I was invited recently to an event held by Fiskars to learn how to make a Terrarium. I'd been eyeing Terrariums appreciatively in magazines for years now, but I’d never attempted to make one so was pretty excited to be invited. We learned how to put our Terrariums together under the expert tutelage of James Wong who was scathing of the pre-potted varieties available in most shops. Many of these, he said, would last no more than 6 weeks. So I wanted to share what I learned on the day about making terrariums and some wider tips about styling Terrariums and plants at home.
What I learned about making Terrariums
• The trick is to buy small plants, not baby plants that will grow (d’oh- although apparently a very common mistake).
• Because of the glass in a terrarium, it shouldn’t be placed in direct sunlight, as it will get too hot. This means they’re more suited to shade loving plants, rather than sun loving ones
• You’ll need a base of pebbles (about an inch), followed by a decent amount of normal compost on top (a couple of inches).
• Cover the soil with pebbles or moss and include different heights.
• The actual terrarium needs to be relatively large in order to accommodate the growing plants.
• After an initial soaking, it should only need misting after that.
We ate, chatted and potted our terrariums within the glazed light and plant-filled surroundings of London’s Sky Garden; within our own terrarium, London sprawling around us (beautifully meta!).
I brought Auden with me – a risky endeavour I confess, but I managed to have a wonderful time catching up with friends, learning about the fascinating history of terrariums and making my own. The journeys to and from Sky Garden were however, a screaming nightmare with the buggy; my next London jaunt will be far more expertly planned (dear future Hannah: only use accessible stations, or walk, or beg Dave to come too, OR JUST DON’T GO m’kay?).
The Fiskars guys at the event took pity on me with the buggy and agreed to courier my terrarium to me after the event. It was much bigger than I anticipated so there was no way I could have managed to bring it home in the cloth bag I had brought (plus the generous goody bags) on the train. However when it arrived it had evidently taken quite a tumble in the back of the courier’s van, so my careful plant styling had become a bit more…rustic. In praise of the hardy plants James had chosen, a few are still going strong, and it is still looking quite lovely.
Styling with plants at home
A terrarium, or any plant, will fit any home and scheme – whether you’re into clean minimalist lines or eclectic object-filled spaces. In fact, they are my ‘magic ingredient’ when styling both my own home and also the homes I style for magazines. Here are some things to consider:
- Plants add life, texture and personality. So, if you have a surface, wall, shelf or area you don’t know what to do with, or never quite looks right, try adding a plant or three. It won’t always solve the issue but in lots of cases it helps. A lot.
- Add plants in groups. A group of plants together looks better than a single plant (odd numbers work best).
- Buy plants with a specific space in mind. Don’t just buy a great big beautiful plant because you fall in love with it; it'll just clutter up your home.
- Buy plants that will thrive in your home. I.e, a plant that thrives in a dark space for a dark corner, or a sun loving plant for your bright windowsill. Don't forget about hanging plants too, they look lovely nearly wherever they're placed.
- Mix plants with different things. Make sure there are varying heights, interesting groupings, contrasting textures and negative space. In the photo's here, I’ve added in some books to give some colour, ensured my plants reach different heights and have played with the groupings a little too.
- Know when to fake it. Controversial, but I think it’s better to buy a couple of fake plants than serially kill the living ones. If you travel a lot, or are cursed with non-green fingers, or if you have a really dark space, consider a good looking fake. Abigail Ahern is the queen of the good-looking fake plant. They are pricey but good quality.
- Use the right tools. Gone are the days of using a kitchen spoon for potting. Fiskars do a lovely minimal White of indoor planting tools (link below.) I use pruners all the time both for pruning my indoor and outdoor plants and also when I make wreathes. If you do too then I can highly recommend the Fiskars pruners. The handle sort of twists in your hand like magic, to make cutting thick woody stems easier. The mechanism is so satisfying! I am genuinely obsessed. (link below)
- Do your research. I’m no gardener, however I’ve managed to keep my current crop of plants alive for a few years now. I looked up what would work in the space I have and have gone for easy-to-care-for spider plants and succulents that don’t need much water. I re-pot, make sure there is drainage and try to put them in the right light conditions. This seems to have worked for me so far!
I used to serially kill plants but with a bit of research, patience and neglect (seriously- I was over watering them) I am pleased to announce that I have a whole happy family of plants in every room in my house. They make me so happy! Now is a good time to give your plants a little love or invest in a new member of the family as they will cheer you through the Winter.
How are you on the plant-killing spectrum?!
This post is in association with Fiskars, however all opinions are, as always, my own. (I really do love my pruners!)