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Video:DIY Terrarium

with Kerry Michaels

Terrariums are great for those of us who are houseplant serial killers. If you have a terrarium with a top, it virtually takes care of itself - just water every few weeks or even months!See Transcript

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Transcript:DIY Terrarium

Hi, I'm Kerry Michaels for About.com and today I'm going to talk about making terrariums. The great thing about terrariums is that they act like a frame for your plant. You can take the most unassuming plant, put it in a glass jar, and it just looks fabulous.

Terrariums are a great project, particularly if you're houseplant challenged like I am. Once you've made them, they just take care of themselves. You water every couple of months and they perk happily along.

Terrarium Supplies

What you need is to start with is a jar. And you can use anything. Really anything. It can have a top, it doesn't have to have a top. If you have a top, it's a sealed environment, which makes it a little easier to take care of.

You need some gravel. You need potting soil. What you need is charcoal – activated charcoal, which you can get at a pet store, a nursery, anyplace that sells fish and aquariums. Something else that's great to have is sheet moss, which you can get at a florist or a nursery.

Terrarium Plants

Then you need plants and the good news about the plants is that generally you want very small plants and they are less expensive. You want to look for plants that don't need full sunlight. Medium light to low light, is great depending on where you're going to put your terrarium. A spray bottle is really nice to have. A shovel or a scoop is good to have - you can also use a yogurt container.

Assemble the Terrarium Bottom

Now to start with, I'm going to take my sheet moss and I'm going to put it in the bottom of the terrarium. This acts as a great place for the water to go. It kind of soaks up any excess water, which protects your plants, from drowning.

Then I'm going to put a layer of stones, gravel and I'll mix some charcoal in it and then I'll lay some charcoal on top. Then I'm going to put in some potting soil. You want to use a good potting soil that drains well and you want to put as much as you can in, but measuring your plants as you go because you don't want to have too much. You kind of want to eyeball it and guess where your plants are going to sit.

Add Plants to the Terrarium

Then you take your plants out of their pots. If they're root-bound you want to break up the roots a little bit. And now you can see the roots and I'm going to break them up a little bit and take off some excess soil. I'm even going to split up the bottom of the roots a little bit so that they lay flatter so it doesn't take as much space up in the terrarium.

Then I'm going to put it in and settle it down. Then I'm going to put in my second plant, which is this begonia. Then I'm going to take that out of its pot as well. This one is not root bound but I'm also going to get rid of some of the excess soil. And I'm going to see how this one looks right next to the first one. Now the plants that you want to get, I try to go for variations in color, size and leaf texture.

Stabilize the Plants

Once you have your plants arranged the way that you want them, you want to firm them. Put some potting soil between them and firm them down. Now the trick with potting soil is that you don't want any air pockets.

Then you want to add just a little bit of water, because, remember, particularly if your terrarium has a lid, it's a closed environment – it's almost like a biodome. The water will evaporate and keep re-circulating. I'm just going to put the top on.

I'm Kerry Michaels for About.com. Thanks for watching.
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