I attended a terrarium workshop at Chicago’s Fleur last Saturday, and it turns out, assembling a terrarium really isn’t all that hard. Apparently keeping them alive is the difficult part.
a vessel a vase or jar
a few small plants We used a variety of succulents in the workshop.
Select your vessel/vase. Add a thin layer of horticultural charcoal, followed by a layer of sand. The thickness of the layers of your terrarium parfait (look at the pictures – the finished product really does look like a parfait) depends on the size of your vessel and the depth of your plants’ roots.
Prepare your plants and add potting soil to your terrarium. To do this, you’ll need to carefully take them out of their temporary pots and gently remove much of the soil from around the roots. The woman teaching the terrarium workshop at Fleur, who was incredibly sweet and patient, said that doing this gives her plants a new start when she re-pots them.
Decide which of your plants to place where in your soil. With a finger, gently carve out a space for the plant place it there. Add soil to secure it, but don’t compact the soil around its roots. You want your plant to stay upright, but compacting the soil too tightly isn’t good for your terrarium.
Continue the placement process until you’re satisfied with the look of your terrarium. I also incorporated some dried moss to add some color variety to my finished product. In the workshop, patrons could add an additional layer of sand on top of the soil if they liked. I liked how the raw dirt looked, so I went with it. If you do decide to add sand on top, the next step is to add a little bit of water to your terrarium before adding the sand. You know you’ve added enough water when you can see the soil sticking to the sides of the vessel/vase. (If your vase isn’t clear, you’ll have to consult some of the resources below on rules of thumb for watering your terrarium).
I’m pretty thoroughly in love with my terrarium, so I’m going to do some reading on keeping the darn thing alive. Until I get the hang of it, I plan on checking on my terrarium a couple of times a day.