Having Fun At Home During COVID-19
Ever wondered how to build a terrarium?
During this time when we are staying at home, we have a lot more free time and we need more things to keep us occupied around the house. But what’s more, we need to keep ourselves in good spirits.
And one way to do that is by bringing nature indoors!
Springtime is a time of rejuvenation and hope for the future. In a time when we’re very uncertain about the future, doing something with your hands and making something grow can be very therapeutic. Horticulture therapy is a discipline that proves that when you work with your hands, with soil and plants, your spirits improve your mental health, you feel calmer and become happier.
Horticulture in itself is a unique field. It mixes functionality with creativity. Of course, there are certain parameters to think of like the plant’s soil, water, and light needs. But whether it’s in your house or your yard, you can choose which plants you want and how you arrange them.
Gardening combines art with the craft – right brain and left brain work together. And anyone can do it! It takes a little skill to select the correct plants and keep them alive, but if you follow the simple steps in this project you can enjoy a botanical creation to live out the quarantine within your home.
Creating a terrarium will raise your spirits in these three ways:
- The accomplishment of a project,
- The creation of beauty in your world, and
- Giving life and taking care of a living being
Just because you can’t get out to buy supplies for gardening, doesn’t mean you can’t bring some nature inside with you right now. No matter where you live–if you have a yard or not–you can create something beautiful out of things you have laying about your house.
First thing’s first. Let’s cut to the real question.
What is a Terrarium?
A terrarium is a container holding stones, soil and plants. It is essentially a small, contained garden for inside your home. It is held in a clear container so you can see all the beautiful layers of soil and material held within.
Traditionally, terrariums are completely enclosed and create their own atmosphere to recirculate water. As sunlight comes through the glass, the air heats up and the water from the soil and plants evaporates and condenses on the walls of the container, which eventually falls back down to hydrate the soil.
We’ll be making an open terrarium, which acts in the same way, but the water evaporates into your living space, so it will need to be watered once a week or so to maintain the moisture in the soil to keep the plants alive. You could also make a terrarium with only rocks and inanimate objects, which wouldn’t need to be watered at all.
Terrariums Have Layers
At the bottom is a layer of stones to provide for drainage. We know plants need to be watered, but did you know plant roots need to breathe? Roots need a combination of soil, water, and air around them. If the soil is too wet, the plant roots will not be able to breathe and can rot. The stones at the bottom allow somewhere for excess water to go.
The mid-layer contains soil for the plant roots. This creates a contrasting, dark visual layer. Ideally, we want some activated charcoal layered over the stones. This prevents algae and other molds from growing in the water that is stuck at the bottom of the container.
Small plants, moss, and other trinkets grow up from the soil to finish the look of your terrarium. A layer of moss over the soil helps the soil to retain its moisture and adds a different texture from smooth plant leaves.
The Supplies You’ll Need
- Trowel or spoon
- Soil from the yard (or potting soil)
- Plants, moss, grass
- Trinkets around the house
Follow These Steps to Make a Terrarium With Items You Have Around the House
- Choose your container. You can use a vase you have laying around. You could even use a Mason jar or a glass. The container should be clear.
- Grab a trowel or spoon.
- Head outside. You can go outside into your yard or (green space nearby if you don’t have a yard).
- Find some gravel or stones. Fill the bottom 2 inches of your container with them.
- Add about 5-6 inches of soil (potting soil or from your yard).
- See what kind of plants are around that will fit in your container. I found some moss and a violet. You could put in some grass, clover, etc. To plant, dig a little hole in your soil and put the roots of the plant, then fill the rest of the hole with soil and pat down gently.
- Go around your house (or stay outside) and find some tiny trinkets, figurines, stones, gems, etc that can fit in your container for decoration. This is optional but makes an artistic end to our creative journey.
Have fun with it!
Tips to Take Care of Your Terrarium
Once you’re done, put it in a sunny window of your house. For watering, you don’t want a bunch of standing water in the rock layer at the bottom, so please don’t overwater. You need just enough to get the soil wet, about 1/4 -1/2 cup depending on the size of your container.
I hope you felt the calm and contentment that goes with digging in the dirt and giving life to something new and bringing some nature into your home. Every time you look at your terrarium I hope you remember that life is cyclical and it is beautiful.
Who is going to go out and make a terrarium this weekend? We want to see your creations!
Melissa Brumm is a renaissance woman working as an event producer, web designer, musician, and horticulturist from Madison, Wisconsin. She runs a plant event company called, Horti-Craft which offers fun workshops to create plant-based arts & crafts for the home. She also builds websites for musicians, co-produces Abbey Road on the River, a Beatles, and 60’s inspired music festival, and plays cello in various cover bands.