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Terrariums: Plants that are Pretty and You Won’t Kill

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I love lamp plants. Homes with plants in every nook and cranny always seem so vibrant and bright; you know those houses where there’s a giant fern in the corner, and orchids on the counter, and herbs growing in a box by the window? I want. However, I always thought this dream was an impossibility. You see, I am an indoor plant killer. It’s mostly because I am inconsistent and forgetful, and I don’t water enough or then I water too much because I get excited, or I put plants in direct sunlight and they burn up. Plus, my lovely husband melts in sunlight. Maybe that’s not exactly fair, but bright light gives him migraines. Anyways, I have never successfully cultivated the kind of house plant ecosystem that I crave.

Enter succulents.

I discovered succulents when I sprung for some cheap and pretty plants in IKEA. Those plants, my friends, are still alive. What’s that? YES. Plants I did not kill, despite not watering them for weeks at a time. Maybe that’s why they’re still alive? I bought several more at Trader Joe’s. And then I discovered terrariums. Pinterest may well bankrupt me.

I went on a major terrarium spree and purchased lots of succulents, pebbles, moss, special potting soil, activated charcoal, bowls, and accessories.

Did you know that there are two kinds of terrariums? Open terrariums require regular watering and are the perfect setup for succulents, since succulents thrive in bright light and dry climates. Closed terrariums don’t require regular watering because SCIENCE! Basically, a closed terrarium creates the perfect self-sustaining ecosystem for plants. The plants and soil in a closed terrarium release water vapor, which then condenses on the glass walls of the container and then trickles back down.

Tips for Terrariums

Go to the dollar store. Seriously, you don’t need to spend $10 on pebbles at Home Depot. They’re rocks. Same goes with terrarium containers. Gardening stores sell glass terrariums for $50 or more. I went to the dollar store and bought cheap wine glasses and other glassware, and then I went to Marshall’s and got a giant glass jar for $10. Worth it!
Research plants. Anything that is a cactus or succulent is great for an open terrarium, no problem! But for closed terrariums, you want small plants that love bright light and lots of moisture. Here’s a list I found that helped me pick my plants. Also, gardening stores want to sell you things, so ask for help!
Layer, Layer, Layer. Drainage is really important for a terrarium, otherwise you could get moldy plants. That’s why terrariums require layers of pebbles, sand, potting soil, and activated charcoal. I found this article to be really helpful, but mostly I just experimented!
Find good light. Not too much, not too little. Especially for a closed terrarium, too much light can bake your plants!

If you, too, are guilty of plant murder, I recommend going for plants that look pretty and require as little maintenance as possible. Hooray for terrariums!

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  • Awesome that you were able to find plants that your able to keep alive like this. They look pretty too.

    • Hannah Pearlman

      Thanks, Lisa! Do you garden?

  • YES! At last another plant killer! I’m so bad at keeping them alive our local florist doesn’t want to sell me plants anymore (true story!!) I’m definitely going to look into the closed terrarium gardens. I would love to have living plants in the house 🙂

    • Hannah Pearlman

      Somehow I’m ok with outside plants – but inside, forget it! My terrarium is still going strong. It’s pretty and self-sustaining!

  • Challenge accepted. LOLOL. (I kill every plant within a 30 mile radius!)