices.
Another thing about buying these supplies, is that you will probably end up with a large quantity of some materials. I had a couple of people over to make terrariums with me. This was a nice little craft get together and it was a good way to use up some of the supplies. There are also a few vendors on Etsy that sell Terrarium kits. This is probably the easiest way to get your hands on the supplies if you don’t feel like running around the city and acquiring a large quantity of rocks and dirt.
Now, here are the instructions:
- In your glass container, add a layer of pebbles, followed by a layer of activated carbon, then potting soil and finally a layer of sheet moss.
- Next, you can either add additional plants or you can add some decorative items…like a neon plastic dinosaur!
- Once you have landscaped your terrarium, mist it with water (a spray bottle is the best way to do this) and put the lid on the container. Make sure you get everything moist when you mist your landscape. You should see the terrarium begin to fog up once you put the lid on.
Ideally, your terrarium should alternate from being misty to being clear from day to day. If you notice that it isn’t misting, you probably need to add more water and if the terrarium is never clear, take the lid off and let some of the moisture evaporate.
And that’s it! Now go to town!
Here are some pics from the terrarium madness that took place at my apartment over the weekend: