I remember back when I was just a wee groovy lass in the 1970s, a huge fad for indoor gardeners (and quirky therapists) were terrariums: small to medium sized glass or plastic bowls landscaped with river rocks, moss, dirt, assorted succulents and other low-maintenance plants. Every 70s home seemed to have one (usually sitting below the giant macrame owl).
But terrariums date back even further than the 1970s. According to gardening lore, terrariums were created quite by accident in the late 19th century when gardening guru Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward noticed a fern sprout inside of a corked bottle which he had placed in a hibernating chrysalis. Terrariums, or "Wardian cases" as they were called back in the day quickly gained popularity in Victorian England, but faded just as fast. Becoming popular once again in the 1970s and fading just as fast (once again), the terrarium seems to be making yet another comeback, no doubt because creating one is cheap, easy and fun.
The beauty of creating and owning a terrarium is that it is literally a mini, low maintenance indoor garden of greenery that fits with just about any style of home decor and can be designed in a myriad of different ways.
How To Create An Open Air Terrarium (A DIY)
Wide mouthed glass container, such as a fishbowl, vase, clear bowl or even a wine glass. Note: You can use a terracotta pot, but I prefer using glass because then any pretty rocks or sea glass I might use will be visible.
Pebbles, sea glass or river Rocks
Sand (for succulents)
Small plants such as succulents, ferns, ivy, etc.
Other decorative items, such as sea shells, colored rocks, small sticks and little tchotchkes
A small shovel or scoop
Gardening gloves (optional, natch!)
Once you’re happy with your arrangement, place your terrarium in indirect sunlight. You don’t want to overexpose the plants and have them dry out and die.
Terrarium Tip: How about using clear plastic bowls and letting the little ones put together their own terrariums? This is perfect to keep them entertained on a summer afternoon or as a birthday party or classroom craft, all while learning a little bit of botany, too!
This DIY is for open air terrariums, but you can make a terrarium using a closed container as well. Want to learn more about that? Check out how the Gardenista does it.