Plant a terrarium for a unique winter garden or gift

Create a garden under glass to enjoy or give as a gift to novice, experienced and even reluctant gardeners. This autonomous system allows you to be a successful gardener with a minimum of care.

Buy a terrarium or reuse something that hides on a shelf in the basement, garage, or shed. Even a cold glass container, bell or bell turned down and placed on a shallow planting tray will work. Simply glue a decorative door handle or handle on top for easy access.

Make it more festive for the holidays. Visit the Ornaments Alley at your favorite craft store. Create a mini terrarium from DIY Christmas orbs for the perfect holiday decoration or hostess gift.

Use enclosed terrariums like this when growing tropical plants. They thrive in very moist, moist soil.

Leave the lid on or use open containers like glass vases or mason jars for cacti and succulents. Use a mixture of cacti and succulents for these drought tolerant plants. They prefer the less moist, drier soil provided by open terrariums and cactus potting soil.

Once you have the container, you need to fill it with potting soil, plants, and other decorative items. Consider a layer of decorative stone, twigs, sea glass, or sand at the bottom for more color and interest. Some gardeners include a layer of charcoal to help absorb any odor. The key is not to overwater as the decorative stone and charcoal won’t stop the waterlogged soil from killing your plants.

Consider covering the stone layer with black landscaping fabric to prevent the potting mix from filtering out and covering these elements. Cover it with a layer of well-draining potting soil for tropical plants and cacti and a succulent mix for drought tolerant plants. Add outlines at ground level if the space allows for additional interest.

Select a variety of plants of different heights, textures, and colors to create a pretty terrarium garden. Many garden centers now sell small specimens that are perfect for these mini gardens.

Low-growing tropical plants such as baby’s tears, creeping figs, moss, and ivies make excellent ground covers. Small specimens of dracaenas, crotons, palms and podocarpus make pretty straight lines. Fill in the middle ground with ferns, nerve plants, polka dot plants and more.

Once assembled, terrariums are relatively easy to manage. Moisten the soil and cover. Open the cover if condensation collects on the glass. Then replace the cover and watch for soil moisture and condensation. Add additional moisture carefully. A juice pear is an easy way to water only plants that need a drink.

Place your terrariums in a bright place away from direct light. Heat can build up in this covered ecosystem and cook your plants when placed in a sunny location.

Now is a great time to collect or shop for some fun glassware, planting and decorating supplies, and of course, plants. Then take a break from the hectic holiday season to plant some holiday decorations and green gifts for your loved ones.

Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books, including “The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook” and “Small Space Gardening”. She is also editor-in-chief for Birds & Blooms magazine.

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