If you’re short on garden space, but still want to stretch your green thumb, terrariums are the D.I.Y. project for you! Easy to make and oh-so-beautiful, they are a great way to brighten any indoor space.
But what exactly is a terrarium? There’s a chance you’ve seen one in a store or florist – it’s a collection of small, decorative plants, growing in a glass bowl, glass jar or other transparent container. The opening is usually quite large (like a fishbowl) as it allows the gardener to access all the greenery inside.
A terrarium lives inside and only needs to be watered intermittently, making it great for those who are looking for a low-maintenance introduction to indoor plants. It limits mess and can be placed out of the way of curious little hands and paws.
When you make your own, you can create something that’s completely unique. While we’d like to say you could use any plant you like, there are a couple that work best in these small spaces. They are peperomias, air plants, mondo grass, small begonias, ferns, moss, “Moon Valley” pilea (Pilea involucrata), sedums, cacti and succulents. If in doubt, look for small plants that thrive in humid environments.
Terrariums also make for impressive gifts, even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves green thumbs
Terrariums are best in glassware – you don’t want to hide all the wonderful layers you’ve added! It also makes it easier to keep an eye on the level of moisture. We’re using these Bunnings planters to create our terrariums.
Using a mix of different sands or crushed rock, layer your base of the terrarium. We’re using a mix of colours in crushed stone as the base to create the terrarium layer.
Then add a layer of larger sized rocks or pebbles, followed by some crushed quartz to make sure the layer on top won’t fall through the rocks.
The easiest way to add to your terrarium is with a small spade or a spoon. If you’re working with a container that has a smaller opening, you may like to use a funnel to help pour in accurately.
Now add a layer of activated charcoal. This will help keep fungus and bad bacteria down, as well as prevent any smells coming from your terrarium. Spread a 2cm layer.
Add 3cm of potting mix on top of the charcoal. Then, add your plants, spreading out the roots so they’re sitting on the soil. Don’t worry about making sure they’re buried in the soil at this stage. Add all your plants and then spoon on a small amount of potting mix to cover, or a little potting mix and pebbles to cover the roots entirely.
It's best not to mix cacti and succulents with other plants as they have very different watering requirements.
Add any crushed rocks or figurines for decoration.
Using a spray bottle, spray the terrarium lightly. The easiest way to tell if your terrarium needs watering is if you poke your finger into the soil. If it’s dry, time for some water! However, don’t be tempted to water too often – if there is a puddle of water at the bottom of your terrarium, you’ve overwatered.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.