Making a Terrarium
Why not make a cool terrarium – a living landscape and miniature garden inside an enclosed glass or plastic container. It will teach kids about plant life and the cycle of water. And there's no better way to educate kids about ecosystems than actually making one.
1. Find a clean container. Glass jars, fish bowls and tanks, clear plastic bottles, and food containers can all make great terrariums. Make sure you have enough room to reach your hand into your container for planting and looking after your plants.
2. Put a layer of pebbles or charcoal at the bottom of the container for drainage. Cover with two inches of topsoil. Add a few rocks, some twigs or branches, moss, and small plants (see below). Moisten the terrarium with water, but don't overdo it.
3. Choose your plants. You need to look for plants that are small, slow-growing, and perform well in humid environments. Most garden centers have an area reserved for indoor plants so look for a variety of plants in 2 to 4 inch pots. Some recommended plants to use include: African violet, artillery fern, false aralia, jade plant, miniature peperomia, nerve plant, oxalis, pink polka dot plant, prayer plant, small ferns, small peace lilies, small philodendrons, spider plant, strawberry begonia, or Swedish ivy. These are just a few suggestions. Experiment with different plants. If they appear to grow too vigorously or respond poorly to the humidity, remove them and try something new.
4. Arranging plants. Place the plants depending on the size and location of the terrarium. If viewing the terrarium from one side, then place the tallest plants in the back and shortest plants in the front. If viewing from all sides, plant the tallest plants in the middle and the shorter plants along the outside.
5. Be creative and create mini-landscape scenes by addung decorative rocks, small animal figurines, small bridges or mirrors to look like mini ponds. Garden gnomes are especially popular this year so pick up a cute one to decorate your terrarium!
6. Place in indirect sunlight or under grow lights. Add water when your terrarium gets dry. Do not place it in strong direct sunlight or water will evaporate too quickly and plants may die.
7. Check on your terrarium periodically. Prune or remove plants with excessive growth. Also check on the moisture levels as some water may be lost over time. Do not overwater. If your soil was not pre-fertilized, add some fertilizer occasionally.
If you get really adventurous, you can add worms or bugs to your terrarium, but make sure that you cover the opening with a screen or stocking instead of the plastic wrap so they don't escape!
• Fishbowl or glass jar of any size
• Small stones
• Horticultural or BBQ charcoal
• Potting soil (preferably fertilized)
• Plants of your choice
• Decorative rocks and figurines