So you’ve watched a few YouTube videos of people making terrariums and now you’re debating if you should make one yourself. Let me set this straight right now: YES YOU SHOULD.
There are many reasons why you should make a terrarium, including low maintenance, low cost, and it’s a great way to exercise your creativity and decorate your living space. Anyone anywhere can and should experience the joy of making their own terrarium.
But before we get into talking about the benefits, first we should get an understanding of what a terrarium is.
Table of Contents
What is a terrarium
You can think about a terrarium as a small plant ecosystem in a container.
There are two types of terrariums: open and closed. Usually when people talk about terrariums, they are referring to closed terrariums.
An open terrarium has the plants open to the environment. A closed terrarium has the plants completely sealed in the container.
A closed terrarium basically acts like a mini greenhouse. Water evaporates from plants and soil, eventually converting into condensation on the container walls and trickling back into the soil, creating a mini water cycle.
In a terrarium, there are three basic layers:
- The false bottom
- The soil
- The plants
The false bottom acts as a sort of drainage layer that allows excess water to trickle through the soil away from the plant’s roots.
The soil and the plants are pretty self-explanatory, but form the basis of any good looking terrarium.
Now that we have an understanding of what a terrarium is, let’s get into why you should make one.
1. It’s easy to make a terrarium
Terrariums are really easy to make.
There are only a few components that you’ll actually need to start making one:
- A glass or a plastic container
- Some small rocks or pebbles or sand
- Some soil
- Your plants
If you look through that list, you’ll notice that all of those things are either already in your living space or you can find easily around your neighborhood. No shopping necessary.
While you could go out and buy some tools or plants or fancy containers, you can just as easily grab an empty container in your house and start collecting the terrarium components at a local park.
It really only takes a couple of hours to put one together from scratch.
No need to buy any special fertilizer, till the soil, trace the trajectory of the sun, or plant seeds. All you need is a little bit of space and a couple of hours.
2. Terrariums are low maintenance
If you’re like me, maybe the thought of bringing something living into your home makes you wonder how much work it’s going to take to keep it alive.
Let me put you at ease right now and say this: terrariums really don’t need that much maintenance to keep them alive.
Conceptually, it might seem like there’s a lot of things to think about and a lot of unknowns that you’ll have to learn about as a complete beginner. But once you have those (few) things figured out, maintaining a terrarium shouldn’t take any more than at most 5 to 10 minutes a week.
There’s only a few things that a terrarium needs to be monitored for:
- Water levels
- Mold and fungus
- Overgrown plants
- Dying and decaying plant parts
- A cloudy container
Most likely, you’re probably just going to be watching for the water levels. All you’re checking for is that there’s not too much or too little water in the container.
I go over all the details of what you need to watch for and how much maintenance you actually need in my other post that you can check out here.
3. Terrariums don’t take up a lot of space
Another benefit of having a terrarium is that they really don’t take up that much space.
That means that you can make a terrarium even if you live in a tiny cramped apartment in the city or in a college dorm room.
There’s no need to have a huge backyard or own land to start making a terrarium. You just need a little space and some light, even if it’s just the corner of your tiny desk.
That ties in with my next point:
4. Anyone anywhere can make a terrarium
One of the benefits of having a terrarium is that you don’t need a lot of money (or any money at all) to get started.
You could be a broke college student, an apartment dweller in the city, or a young kid who’s allowance won’t cover any expensive hobbies.
All the materials can be gathered around your neighborhood or local park. Just pick up some rocks and pebbles on the side of the road, scoop up some dirt, pluck some moss and ferns in the cracks of the sidewalk and you’re good to go.
Literally anywhere that has plants growing somewhere in the nearby vicinity presents an opportunity to create a little terrarium. Typically, the types of plants that grow in areas occupied by humans are tough and hardy and will do great in any terrarium.
You’re basically picking out the ultimate survivors of plant species for your terrarium. You should feel pretty confident that you’ll find success with them.
5. You can get creative with your terrarium
One of the really cool things about terrariums is that they almost look like miniature worlds in a bottle.
You can make moss look like rolling green hills, ferns look like trees, and little twigs look like fallen tree trunks. It can be whatever you want to imagine.
Just looking at moss alone, there are thousands of different species to choose from. The combination of plants you can add to your terrarium are virtually endless.
Combined with the endless selection of miniature models and decorations, your imagination is the only limit to what you can create with your terrarium.
There’s endless opportunities to exercise your creativity in creating little worlds in a bottle. Just check Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, or Google images and you’ll find plenty of inspiration for your next terrarium.
That also brings me to my next point:
6. Terrariums are great decorations
I hope this goes without explaining, terrariums are a great addition to any home environment.
As a matter of fact, studies have shown that household plants can improve your mood and increase your productivity by 15% in addition to removing 87% of toxins in the air in just 24 hours.
So not only do they look great, they also provide measurable benefits to your mental and physical health in addition to improving your productivity and concentration.
How’s that for a decoration?
7. Terrariums make great gifts
Since terrariums come in a small, portable container, they make great gifts.
Adding the fact that they are really simple to maintain, you can rest assured knowing that most people should be able to handle raising the terrarium with very little instruction. It’s not like gifting someone a puppy for white elephant.
Considering all of the benefits listed above, most people should be glad to receive a terrarium as their next gift.
That’s also a plus for you because now you don’t have to worry about building up an inventory of terrariums that you’re running out of space for. Feel free to make terrariums to your heart’s content and give away the excess.
How to make a terrarium
So now that you’re hopefully sold on why you should make a terrarium, let’s get into how you actually make a terrarium.
Gathering the materials mostly boils down to these two steps:
- Grab an empty, transparent container that you can used to place your plants in
- Go for a walk around your neighborhood collecting moss and small plants, soil, and some pebbles
Of course, you can always buy the materials, but if you’re going to make a budget friendly terrarium, this is the way to go.
Making a terrarium is relatively simple once you have the materials:
- Fill your container with about an inch of pebbles
- Add a separator by cutting out a piece of plastic from an empty cereal bag, poking holes in it, and placing it on top of the pebbles
- Add about an inch of soil to the container
- Add the plants you collected by digging small pits and placing them in
- Add about a spoonful of water to the container
- Close the container
- Be happy that you completed your first terrarium and observe it’s beauty
So that summarizes why you should be making a terrarium. If there’s one piece of advice to get started it’s to just take the first step and try it.
Grab a container and go for a walk and see what you find. Experimentation and discovery is all part of the process.