House Plants

Per­fect for the ur­ban dweller, the tiny in­door gar­den is so much more than nice to look at.

Good - - Contents - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy Kahu de Beer

DIY ter­rar­i­ums

I’ve al­ways en­joyed be­ing sur­rounded by na­ture. I have the fond­est mem­o­ries of my child­hood home on Great Bar­rier Is­land where ivy vines crept in through win­dows and gaps in floor boards and took up res­i­dence in my par­ents’ bed­room, and big bunches of hon­ey­suckle and jas­mine over­flowed from vases in ev­ery room. It made our house feel homely and wel­com­ing. Now in my own home, I’m al­ways find­ing new ways of bring­ing green­ery and na­ture in­doors.

Plants breathe life into in­te­rior spa­ces and freshen up even the sim­plest of rooms. They’re also the ul­ti­mate house com­pan­ion for all the ben­e­fits they pos­sess; not only do they re­lease oxy­gen and fil­ter out pol­lu­tants, mak­ing our air cleaner, they can help to boost im­mu­nity and de­ter ill­ness. In th­ese cooler months they prove to be es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial. Dur­ing the process of tran­spi­ra­tion, plants evap­o­rate wa­ter through their leaves which in­creases the hu­mid­ity in­doors, thus de­creas­ing in­ci­dences of dry skin, colds, sore throats and coughs.

A study con­ducted at Kansas State Univer­sity even found that view­ing plants dur­ing re­cov­ery from surgery led to a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the phys­i­o­log­i­cal re­sponses of pa­tients, such as pain lev­els, blood pres­sure and fa­tigue.

If you dream of hav­ing a gar­den but space doesn’t al­low or it’s too daunt­ing a task, in­door plants might be the per­fect so­lu­tion. Ter­rar­i­ums are a fun way to dis­play plants and cre­ate an art piece with na­ture. A ter­rar­ium is es­sen­tially a minia­ture in­door gar­den en­closed in a glass con­tainer, where you can cre­ate your own mini world of lush, beau­ti­ful plants; ideal for ur­ban dwellers.

Ter­rar­i­ums are easy to make and, if set up cor­rectly, prom­ise to be low main­te­nance (hur­rah!). Plants that thrive in­doors grow best in a ter­rar­ium. The idea is to mimic their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment: choose and group plants with sim­i­lar light­ing needs and grow­ing con­di­tions. Pair suc­cu­lents and cacti to­gether, and ferns along­side trop­i­cals. Work in groups of three or five plants, odd num­bers look nice to­gether. Suc­cu­lents are a great choice for those of us who are par­tic­u­larly busy, for­get­ful or just truly hope­less at keep­ing any­thing alive; they are na­tive to desert re­gions and can sur­vive long stretches with­out wa­ter.

One of the ap­peal­ing things about this type of small-scale gar­den is that you can change it up when you feel like it and cre­ate dif­fer­ent scenes in a short amount of time. I like the idea of us­ing them in kids’ rooms and in­cor­po­rat­ing minia­ture an­i­mal or fairy fig­urines in their ‘nat­u­ral’ habi­tats. They also make thought­ful and per­sonal gifts. While mak­ing your ter­rar­ium you can be as cre­ative as you like; as long as you get the essen­tials right the rest is up to you. You could even try for­ag­ing for some of your plants and ma­te­ri­als.

Steps to as­sem­bling

· Layer 1 Sand or stones This layer acts as the drainage sys­tem to en­sure that plant roots don’t sit in wet soil.

· Layer 2 Char­coal Use just enough to cover the sand or rocks. This keeps the ter­rar­ium fresh and fil­ters tox­ins that may be present in the soil, wa­ter or air.

· Layer 3 Pot­ting mix Reg­u­lar pot­ting mix can be used for most in­door plants but cer­tain va­ri­eties such as cacti and suc­cu­lents re­quire their own spe­cific one that al­lows bet­ter drainage.

How to care for your ter­rar­ium

· For cacti and suc­cu­lent ter­rar­i­ums Wa­ter lightly ev­ery three to four weeks, de­pend­ing on con­di­tions. Th­ese types of plants like bright light with di­rect sun.

· For trop­i­cals and reg­u­lar plant ter­rar­i­ums Wa­ter lightly only af­ter it gets dry – once ev­ery week or two, de­pend­ing on con­di­tions. Th­ese plants like bright light but not di­rect sun.

· If you’re mak­ing a closed ter­rar­ium choose plants that en­joy hu­mid con­di­tions, do not place in di­rect sun­light as your tiny ecosys­tem may get scorched. If con­den­sa­tion builds up re­move the lid to let some of the mois­ture out.

The num­ber one rule for all ter­rar­i­ums, do not over­wa­ter! In this in­stance, a lit­tle ne­glect is key.

Left and above: Ter­rar­i­ums are a fun way to dis­play plants and cre­ate an art piece with na­ture. Group plants that have sim­i­lar light­ing needs and grow­ing con­di­tions.

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