Tried-and-true Terrarium

If you want teach your kids about plants but don’t have much of a green thumb, consider making a terrarium. These attractive, low-maintenance projects are an easy way to bring Mother Nature’s magic indoors. Once you do the initial set up, your terrarium will basically take care of itself.


Terrariums can be as simple as a single plant in a recycled jar.A container with a lid will help retain moisture and cut down onthe need for watering, and the soil should supply all of thenutrients the plants need.

A terrarium can also be home to snails or frogs. If lizardsaren’t your cup of tea, use plastic “pets” instead. Be sure to doyour research before introducing an actual animal into aterrarium.

If this is your first terrarium, start simple. Select acontainer (with or without a lid) that can accommodate all of thematerials. Good options include fish bowls, cookie jars or largevases. Generally, the container should be deep with an opening wideenough so your child can easily slide his hands in and out to workwith the materials.

Next, choose your plants. Buy an assortment of succulents orsmall woodland plants from your local garden shop or a homeimprovement store. Select plants with similar growing requirements.If you’re feeling ambitious, plan a nature walk through your localforest preserve to collect moss, small stones or othermaterial.

An odd number of plants usually looks best, so choose eitherthree or five plants. Choose plants in a variety of heights andtextures to create visual interest. Consider adding at least oneplant that flowers.

Place a layer of gravel or rocks on the bottom of the containerto allow for drainage. Pour a layer of potting soil mixture overthe rocks. The rocks and soil together should take up aboutone-quarter to one-third of your container. Remove the plants fromtheir containers, loosen the root ball and place the plants intothe soil. Place interesting stones or mosses around the mainplants.

A few inexpensive embellishments will really make this projectfun and whimsical for the kids. Add accent pieces such as miniatureplastic dinosaurs, bugs or lizards. Suddenly, a few plants and somesoil have been transformed into a Jurassic wonderland.

When all of the pieces are in place, water the terrarium andreplace the lid if you are using one.


  • A clear glass or plastic container(with or without alid)
  • Potting soil
  • A small shovel or trowel
  • Small stones or gravel
  • A selection of plants (succulents work well), mosses,interesting stones
  • A small watering can or spray bottle
  • Water
  • Embellishments such as toy dinosaurs, bugs, turtles or lizards(optional)
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