If you’ve got the kind of green thumb that makes most houseplants go extinct, we’ve got your solution right here! A small-scaled terrarium that’s home to dinosaurs! It’s easy to make, hard to kill and brought to you by horticulturist Katie Elzer-Peters. Read on to find out how to DIY a fairy-sized and kid-friendly version of Jurassic Park.
Glass container (mason jar works)
Small low-light pants (i.e. table ferns, polka dot plants, Selaginella, Croton, Alternanthera, and Ficus plants)
Few cups of sterilized seedling mix or potting soil
Good to Know: Enclosed terrariums need a little light for the plants to grow and keep the water cycle going. Otherwise, plants will rot. If you can see condensation inside of the glass, then the terrarium is getting enough light. If the plants start to rot or become mushy, open the cover and let it dry out for a week or so. It may take a while to find the right balance of water for the terrarium to reach equilibrium.
Step by Step:
1. Fill the bottom of the container with ½ to 1 inch of rocks.
2. Pour activated charcoal on top of the rocks until the rocks are barely covered by the charcoal.
3. Add the potting mix on top of the charcoal. Start with 1 inch of potting mix. This doesn’t seem like much, but it is easier to start with a little, than it is to add more potting mix and dig holes.
4. Place the plants. If you’re using accessories, such as the dinosaur, you can set them in among the plants to gauge the effect see if you want to move the plants around prior to planting.
5. Remove plants from pots and plant them. The bottom of the plant root balls can be touching the rocks. Use a spoon to fill in with soil around the plants.
6. Add decorative mulches such as preserved reindeer moss or tumbled stones.
7. Position the accessories.
8. Water the terrarium. This is the trickiest step. It’s easy to overwater and then difficult to get the terrarium to dry out. Start by watering so that the top inch of soil (which might, in this case, be all of the soil) is about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. You can always add water.
9. Place the cover on the terrarium, set it in bright indirect light, and enjoy.
Even in such a small terrarium, you can make separate little scenes. Ideally, you’ll use accessories to make the terrarium interesting and inviting from all sides.
Katie Elzer-Peters is a horticulturist and author of gardening books, blogs, and articles. She also teaches classes and runs workshops dedicated to gardening and garden writing in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her guide to making “fairy + mini” gardens can be pre-ordered here on Amazon.