So says Southern Living magazine in its November issue. So say garden centers, which are increasingly creating and showcasing them as miniature ways to garden on tabletops.
These glorious glass gardens take just a few minutes to assemble. Even kids can help make them for teachers' gifts, shut-in friends or family or as housewarming gifts for new neighbors. But, be sure to make one for yourself.
"Making a terrarium is not an exact science," says Lucy Watkins, who creates dozens of terrariums for the greenhouse at McDonald Garden Center in Hampton.
"When you do a terrarium, you are using plants that are going to grow, so you have to leave room for them to grow. Avoid overcrowding your container and you will have fewer problems down the road."
Glass containers are typically chosen for terrariums, but you can use anything around the house or anything you may find at a yard sale, flea market or antique sale. China tureens, antique bowls, old pottery or even unused wooden drawers can be used to hold the gravel, charcoal and potting soil needed to support the plants. Bell jars, glass cloches and even old pickle jars work. Terrariums need no drainage holes, so avoid the kind of pots used for container gardening outdoors or growing houseplants indoors.
Plants ideal for terrariums usually include 2- and 4-inch pots of baby plants like mosses, ferns, jade, kalanchoes, African violets, palms, snake plant and peperomias Miniature orchids add an elegant flare.
Here's how to make a medium-size terrarium that can serve as a centerpiece for a dinner table or embellish a coffee table for a casual get-together. The principle is the same for any shape or size terrarium you would like to make. You can find the materials at garden centers, sometimes craft stores.
"Your imagination is your only limitation," says Watkins.
12-inch-wide, 6-inch-deep glass bowl
Small bag of horticultural gravel
Small bag of activated charcoal
Small bag of potting mix
Small bag of wood chips
5 plants: snake, jade and kalanchoe, each in 2-inch pots; succulent and moss, each in 4-inch pots.
Wash and dry container.