In the garden


By Rachel Gleeson

for The Village Observer Feb 2021

During the last 12 months the COVID pandemic has created a ‘botanic boom’ throughout the world. Indoor plants have provided comfort and company to many millions of people, who have been in isolation at home. Studies show that sharing your space with plants has a positive effect on reducing both stress and anxiety levels. The caring for and “parenting” of plants offers hope for regeneration and kinship.

Terrariums, have once again risen in popularity and are a great choice for apartment dwellers and plant owners who are time or space poor. Terrariums provide an almost foolproof way of nurturing and displaying plants that need humidity and moisture to thrive. They provide a tropical ecosystem under glass that would otherwise be unachievable in most homes.


Materials + Plants:

Any glass vessel with a lid, such as coffee jar/bottle can be used. A basic terrarium requires just 4 ingredients – small pebbles (for drainage), Charcoal (to neutralise odours), soil and plants.

For a plant to thrive in a closed terrarium they must love moisture, shade and humidity. These are my favourite terrarium plants, all of which are available from nurseries in the Sydney locality.

• Hypoestes (‘polka dot plant’)

• Fittonia (‘nerve plant)

• Syngonium (‘arrowhead plant’

• Small ferns

• Small begonia varieties

• Peperomia

• Ficus pumulia (creeping fig)

• Haworthia

• Heartleaf philodendron

• Pilea (‘chinese money plant)


– Firstly place 4-5cm of pebbles in base, followed by a small amount of charcoal.

– Place plant(s) on top of charcoal and gently fill around the base with similar amount of soil.

– Decorative moss, rocks, figurines, shells can be added on to the top layer.

– Carefully add water to the terrarium, just enough to reach the top of the pebble layer. Place the on lid and you are done!

– Over the next 24 hours a fine mist of condensation should become visible at the top of your terrarium. If instead, your vessel has large droplets of moisture, take the lid off for an hour or two to allow some of this to evaporate).

Keeping your terrarium well:

– Your terrarium will need rewatering whenever there is no condensation at the top of the jar/vessel (probably every couple of months). Additionally, you can give an occasional wipe down to clean the glass.

– Trim your plants if/when overcrowding occurs, with a long-handled scissors.

– Make sure you keep your terrarium in a bright location as it needs light to breathe and grow (avoid hot areas and harsh light). If your room is too dark, simply place under a lamp containing a LED bulb for eight hours a day (connect a timer). This will replicate the sun’s rays and enable it to grow.