Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder


Winter life, under glass

Building a terrarium is great indoor fun for the winter


Kelly Heidbreder


Are there a few people on your Christmas list that have you stumped? Think inside the box. I’ve got some fun garden projects you can pack in a box that will make almost everybody happy and keep them busy through the winter months.


Under glass

Building a terrarium is a really fun project, especially when it’s cold outside. Go to your favorite home and garden center and find a large glass container. It is even better if it has a lid to hold moisture in your small eco system once it’s done.

Aquariums, bell jars, and even large vases will work. There are even tiny glass green houses called cloches that will keep the plants in a humid environment, yet give them some air circulation.

Soil is important in a terrarium, so you will need to pack small stones for the bottom layer, then light topsoil with a lot of peat moss in it is best for a terrarium. Don’t forget the active charcoal. This will help keep your soil fresh since we won’t have a drainage hole.

As you pick out the plant and other elements for your terrarium, look for plants that will stay small. You will only need a few. Start with one taller plant with the rest staying low. They should require the same light and moisture, for example, if you want a terrarium with a cactus in it, fill it with other plants that don’t require a lot of moisture. This will help them all thrive.

Once they build it, it will need to be lightly watered. Cactus and succulent plants only need to be watered once a month. If you keep your terrarium air-tight, it will water itself. Take the lid off once a month to give it some fresh air circulation. Trim the plants once they grow out of their space.


A bright idea

I always love giving winter bulbs, especially to the kids on my Christmas list. The beautiful horn shaped blossoms of the amaryllis bulbs can brighten up any room, even in low light. The simple kits available at many stores make it really easy to just add water and watch them start to bloom.

I like to stick a skewer in the soil and measure its growth each day until it blooms. This is a fun science project to do with your kids.

You can make your own kit specifically designed for someone on your list. If they like Ohio State, give them an OSU container with a large red amaryllis bulb. If they are a Michigan State Fan, give them a small indoor rose bush to care for as they wait for the Rose Bowl. Go Green!

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