Bringing a bit of the outdoors in

by Sharon

With the snow falling in Calgary, my three-year old and I decided to brighten up the house a bit.  One idea that came to mind was a terrarium.  With just a few supplies and less than an hour, we had two beautiful creations to display in her bedroom.

First, the supplies…the “soil” portion of the terrarium is made up of three layers, gravel, charcoal, and soil.  For gravel, we opted for aquarium rocks.  There are so many color options at a reasonable price, that you are bound to find something that coordinates with any room in your home.  We chose rainbow rocks since we were having trouble picking just one color.  For the charcoal, we used fish tank filter charcoal.  I am sure that this isn’t the ideal route to take and there are probably more suitable types on the market, but we had it on hand, and so far it seems to work.  Finally, we selected soil that was formulated for the plants we chose.

When selecting your plants, you can take one of two roads, the easy or the hard.  The easy road is to select a pretty fern or other green plant that is soft to the touch.  The hard road is to let your child select the colourful pink cactus that is filled with spines.  We went the hard road, and I am sure you can understand why I call it that.

Lastly, you need to find a glass container to hold your plant.  I do a lot of canning, so I had plenty of jars at the house.  We went with 64oz jars that I commonly use for pasta sauce or pickle spears.  I was sure to use the wide mouth version so I had plenty of room for my hands when I was planting.

Essentially, to make the terrarium, you simply layer your “soil” ingredients in thin layers. (This portion should make up about one-third of your jar)  Then, using a pencil end as a tamper, you carefully plant your chosen plant.  If you do decide to go with cacti, be sure to wear thick gloves.  The ones I used made it a bit difficult to move the cactus around, which is another reason why I suggest choosing soft leafy plants.

Once your plant is firmly situated in the soil, you’ll want to water it gently, and then use a drinking straw to blow any stray dirt off your creation.  Add the top and find a suitable location that is out of direct sunlight.  I have read that you’ll want to water your terrarium about once a month or so, and if it gets too much condensation on the inside of the glass, remove the top for two hours or so until it dries up.

This is a great winter activity that helps brighten up your home.  It is also a great way to have foliage in your child’s room, because even if it gets knocked over, the dirt, etc is contained within the jar.  If I were to do it all again, I would naturally select different plants, and I would find a jar that didn’t have writing on it.  It makes it a bit hard to see the plants, though my daughter loves them!  I would highly recommend this project, and depending on your child’s age and the plants you select, they can get quite involved in the process.

Happy Planting!

Sharon is a New England girl who never imagined that she’d find herself living in Canada. She has a wonderful husband and together they created a Diva Monster. Follow her on her crazy journeys at Nanas Button Jar!!

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