With the temperatures dropping and winter looming, I’ve pretty much finished my yard and garden work for the season and will be focusing my gardening energy indoors for the next several months.
I had bought this super cute teeny tiny terrarium a while ago and finally got around to planting in it! Let me just say off the top that I’ve never made a terrarium planter before and I made a couple of mistakes that I’ll definitely be sharing with you in the hopes that you avoid the same mistakes with your terrariums.
DO NOT ADD ROCKS FOR DRAINAGE
First off, I put a layer of decorative rocks at the bottom for drainage, but DO NOT DO THIS.
I had always assumed that excess water would collect and pool at the bottom of my hole-less planters, therefore, you should add rocks so the soil would be above the pooled water.
Well, turns out that water/soil is smarter(?) than that and will pool at the very bottom of the soil line, which, if you don’t add that much soil ’cause of your rock layer, means the roots of your plants are much more likely to come into contact with the pooling water.
So DO NOT do what I did and just have soil at the bottom of the terrarium, or add speciality materials that are actually designed to help with drainage.
HIDING THE SOIL
I didn’t want any soil to be visible through the glass of the terrarium, so (ignore the layer of rocks I had already put down), I filled a tiny planter with soil and just put it upside down inside the terrarium, so the soil would fall into a neat little circle right at the centre.
It got a little messy because my next mistake was not wetting the soil first. It kind of went everywhere ’cause it was so dry. So WET THE SOIL FIRST if you want to be able to control where it goes.
Then, I put rocks down all around the planter to kind of contain the soil in its circle shape, so you can’t see it from the sides of the terrarium, once we’re finished.
ADD YOUR PLANTS
I decided to put only two plants in my terrarium because it’s rather small. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I used a teeny baby echeveria that I cut off another plant that was growing several heads, and a Twilight Zone aloe. If you’re using whole plants, knock off as much soil from the roots as possible before planting them. It’ll be easier to get all the roots into the small amount of soil inside the terrarium.
My next mistake was that, while it’s fairly easy to propagate succulents just by cutting off pieces and putting them in soil so they grow roots, I should have left the echeveria head to dry out several days before planting it. Having such a fresh wound on it could introduce too much moisture to the plant and it could end up rotting. Whoops.
Third mistake: LET YOUR CUTTINGS DRY A BIT BEFORE PLANTING.
Once your plants are in the soil, cover the visible soil at the top with more decorative rocks or whatever you want.
Despite the many mishaps, I love how the terrarium turned out. I learned about my drainage and cutting mistake way after I had already finished, and while I could certainly start over and do it right, I kind of don’t want to. I’m willing to take some chances and just see how this ends. Who knows, maybe the plants will be resilient and end up fine!
I do love the way terrariums look. They’re so elegant and interesting. It’s just different to all the rest of my houseplants that are just in regular planters and pots. I’d love to make some more and do them right next time.