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