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Terrariums | Decorative Interior Gardens Under Glass

Terrariums | Decorative Interior Gardens Under Glass

This and all accompanying photos courtesy of Melinda Graham.
Planting terrariums is fun, rewarding and surprisingly easy. This and all accompanying photos courtesy of Melinda Graham.

Long relegated to school classrooms and science fair project tables, terrariums have found their way into homes. Here, our domestic diva, Melinda Graham, dishes on how to plant a stylish, low-maintenance mini indoor oasis this spring.

Planting a terrarium is a simple way to gratify your desire for a garden, especially if you don’t have the space or time to grow one outdoors. It takes a very small commitment and little expense yet it yields great impact. And even if you think you have zero skill and no green thumb in sight it is possible to have a lush miniature garden in your home. Perhaps best of all, terrariums make lovely focal points that span the spectrum of design from traditional to contemporary.
Enclosed glass container (be creative—use anything from a mason jar to apothecary canister)
Pea gravel
Potting soil
Plant material
Use a one-tenth solution of bleach to water with a touch of soap to clean the container. Rinse well and dry.
Layer ½” to 1-inch of clean dry pea gravel in the bottom of the container.
Add 1 inch of sterile potting soil on top of the gravel. Select the best soil for the plant you choose. Be sure to read the information guide that comes with your plants.
Carefully remove the plants from their temporary pots. Gently shake away excess soil from the roots. Make sure not to damage or accidentally remove roots.
Place the plants into the soil. Add enough new potting soil to completely cover the roots. When all plants are in place, pat the soil around all of the plants to remove air pockets from around the roots.
Place a layer of decorative pea gravel, smooth river stones, shells or glass marbles over the soil.
That’s it…you’re done!
Terrarium_indoor_garden_interior_design_melinda_graham_2Tip #1: Be sure to use all sterile materials to ensure successful planting.
Tip #2: Make wise plant material selections. All of the plants you use should prefer similar growing conditions, including watering preferences and light exposure.
Terrarium_indoor_garden_interior_design_melinda_graham_3Tip #3: Find plants that have a compact shape. Plants that grow long or “leggy” tend to be poor choices for terrariums.
Tip #4: Design the terrarium to reflect your personal style. Use your imagination to choose finishing materials that coordinate with your décor. Sea shells, river stones or glass marbles are just a few options for decorative finishing materials. .
Terrarium_indoor_garden_interior_design_melinda_graham_4Planting a terrarium is a project that just about anyone can tackle and the results are truly rewarding. The finished product makes a lovely home accessory and an even better gift.
For other projects and ideas, visit
—Melinda Graham
Melinda Graham, Garden Variety’s decor and outdoor living expert, has 20 years’ experience decorating, gardening and crafting. Her casually elegant style has been featuring on HGTV, Lifetime, NBC, Discovery and Oxygen, and in the pages of Woman’s Day, Romantic Home, Victorian Home and Budget Decorating, among other publications. She lives in Sanibel Island, Fla., where she runs the interior design firm and vintage decor shop Surroundings by Melinda.
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  1. Karen B
    May 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I think these terrariums are fabulous. Thank you for such an inspirational post. I will be looking out for a container!

    1. Melinda
      May 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

      So glad you like it! I love making terrariums and I hope you will too!

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