Outdoor gardening season is coming to a close, but it’s not like gardeners can just stop gardening—quitting cold turkey never works, right? Well, you’re in luck because terrarium gardens are the perfect hobby to keep your hands busy during the winter months and soothe those gardening withdrawal symptoms. 


How Terrariums Can Soothe the Off-Season Jitters

Building terrarium gardens is the perfect indoor hobby if you simply cannot rest without getting your hands in some soil. They’re much smaller than your outdoor gardens, making them very easy to manage indoors. You can churn out dozens of simple, open terrariums if you love the rush of gardening, or you can spend a lot of time making an intricate closed terrarium that will start its own ecosystem! Either way, spending time with plants and soil is great for your mental health, so it’s a worthy endeavor. If you find yourself with too many terrariums at the end of your bender, you can give your little gardens away as Christmas gifts. We promise this fix is a win-win situation. 


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Open vs. Closed Systems

There are two main kinds of terrarium systems: open and closed. Open systems have circulating air and are perfect for arid plants such as succulents and airplants. These require a little bit of maintenance as the plants grow, but no more than your typical houseplants. Closed terrariums have a sealed environment, creating their own little ecosystem of recirculating water and air. If you’re looking to grow baby ferns or more tropical plants, a closed terrarium garden is the way to go! They’re extremely low-maintenance and will grow best in indirect light. 


How to Build Your Own Terrarium to Curb the Gardening Cravings

First thing first: choose your container! You can get pretty creative with this part, but in general, glass is a great material to start with because it can handle moisture over long periods of time. 


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Next, choose your plants. You’ll want to select plants that have similar growth requirements based on which systems you’re growing in. Here are some ideas for each type of terrarium: 

Open system: arid plants such as cacti, airplants, succulents, mini hoyas

Closed system: high humidity friendly plants such as moss, ferns, ivy, carnivorous plants, fittonia

Once you choose your plants, you can start constructing your terrarium! Start by layering rocks, charcoal, and soil into the bottom—these create a drainage system that also filters the water. If you’re building an open terrarium, you can add a layer of pebbles on top of the soil if you’d like. 

After you finish the base layer, you can start adding your plants! We recommend placing in your larger plants first to create some structure for your design, then filling in the gaps with smaller plants or moss. Once your plants are all situated, add some water to your terrarium, and you’re all set!


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Caring for Your New Terrarium

Open terrariums require lots of sunlight and a regular watering routine, so keep an eye on your plants! Be sure not to overwater, especially during the winter months when your plants’ growth has slowed down. For closed terrariums—once you add water, they should recycle it fairly well through transpiration and condensation water cycling. If you notice it’s looking a little dry, mist your terrarium to give it a boost. Otherwise, you can open it for 15 minutes of fresh air every four weeks or so and let it do its thang! 


For more NY terrarium garden ideas, visit us at Dees’ Nursery on Long Island! We are hosting a terrarium workshop on November 3, 2022, so give us a call if you’re interested in attending!