Fun to make and easy to nurture, these mini jungles are shaping the plantscape.
Bringing the outdoors in is a trend with benefits. Sprouting up in home décor everywhere are houseplants and flowers to counter life’s modern stresses. Filling your home with greenery is a natural way to boost your mood. The most stress-free plant pals of all? Terrariums!
We garnered the expertise of terrarium specialist Malou, of plant and accessory shop Wildernis, to walk us through making our own open terrarium with a bloomon twist — using a vase and flowers.
Small bloomon vase
Inside the terrarium:
Hydroton clay pebbles (or terracotta shards)
15-30g activated carbon
Organic potting soil
1 bag of common moss
Selection of terrarium plants (more on this below)
Which plants work best?
Get creative with the inhabitants in your terrarium; you can mix plants from different habitats and still have a healthy terrarium.
Top terrarium plants: Ferns, Fittonia verschaffeltii (mosaic plant), Hedera helix (common ivy) , Phlebodium aureum, Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Peperomia caperata 'Variegata', Pilea involucrata (friendship plant), Cryptanthus bivittatus (starfish plant), African violet.
We used: Fittonia, Hypoestes, Muehlenbeckia, fern, Adiantum pedatum, and a mini Phalaenopsis ‘Butterfly’ orchid.
The step-by-step guide to making a terrarium
Step 1: Clean slate
Clean your vase thoroughly to remove bacteria and get it sparkling — you want to see those plants grow!
Step 2: Pebble up
Pour the hydroton clay pebbles into your vase. Aim for a layer of 2-3 pebbles.
Clay pebbles are the all-important drainage layer. “The clay absorbs excess water and keeps plants happy,” Malou adds.
Step 3: Carbon filter
Next, add 15-30g of activated carbon.
Activated carbon acts as a water filter, which helps extend the life of your terrarium. “Don’t shake your vase,” Malou exclaims; “if the carbon sinks, it can’t do its function.” Steady on!
Step 4: Soil and earth
Next, add soil. The layer should be about 5-6 cm deep.
Flatten the earth with the back of your hand so that it's loosely packed and level. Malou recommends using organic soil, “it’s clean and high in nutrients needed for a healthy terrarium.”
Step 5: Get creative with plants
Start with the focus plant (in our case, the orchid). Dig a hole with your hand — you can use a tool, but we love any reason to play in the mud — depot the orchid and plant it in the soil.
Step 6: Keep adding plants
Add plants to your terrarium as you like. Gently take it from the pot, pull a part of the plant and shake the soil from the roots with your fingers. Dig a little hole with your hand and nestle it in. Don’t worry too much about the roots, they’ll grow down naturally.
ProTip: Why use only a part of the plant? A less is more philosophy works best with terrariums. It’s alive and will grow, you don’t want to overcrowd your indoor garden.
Step 7: Moss magic
Soak the moss for 5-10 minutes in water (rainwater is best!) then pull it apart into smaller, workable sections. Spread it around your terrarium, gently patting it into place. Take a close look at your moss — if you see any worms, snails or fungi hitching a ride, remove them. You don’t want them in your terrarium!
ProTip: “Use the wooden end of the paintbrush to get into small spaces and push the moss into place,” says Malou.
Step 8: Brush it lush
With the paintbrush, gently brush down any dirt or moss particles off the glass, to give it a nice clean finish.
Step 9: Wonder water
Water your homemade terrarium. Then, with a spray bottle filled with water, spray the leaves and moss 3-5 times.
Voilà! Enjoy your calming indoor garden.
“Taken good care of, your terrarium will grow for years. Your own mini jungle!”
– Malou, terrarium specialist at Wildernis
Terrariums are fantastically easy to maintain, but here are the best care tips to remember.
The ideal spot for you terrarium is out of all-day direct sun, but somewhere that gets natural daylight. Perhaps a bookshelf or side table, away from radiators.
Water once a week, or as needed. If you notice browning leaves or moss, spray with water.
Leave dead leaves in the terrarium, they’ll provide nutrition for the mini ecosystem.
A special thank you to Wildernis for collaborating with us and providing the plants. Check out their plants and other products at @wildernisamsterdam.