Winter Gardening

When the weather outside is frightful, gardening inside can be joyful.  Sure, there are houseplants you can tend, or you could resort to your science class project days and build a terrarium.  First let’s look at the word “Terrarium” (don’t say it five times real fast. You just did, didn’t you?).

“Terra” means earth.  In mythology, Terra Mater translates to “Mother Earth.” She is the goddess of the earth. “-Arium” is a suffix that means “a place where things are kept.”  So, there you have it.  Terrariums are places where earth is kept. 

 When planning your terrarium, you need to decide if it will be open or closed as that decision will determine which plants to use.  Closed terrariums are great if the humidity level in your home drops due to your heating source.  Search for a glass container with a wide mouth to make it easier for plant placement.  Make sure your container is clean and dry, then add rocks on the bottom for drainage, top with a layer of activated charcoal to help with aeration, then top with potting soil—you’ll need enough to allow the roots to develop and spread.  Next is where your creativity comes into play. Pretend you are Mother Nature looking down on a vast landscape.  How do you envision your garden?  You can add “boulders” by adding more rocks, create a fairy garden, or visit an aquarium supply store for small added features. Moss is a must-have for closed aquariums, and other plants could include Maidenhair Fern, mini English Ivy, Variegated Philodendron, Hypoestes (Polka Dot Plant), or others you may find.  You will need a paint brush to get dirt off the leaves since there’s not a lot of rain storms in a terrarium – remember you are Mother Nature.  Add just a few tablespoons of water and put a lid on your little universe. If you see more condensation than plants, that means the inhabitants are breathing too heavily – just crack the lid a little and give them some fresh air for a few hours.  Moderate light is best. 

Open terrariums follow most of the same rules except for the plants.  Moss may not live long, but succulents and most cactus plants will thrive. 

Whether you choose open or closed terrariums, enjoy your little world as you dream about your outdoor garden in the spring, when the real Mother Nature takes over.   

 Paraphrasing from several quotes, “Surely as there is winter, the spring is sure to come.”  Let’s get ready.