DIY Terrarium

It's Spring Break here, and I'm writing to you from an empty house. It's so weird.

Madison has been planning for months to spend Spring Break with her sister at BYU. Parker typically spends a few days in the country with my parents. But Becca was sticking around here with me. All week. She and I were going to read and do some projects and eat cupcakes for every meal. We were going to watch Netflix till our eyes burned and then roam the mall. AND . . . and we were going to make terrariums. I know. I'm a party animal. But then she got a last minute opportunity to go skiing in Colorado. She was sweet enough to think about turning down skiing for cupcakes and terrariums with her old mom, but I told her there'd be plenty of time for us to carbo-load and pretend-garden and sent her on her merry way. I know. I'm a martyr.

But I'd already bought the plants, so I forged onward. No kids. Sunshiny skies. An ice-cold Diet Coke. It was a hardship. I don't know where I found the strength.

All of this to say, I envision this being a cool project for teens -- something to keep in their room or give as a gift. But I'm working out the kinks here all by myself.

I've been looking for an online diy for terrariums, but the nature of the choose-any-one-of-a-thousand-variety-of-plants, makes the exact step-by-step I long for rather elusive. So, I read a number of articles on terrariums (see here, here, and here), made a list of possible plants, grabbed Parker and Becca, and headed to the nursery. While there, the nice-nursery-lady convinced me to think about terrariums in two ways: "dry" terrariums (including succulents) and "wet" terrariums (including ferns). For ferns, check out the plants recommended here. We made a variety of selections and headed home.

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I picked up the terrarium containers from Target. And the giant succulent in the right corner? Not terrarium material, Parker just felt a special connection with it.

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Here's everything I started with. The containers at the bottom are rocks . . . (for drainage) and activated charcoal. The charcoal (called activate carbon), I bought at Petsmart with the aquarium supplies. I read that the charcoal will help to inhibit mold and mildew, and because Houston is humidity-central, I decided this was an important step for me.  (Also, not needed: the gardening fork thingy. I'm not at all sure why that is in the picture.)

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First I placed a good layer of rocks in the bottom and added a layer of charcoal. I then mixed a good handful of charcoal in with the soil -- regular potting soil for the ferns and a cactus, palm, and citrus mix for the succulents. (I bought both soils at Home Depot. I almost opted out of the cactus soil, but it was only $5 and my black thumb needs all the help it can get.) Judging how much soil to add was trickier than I expected because you need to make sure the level is low enough that the plants will be contained inside the terrarium, rather than sticking out above. I know, duh. But I'm a slow gardener. I leveled out at about 3 inches. After the soil, obviously, add your plants. The ferns I'd purchased were too large (even though I bought the smallest containers they had.) I ended up separating the plants into smaller sections. I was as gentle as could be . . . but the jury is still out as to whether they will take root. Four days out and they are still green and perky, so I'm hopeful.

There's all kinds of fun things to add at the end in the spirit of creating your own enclosed, miniature world. I'm still working on those details. For now I have some sheet moss (Hobby Lobby) and a lone deer left over from my Christmas snow globe extravaganza.

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I actually had quite a bit of materials left over, so I started to fill various jars and bowls. Yep, I was getting jiggy with it. Things are looking springy over here -- what with the greenery and the sunshine and empty cupcake wrappers. Yeah, I did the cupcakes without Becca too. A girl's gotta live.