Creating A Terrarium To Beat Winter Blues

By Mary Ellen Ellis | November 6, 2020
Image by qnula
by Mary Ellen Ellis
November 6, 2020

Winter can be a tough time for gardeners, and anyone who prefers green and growth to gray and cold. But as an enthusiastic gardener, I still find ways to cultivate and grow plants even in the depths of winter. When the winter months seem to go on forever, try creating a terrarium, a little tropical garden indoors.

What is a Terrarium?

A true terrarium is completely closed, usually made of glass, and encloses a mini-ecosystem of moisture-loving plants. Because it’s sealed, a terrarium has its own water cycle. If done correctly, a terrarium does not need to be watered.

This kind of balance is difficult to achieve, so an easier way to enjoy a terrarium is with one that has some opening for air flow and watering. Also, with a closed terrarium, you can always open it up for maintenance, to dry it out or add more water.

How to Create a Winter Terrarium

Because a terrarium is naturally wet and warm, it’s a perfect environment for cheery tropical plants. And that makes it the perfect antidote to winter gloom. Choose small tropical houseplants that enjoy moisture, warmth, and indirect light: 

Succulents, cacti, and other desert plants do not do particularly well in a terrarium. However, you can create something like a terrarium by planting these dry weather plants in an open container, like a fish bowl, and limiting watering.

The actual terrarium can take many forms, from large costly glass houses to simple jars. Any glass container you can get plants into will do.

Because there is no drainage in a terrarium, a bottom layer of activated charcoal and pea gravel is essential. Next comes a good potting soil that is moist enough to clump in your hands but not soaking wet.

Add your plants to the soil, and your terrarium is done. It’s a simple concept but not always easy in practice. Don’t be surprised if your plants die within a few weeks. It takes practice and care to find the right balance. Experimenting with a terraria is a great winter activity, giving you something to grow and providing some green relief from the cold, gray days.

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