design: terrariums & planters

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There is a reason that we chose an herb terrarium as our latest Kitchen Print. The herb idea might be a dreamy one, one that we’re not sure would actually work out quite as well as it did in print, anyways! But, terrariums and planters of all shapes and sizes are great houseplants, decorations, gifts and more. We’ve been making a few different kinds over the past few months, working out what works best in our little house with little light. Below are a few of our favorites, along with some tips for how to create your own:


Container Terrarium

The one pictured here was actually a Christmas gift for our favorite illustrator, complete with a slightly creepy cement doll head that I thought she might find humorous (turns out she found it, well, slightly creepy). We followed these instructions from Design*Sponge practically to a ‘t,’ including shopping for plants and accessories at Chicago’s own Sprout Home. The only thing that I would reconsider is buying the dehydrated moss. While it started out green, it pretty quickly turned brown. I tried it in a variety of pots and applications with the same results. The other fuzzy brown element towards the bottom is the base of the ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ Fern (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for this!) which I absolutely love. The fern grows out from fuzzy ‘feet’ that grow and extend along the base of the plant. Since my sister and I share a love of rabbits, this plant choice was easy. A second (different) fern, air plant and a dried fungus complete the vegetation. Layers of rocks, charcoal and soil appropriate to low-light plants are the base of this terrarium. The container itself was an inexpensive find from a home decor store.


Sedum PlanterSucculents are plants that have thick fleshy leaves or stems adapted to storing water. They prefer dry climates and are a favorite for rock gardens and areas with gravel. Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Crassulaceae (according to Wikipedia, at least), members of which are commonly known as stonecrops. What I know is that succulents (along with some flowering sedums) make for a lovely and low-maintenance planter. Once you choose a planter that accounts for the height of your selected plants’ root structure and has drainage (VERY important for succulents- they like it dry!), you can be very imaginative with your planter!  I found my giant clam planter online after coveting a cement version that I saw in a shelter mag. What I found is a very similar resin version, for a fraction of the price. And, since this is inside most of the year, this was practical on many levels- my little side table would never have been able to bear the weight of the cement version! There are drainage holes in this planter, a gravel layer was not necessary, but I added one anyways. Since I ended up using standard potting soil vs. a kind specially suited for succulents (which is recommended), I’m glad I took the precaution. I purposefully started out with only a few plants in the large planter, as I wasn’t sure how quickly they would grow, or if I’d selected versions that would spread. I also added some smooth beach stones collected from a California trip. Over the past year, I’ve added more when I find one that suits my fancy, or I swipe a cutting from my mother’s collection.

As with the container terrarium, maintenance is low. Water as necessary (wait for any sedum planters to get fairly dry before watering; a fern terrarium should be watered more frequently- but always check the soil first!). One thing that neither planting likes is dead leaves, though. Be sure to pick up or pinch yellowing leaves as a rule, and remove any plants that succumb to rot. This will help keep the rest of the plants healthy!



Air PlantThe easiest of the three, air plants don’t require soil at all. I found these glass globes at CB2 some time ago, and was just waiting for the right project. Air plants add a little green to a corner of our dining room that needed some life, and the hanging bulbs keep them light and lovely. Outside of a dunk every week in a bowl of water (just for a few seconds, and then let dry a bit before putting them back in the globes), there’s nothing to these. I have lost one in the 6 months I’ve had them, but am not sure why. However, there’s still 5 more going, so I consider that good odds (especially with my tendency to kill houseplants)!



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One Comment

  1. Fun post thanks for sharing! I never seem to be very good at keeping houseplants alive, maybe one of these low-maintenance varieties would be up my alley.

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