Terrarium Styling and Planting Tips
The Indoor planting trend is here to stay and our collection of terrariums and planters is ever expanding. We caught up with the terrarium and house plant shop Hutch, who specialise in unique, exotic and rare houseplants. They have kindly shared their knowledge and passion for terrariums to create this practical guide on how to embark on your own terrarium build.
Open vs closed terrarium - this is the first important decision. If you’re going down the road of a traditional closed terrarium that you intend to seal, you’ve got to think carefully about the plants you want to use. These terrariums date back to the 19th Century and were invented by a London-based botanist called Dr Nathaniel Ward. The idea behind them is that once closed, the terrariums become completely self-sufficient.
Closed terrariums require plants that enjoy high moisture levels and lower light levels - avoid direct sunlight and really strong drafts as these can be fatal. Good starter terrarium plants are: Maranta Fascinator - “Prayer Plant”, Hypoestes - “Polka Dot Plant”, Fittonias - “Nerve Plant”, Calathea, Ferns, Moss and Ivy. Pretty much any glassware can be turned into a terrarium, as long as it can be sealed (for example with a cork). The Nkuku Toska Vase range is an ideal piece of glassware.
If you’re embarking on an open terrarium you can choose anything you like, as long as you stick to plants that like the same conditions. As a general principal, cacti and succulents work well as they are slow growing and therefore you don’t need to regularly be replanting or cutting back your terrarium plants. If you are going to use plants other than cacti and succulents, then you need to be mindful that they will need regular watering and may outgrow the terrarium more quickly.
There are 5 key components to all terrariums - regardless of style.
1) Glassware - choose a piece that has sufficient space for planting and for the plants to grow.
2) Drainage - place a layer of stones at the base of the glass which allows the water to run away without sitting the roots of the plants in it, which will often cause them to rot. Roughly 2cm of stones is enough.
3) Activated charcoal - a small sprinkling of this on top of the drainage stones keeps any excess moisture clean and your terrarium free from algae build up.
4) Substrate - there are many options to choose from, but keep it simple. Cacti and succulents like a free draining compost; if you’re building a closed terrarium or using plants which like more moisture, a good multi-purpose or houseplant compost will suffice.
5) Suitable plants and decoration. As mentioned above, make sure that the plants you choose will grow well together. For example, never mix cacti with ferns; they won’t both survive in the same terrarium. Allow space around the plants for them to grow and once planted, decorate with stones, shingle, moss or anything you like.
Now your terrarium is finished - make sure you position it correctly. Closed terrariums need to be kept out of direct sunlight and away from strong draughts - open terrariums with cacti/succulents love a healthy dose of light in a bright spot and minimal watering.
Hutch run monthly terrarium workshops in their store in Exeter https://www.hutchdevon.co.uk/
For London based workshops visit https://www.botanyshop.co.uk/