Plant a terrarium for a unique conservatory or gift

Create a garden under glass to give pleasure or a gift to new, experienced and even reluctant gardeners. This standalone system makes it easy for you to be a successful gardener with minimal care.

Buy a terrarium or reuse something that is hidden in a basement, garage or shed on a shelf. Even a cool glass jar, cup, or bell jar placed face down on a shallow planting tray works. Just stick a decorative handle or handle on top for easy access.

Make the holidays more solemn. Visit the aisle of your favorite craft store. Make a mini terrarium from DIY Christmas balls as a festive decoration or the perfect hostess gift.

Use such closed terrariums when growing tropical plants. They thrive in high humidity and moist soils.

Leave the top or use open pots such as glass vases or mason jars for cacti and succulents. Use cacti and a succulent mixture for these drought tolerant plants. Preference is given to the lower humidity and drier soil provided by the flower mixture of the open terrarium and the cacti.

Once you have the container, you need to fill it with flower pots, plants and other decorative items. Consider a layer of decorative stone, twigs, sea glass or sand on the bottom to increase color and interest. Some gardeners also contain charcoal to absorb odors. The point is not to over-water, as decorative stone and charcoal do not prevent wet soil from destroying plants.

Consider covering the stone layer with black landscape fabric to prevent the flower mixture from seeping through and covering. Cover this with a well-drained flowerpot for tropical plants, a mixture of cacti and succulent for drought-tolerant plants. Add contours to ground level if the location allows for more interest.

Choose plants of different heights, textures and colors to create an attractive terrarium garden. Many gardening centers today sell small specimens that are perfect for these mini gardens.

Low-growing tropical plants such as baby tears, creeping figs, moss, and amber are excellent ground covers. Small specimens of dracaena, crotones, palms and podocarpus form beautiful straight features. Fill the middle ground with ferns, nerve plants, spotted plants and more.

Once assembled, terrariums are relatively easy to handle. Wet the ground and cover. Open the lid if condensation builds up on the glass. Then replace the cover and check the soil for moisture and condensation. Carefully add more moisture. Turkey meat is an easy way to water only plants that need a drink.

Place your terrariums in a bright place away from direct light. Heat can accumulate in this indoor ecosystem and fry the plants if placed in a sunny location.

Now is the perfect time to collect or buy fun glassware, planting and decorating supplies, and of course plants. Then take a break during the bustling holiday season and make some holiday decorations and green gifts for your loved ones.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Handbook for Midwestern Gardeners and Small Gardening. He is also the contributing editor of Birds & Blooms magazine.

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