Is your home too small to make a garden, but you want some greens that need no maintenance? Then a terrarium can be an excellent pick.
A Terrarium is an indoor miniature garden confined within a sealed glass container to create a self-sustaining ecosystem. If planted once, there is no need to open the container even for watering. But the garden remains green – if it’s grown and maintained in the right way.
Jincy Varghese, a terrarium maker from Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, explains how to make a perfect terrarium and the common mistakes that happen during its making. It’s been more than a year since 36-year-old Jincy started a terrarium business after quitting her nursing job in Saudi Arabia due to some health issues. “I completely relied on YouTube to study the process, and it was an instant success,” says the gardener.
Here are some quick tips for beginners in terrarium making from the expert:
1. Choose a suitable container
Any transparent containers with a wide mouth and tight lid can be used. Go for glass containers, not plastic ones. “You can pick a cookie jar, fishbowl, wine or beer bottle,” says Jincy. The container can be three inches to foot-long, as you wish.
2. Select appropriate plants
Humidity loving and low light compatible plants are the best to pick. Ferns, moss and similar houseplants can be good options. “Avoid plants like succulents and cactus for closed no-maintenance terrariums. They can be planted in open containers,” she explains.
3. Use basic tools
Terrariums are confined spaces, and it is better to use small tools like chopsticks or tweezers. Using any big tools will damage the plants as well as the container.
4. Add drainage and charcoal layer
In order to keep water away from plant roots, a drainage layer is to be created. Thus, start the process by adding gravel or pebbles. “This base layer is called the drainage layer,” she says. Top it with a thin layer of charcoal to absorb excess moisture and control any bacteria or odour.
5. Add substrate
The potting mixture, otherwise known as a substrate that consists of garden soil, sand and cocopeat, is to be added on top of the charcoal.
6. It’s time to plant
Remove any excess soil left on the plant roots before taking them into the container. Dig a hole for each plant using a chopstick or a finger. Water it lightly using a sprayer after planting and close the container.
7. Ensure a little sunshine
Indirect, filtered sunlight is essential for the growth of terrarium plants. “The south side window area is the ideal place to keep the containers from where it can receive not-so-harsh sunlight. If that is not possible, small LED or fluorescent lights can be set up near the container which doesn’t produce excess heat.”
“Now watch the biosphere swing into action within a few days with absolutely no maintenance,” says the gardener.
Jincy sells her products via Facebook and Instagram. The price depends upon the size of the container and the type of plant used.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)