I am not a crafty person, which seems a bit odd to say considering that during my 5 years of college and subsequent 12 years working as an architect I built numerous models and was actually really good at it. There obviously is a difference between traditional crafts and constructing something structural, but sometimes I feel totally inadequate when it comes to being able to do fun crafts with my kids.
Which is why I was so excited to learn about the miniature garden concept.
Terrariums are not a new concept. People have been making them along with miniature gardens and fairy gardens for years. Really there is no limit to what you can do and I promise you that one visit to a local garden center will get your wheels spinning and absolutely give you delusions of grandeur.
I recommend you start small, however, because there are some nuances and tricks-of-the-trade that you learn while doing that will totally leave you planning your next one.
Our terrarium was inspired by a new book called: Miniature Gardens: Design & Create Miniature Fairy Gardens, Dish Gardens, Terrariums and More – Indoors and Out by Katie Elzer Peters. We decided to do a canning jar terrarium because we had the jars on hand and it seemed like a great place to start for the beginner.
- Wide-mouth canning jar (We used ½ gallon jars but you can use any size.)
- Pea gravel (We used aquarium gravel because my kids insisted on the bright colors.)
- Activated filter carbon (We found this by the aquarium section too, they had small containers that was way more than enough.)
- Potting soil
- Terrarium-friendly plant (We used ferns for color and spikemoss for the base.)
- Figurine (My daughter fell in love with a fairy and my son chose Spongebob's friend Patrick. He also picked out a bamboo bridge and a metal trellis and she chose a metal fairy lantern too.)
- Plastic wrap (For under the metal ring of the lid in lieu of the metal disc to let more light in.)
When it comes to what you put inside your terrarium, it's really a personal choice but do make sure that the plants you select are suitable for an enclosed, moist container. While shopping, I spent a lot of time researching the different plants on my smartphone to see if they were appropriate. Overall it seemed like ferns and mosses were fine. Shopping for plants in Indiana in February provided a very limited selection but we did find what we needed.
- Layer gravel on the bottom. We eye-balled this based upon aesthetics and the height of the jar. You just need enough for water to sit in between the gaps in the gravel to keep the terrarium moist.
- Add activated filter carbon on top of the gravel. We used enough to cover the gravel in a thin layer.
- Add potting soil on top of the carbon. 1" thick is enough but keep in mind that your plants may have soil attached. Ours ended up much thicker because we didn't anticipate that. Thankfully we had tall jars.
- Place your plants in the soil. I think we overestimated how much moss we needed so it's quite full. It still looks great and the kids love how natural it looks.
- Add a small amount of water to the terrarium. Enough for the water to start to flow into the rocks.
- Add your figurines and any other decorations you may have. We tried to clear some of the moss out of the way so they sat on the soil and looked more like a part of the garden rather than sitting on top.
- Place plastic wrap over the rim of the jar and add the metal ring from the jar lid. Trim the plastic wrap with scissors or a knife.
Fairy Garden Terrarium
We had such a great time with these and can't wait to try more. Next time we want to do an open container garden with cactus plants.Note: I was provided with a copy of the book mentioned to facilitate this article.