Loosely defined, a terrarium is plant life within a container, and since there is such a huge variety in types and styles, there's a terrarium to fit any environment. Enclosed/forest terrariums prefer lower light, the mosses and humidity-loving foliage inside flourish in warm, filtered sun; Succulents and cacti want much more light- but require open containers for air circulation. Air plants, or Tillandsias, are a natural fit for terrarium life: they get all their nutrients from the sun, water and air. These sandy terrariums are all aesthetics.
In the shop we have everything you need to create your own miniature eco-system, from the building blocks of sand, soil, moss and plants, to trinkets, gems and other treasures. We have glass containers of every shape and size to choose from, but feel free to bring in your own vessel or supplies and we can incorporate them into your personalized design.
We also have completed terrariums ready for purchase in the shop - or if you'd like to create at home, you can purchase a kit shipped to your door or stop in for supplies, a few accents, or some design advice.
Below are a few guides on the three types of terrariums we specialize in at Flowers and Weeds, as well as tips for care for your indoor garden.
Forest-theme, or enclosed terrariums, are created in layers, each layer playing a part in a tiny eco-system. Pebbles lay at the base of the container for drainage, with charcoal above to ward off fungus and mold, filter oxygen, and help with drainage. A ring of damp moss between the charcoal and soil above stops the dirt from falling below, keeping things stratified. The soil layer, of course, is used for planting foliage like begonias or aquamarine, plants that love humidity and thrive in an enclosed environment. Then top it off with some lichen moss or stones and figurines for accent.
Once enclosed terrariums have been initially watered, the moisture stays in the container, so maintenance is next to nothing. If you see the soil drying out or there's no condensation on the glass, water around the edges of the container. Otherwise, keep in filtered light, like a room with north or east windows, and enjoy!
Succulent & cacti terrariums
Building terrariums to house succulents or cacti is very similar to enclosed terrariums. There are layers of pebbles, charcoal, moss and soil, although the soil for these desert plants should have some added sand or Turface for drainage.
Cacti and succulents need open containers, as they require more air flow than leafier plants, and like a bright, warm, sunny spot.
The hardest thing about these terrariums is water. Succulents and cacti like their soil dry, but do need an occasional shower. Wait until their soil has completely dried before carefully watering the plant around its base - we use a turkey baster for this. Too much water can cause root rot, so it's best to err on the dry side, with about 2-3 weeks between watering depending on humidity and season. Less in winter, more in summer.
air plant terrariums
These terrariums are the easiest and most free-form style, because everything inside an air plant's terrarium is purely decorative.
We use sand, dried colored mosses, gems, shells, figurines - any number of items in our air plant terrariums, and each one is unique. Hanging glass globes are well-suited for this type of terrarium as you don't have soil, charcoal or pebbles packed into a tiny globe, but almost any clear vessel with an opening large enough to easily remove and then replace the plant would work.
There are 650 different kinds of air plants various care needs, but these are our general care guidelines: take the plant out of the terrarium every 10 days or so and submerge in water for 10 minutes. Allow to dry for an hour, then replace in its vessel. Make sure to keep the plants in bright indirect light.
Private classes are a great way for parties or groups of six or more can create their own forest-theme or air-plant terrarium after shop hours, with guidance from our staff. To inquire about private class availability, give us a call at the shop: 314-776-2887.
All photography by Virginia Harold