Terrarium Photo: Handyman
A terrarium can be created in less than an hour and provides an easy-to-control environment for cultivating a range of plants indoors.
The transparent glass of the container lets in light and when the lid of the container is closed it functions like a biosphere, becoming warm and more humid, sealing in moisture and reducing the amount of watering needed.
TIP - Keeping the lid open creates cooler conditions and the plants need to be watered more frequently.
SMALL SCALE GARDENING
Choose plants small enough to fit in the vessel without touching the sides, combining varieties in a mix of leaf textures and colours.
Go for low-growing species that like humid conditions or pinch back tall plants to keep them short.
SUCCULENTS AND CACTI are good low-maintenance options but must be grown in an open vessel.
Mix clean, coarse sand with the potting mix to help drainage and make sure the terrarium doesn’t become too moist.
KEEPING COSTS DOWN
A terrarium can be completely set up for about $30, depending on the size, including the plants and potting mix.
Shop for glass containers in homewares or discount stores and second-hand shops or at garage sales. Look for an inexpensive but tough glass tea-pot, apothecary jar, small jug, vase or goldfish bowl.
Propagate small houseplants to grow, ask neighbours and friends for cuttings to cultivate or buy discounted plants at the nursery.
MAINTAINING THE ENVIRONMENT
A terrarium is low-maintenance once the plants are established. Check the light and moisture levels are adequate, prune overgrown plants and remove dead foliage and spent flowers.
IF THE LEAVES YELLOW or begin to look unhealthy, fertilise lightly with a water-soluble solution at about a quarter of the recommended rate for normal houseplants.
FOR WATERING use a spray bottle or a watering can with a rose attachment to make the soil damp but not soaking wet.
CLEAN ANY DIRT clinging to the glass sides of the vessel with water then wipe clean with newspaper.
TIP - Don’t use a glass cleaner on the inside as it can poison the plants.
GROWING UNDER GLASS
Choose plants with low to medium light requirements and prune to keep them small. Varieties that thrive in these tiny environments include African violets, crotons, philodendrons, orchids and small ferns.
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