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plants who live in glass houses (with stones)

once upon a time, i made terrariums for my friends as birthday gifts, but it’s been ages since i made one for our own house. with a sick little lady at home this week, we decided to beat the cabin fever by bringing the outdoors inside, and getting our hands dirty!

i already had a bunch of great jars from world market with tightly sealing lids. (we use them to store snacks, grains, etc.) we found a stray one, and some organic potting soil. while N (and daddy) were tasked with finding stones and toys who might want to live in our terrarium, i made a little trip to the nursery down the street for the rest of the supplies.

the types of plants who enjoy living in an enclosed, moist environment are: members of the peperomia family, pileas, miniature fern, coleus, cuban oregano, penta, tradea scentia, miniature mums. even collector plants like african violets, orchids or small begonias are great. miniature and dwarf plants work the best. i chose baby tears, a pink polka dot plant, and a small african violet. i though N would enjoy each of these.

the other things you will need are charcoal chips and pebbles (for drainage) and you can get some moss for ground cover, if you’d like. (i skipped this step, as our jar is very small and i knew the non-plant space would be covered with rocks and marbles.)

now you’re ready to create a tiny ecosystem – first start with a 1 inch layer of crushed gravel or pebbles. next sprinkle a layer of charcoal chips, enough to cover the gravel layer. top this off with 2 inches of potting soil.

then uses your fingers to gently plant your plants and place your landscaping items. we put smooth river stones, rose quartz, glass marbles, and N’s little ladybug into ours.

give it a bit of water, and close the lid. put it in a bright area of your home (but not direct sun.)

there wasn’t enough room for the baby tears plant to live in the terrarium, so i found another home for it.

i’m not the world’s best green thumb at all, but here’s some info i’ve gathered for keeping your terrarium happy:


  • yellow leaves or leaf tips turning brown – too much moisture, try taking the top off your case for a few hours a day until plants look greener.
  • leaves falling off the plants – foliage is touching the glass, adjust your plants or prune when necessary
  • leggy growth – not enough light (remember don’t put in direct sunlight)
  • brown or black blotches – too much sun, move to lower light area
  • remember also to remove dead blooms and twigs

other tips:

  • you won’t need to water much, encased plants can go months without water, watch the condensation, when it becomes extremely minimal it is time to water.
  • no need to fertilize – it will create toxic salts that kill plants.
  • put your terrarium in a bright area, but don’t put in direct sunlight it will bake (kill) your plants. putting plants atop a television or other electronic equipment will also bake their roots.


N enjoys checking on her terrarium a few times per day, and waves hello to the ladybug in there. and bonus: this is one way to have houseplants and cats at the same time! whoo hoo!


03 2010