The Easiest Way To Add Life To Your Small Space

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
A terrarium is a great way to add life to your space if you lack the free time or the “green thumb” to care for a bounty of houseplants. Terrariums make it possible to grow things in places that aren't exactly conducive to growth, and can pretty much be self-sufficient aside from the occasional misting here or watering there.

If you have both the time and the thumb, then making a terrarium can be a great way to experiment with new plant varieties and can be an outlet of endless possibilities for your creativity. Although it may seem that terrariums have gained popularity fairly recently, they’ve been around for over 150 years.

There are two general types of terrariums: open and enclosed. It’s important to pick your plants based on the style of your terrarium if you want them to thrive. An open terrarium provides ample air circulation and lower levels of humidity. It is perfect for plants that thrive in a drier environment, like succulents and cacti. Air plants are also great for an open terrarium — and you can skip the soil! 

An enclosed terrarium, with removable cover or lid, provides ample humidity and creates its own sort of tiny ecosystem. The plants inside an enclosed terrarium release moisture, which then condenses inside the vessel and trickles back into the soil. For an enclosed terrarium, choose varieties of plants that are compact, thrive in high humidity, and do well in moderate to low light, like ferns and mosses. 
Check out a terrarium how-to ahead!
Advertisement
1 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Pick slow-growing plants that require less trimming and are less likely to outgrow the container quickly.
2 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
If you're mixing plant varieties, choose plants that thrive in similar environments (i.e., prefer a similar amount of sunlight, humidity, and watering).
3 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
For your terrarium, choose a clean, clear container with a large bottleneck or removable top. We recommend choosing something made of glass. On a budget? A mason jar with removable lid is an easy pick.
4 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Before adding potting soil to your terrarium, layer 1/2 inch of gravel or rocks at the bottom to create drainage. We'd recommend using porous lava rocks followed by a thin layer of charcoal, but a mix of gravel, rocks, and sand works, too. Anything that creates crevices for water to trickle down into is a good bet.
5 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Add potting soil and lightly press down to remove any air pockets. (If you plan to put air plants in your terrarium, you can skip the soil and place the air plants right on top of the rocks.) Arrange your plants inside. Make sure to not overcrowd the space; you want to leave room for new growth.

Related: Keep Your Plants Alive With These Tips
Advertisement
6 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Once the plants are securely potted, use a paintbrush to remove any excess soil from the sides of the container and leaves of your plants.
7 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Make sure to place your terrarium in a spot that receives the amount of light the plants require. For example, an open terrarium with cacti can be left on a sunny sill, while a couple hours of full sun in a closed terrarium with ferns can fry the contents inside.
8 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
When watering, try your best to add water directly at the base of the plants. Try not to pour it right on top of them.
9 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
But, make sure not to overwater your terrarium! An open terrarium can be watered about once every week or two. An enclosed terrarium can be watered about once about every two or three weeks. You can keep humidity levels high in an enclosed terrarium by misting weekly.
10 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
Rotate your terrarium here and there so each plant receives some light. Check on it weekly. If you see any dead or dying foliage inside your terrarium, remove it immediately.
11 of 11
Photo: Courtesy of The Sill.
If you’re feeling creative, adding decorative rocks or figurines is a great way to top off your terrarium!

Next: A Perfect Plant For The "Brown-Thumbed" Among Us
Advertisement