|

Making a Terrarium

Handiwords

A terrarium is a glass case with earth in it, where plants and flowers can grow.

Creating a terrarium – a glass case with earth in it, where plants and flowers can grow – is a super activity to begin during the long winter months, when a bit of greenery perks up anyone's spirits.

Ideas for containers:

Wine jugs Large mayonnaise or pickle jars
Fish bowls Apothecary jars
Clear cookie jars Candy jars
Plastic cake domes Glass canisters
Large plastic salad bowls Distilled-water jugs

If you plan a terrarium with a large-mouthed container or dome, smaller children can easily help. Narrow-necked bottles provide sufficient challenge for older children and adults. Most planters you can plant by hand, but those with smaller openings will require special tools. They take a little practice, but once you learn how to use them they become second nature.

Look for miniature plants in nurseries and grocery-store plant departments. Pick plants that are compatible and that do well in the same environment.

You also need to consider temperature and moisture requirements. Some plants need a closed container with high humidity, some need a partially open one, and some an uncovered one. Generally, the narrower the neck of the container, the less likely the need for a cover.

Location of the terrarium will play a part, too. If it will be in a sunny place, succulents may work best. A succulent is a water retaining plant that does well in arid conditions (e.g., jade plant, Christmas cactus, sedum). If the terrarium will have a lot of shade and moisture, in a bathroom for instance, then ferns and mosses will most likely be a good choice.

It's easy to misjudge size, so take your container along when you go shopping for plants, if possible, to be sure they'll fit. Think about color and texture, too. Work toward creating some dramatic contrasts.

Bet You Didn't Know

The first terrarium came about in 1829. It was invented by Dr. Nathanial Ward, an Englishman, who wanted to watch the adult sphinx moth emerge from its chrysalis. He took the soil where the chrysalis was resting and put it in a glass jar with a metal lid. He discoverd plants grew well in this environment. (No one knows if he ever saw the sphinx moth, though.)

Here are some plants you may want to use:

Small plants:

  • Ferns in the Pteris family
  • Grape ivy
  • Boxwood shoots

Medium plants:

  • Chinese evergreen
  • Peperomia
  • Fittonias
  • Small-leafed ivy
  • Pileas

Ground covers:

  • Baby's tears
  • Mosses
  • Crinkle leaf peperomia
  • Wandering Jew
  • Selaginellas
  • Strawberry begonia

Flowering plants:

  • African violets
  • Miniature orchids
  • Miniature roses
  • Gloxinia
  • Miniature geraniums
  • Pilea
  • Begonias
  • Wintergreen

Desert plants (for a desertarium):

  • Old man cactus
  • Opuntia
  • Bishop's cap
  • Aloes
  • Bunny ear cactus
  • Kalanchoes
  • Tiger jaw cactus
  • Crassulas
  • Sand dollar cactus
  • Echeverias


More on: Crafts for Kids

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Printable Fall Fun To-Do List
Celebrate the cooler weather with this printable checklist of fun fall activities for your whole family.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Care Package Items for College Students
Show your college student that you love and miss her by mailing a care package full of dorm room essentials and comforting treats. Whether it's her birthday, exam time, or just because, get care package ideas to brighten her day.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!