There’s a 101 reasons to not have a garden in the UAE — scorching weather, busy lifestyles with no time to give your greens TLC, space crunch... but how about a terrarium? These compact, self-contained mini ecosystems are the answer to all your gardening impasses, says Jipson Jerodson, chief designer at My Green Dubai, a Dubai-based online garden centre. ‘They are not only visually pleasing but also [promote well-being],’ he says. What’s even better is they’re low-maintenance, requiring negligible amounts of water and sunlight. ‘Having a terrarium gives both kids and adults an opportunity to learn and appreciate nature.’
Select a clear glass planter of your choice. Planters that have wide openings are great for beginners, such as the classic fishbowl. It’s approximately 8 inch in diameter and 8 inch in height.
Layer the bottom of the planter with stones or pebbles. This creates both a base and allows for drainage of excess water, if any.
Next, add some activated carbon to the planter. It should be less than half an inch and layered evenly over the pebbles Activated carbon helps neutralise stale water’s bad odour in case of overwatering.
Mix potting soil with perlite (volcanic glass with high water content) in a large gardening tray. Perlite keeps the soil airy and improves its water drainage – a necessity for terrariums made of succulents.
The ratio of perlite to potting soil: for succulents 30% perlite to 70% potting soil. For indoor plants 15% perlite to 85% potting soil.
Transfer the soil from the tray to the planter.
Gently plant selected succulents or indoor plants of your choice by settling them into the potted soil in the planter.
Pro tip: To stick to the natural dimensions of the terrarium, we recommend odd numbers of succulents or indoor plants.
Add accessories such as rocks, twigs, bogwood to create the natural-looking features. Use gardening forceps/long tweezers to place and arrange delicate objects in narrow spaces.
Use a small gardening spade to cover the soil with decorative stones or pebbles of your choice.
Pro tip: For a natural-looking terrarium, choose stones and pebbles in earthy tones.
Spray water lightly to clear out the dust from succulents or plants as well as from the sides of the planter.
Wipe water on the inside walls of the planter with a tissue.
Suggested succulents for beginners: Echiveras, crassulas and haworthias. Indoor plants: Fittonias, ferns and English ivy.
Planters, soil, succulents and other garden stuff can be found in any major garden store.
Keep your terrarium in bright, indirect sunlight and ensure the room temperature is between 15 and 30 degree Celsius.
If you use succulents for your terrarium, ensure the soil is on the dry side and use a sprayer to water — a light spray every three to four days is sufficient.
For indoor plants, keep the soil damp and use a sprayer to water every alternate day.