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How to make your own terrarium

Posted: 1pm 22 May 2020

Are you stuck for space, but still want to bring a bit of the ‘outside’ into your home? Why not test your green thumb with your very own terrarium?

We spoke to Gena Campbell from Redcliffe Garden Centre about the dos and don’ts of a DIY terrarium, and how her business has been faring in recent weeks.

First things first: what exactly is a terrarium, and why are they so popular?

“We are seeing many new (and old) methods of gardening re-emerging during the past few months,” Gena says.

“Succulents are a firm favourite and are being mass planted into garden beds, bowls and the old favourite, terrariums,” she says.

Essentially, a terrarium is a collection of small plants growing in a transparent, sealed container. With instant results and the ability to personalise, it’s the perfect DIY project to brighten up your living space.

“Terrariums are fabulous, as they can be utilised both indoors and outdoors depending upon the plants chosen and amount of sun exposure.”

DIY terrarium: step-by-step – with Redcliffe Garden Centre

Getting started: Before you begin, Gena says you need to work out where you want to place your terrarium, as this will determine what you grow.

“If it is in the shade, you have more limited options and really need to use indoor plants such as ferns and other small growing, foliage plants,” she says.

“If it’s going to be placed in a sunny situation, then succulents are an ideal option.”

Step 1

Cover the bottom of the terrarium (a suitable, transparent container made of glass or plastic) with about 3-4cm of small stones/gravel.

Step 2

Add a thin layer of activated charcoal to prevent mould and odours. It removes impurities from the soil, repels insects and, as it is very porous, will absorb excess water from your plant roots. This helps to prevent root rot from occurring.

Step 3

Add a layer of good-quality potting mix, but avoid using a moisture-added, top of the range mix like Searles Platinum ‘Peat 80’ as it will keep the mix too moist.

Step 4

Now for the fun part – adding your plants!

Make a well in the soil and slip your plants into it, gently filling in the soil around the roots. Press down around the plant softly and top-up with more potting mix.

Step 5

Add that extra, personalised touch to your terrarium by placing decorative objects like fairies, little birds or animals on the top.

Gena says one of the most popular trends at the moment is to scatter a few crystals on the soil, which you can readily purchase from Redcliffe Garden Centre.

Top tip for care & maintenance: Water at least once a week, ensuring that the mix is kept damp for ferns and shade-lovers, and dryer for succulents and cacti.

Some changes, same great service

Thanks to their open-air layout, many nurseries and gardening centres across the Moreton Bay Region have been able to keep their doors open during COVID-19, and Redcliffe Garden Centre is no different.

“We are finding a large amount of people are entering into gardening, coming back to gardening, or simply enjoying their garden while COVID-19 emerged,” Gena says.

“The large numbers visiting the garden centre really took us by surprise, and we needed to bring into the centre several safety measures,” she says.

This included providing sanitisers at the entrance and cash register, sanitising all baskets and trolleys after every use, and enforcing the required 1.5m distancing.

And it isn’t just additional hygiene measures that are new. Gena explains they had to make many changes to accommodate the speed and magnitude of business growth and subsequent customer needs.

“We split our team into two for about two months, and are just about to resume being one team again,” she says.

“To enable us to sanitise and unpack stock, we reduced our hours to 9am to 4pm each day for customer contact, from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays and 8.30am to 4pm on weekends.”

In yet another promising turn for the business, Redcliffe Garden Centre also had to increase its staff numbers to support the uptick in trade.

“Recently, we have employed more staff: an apprentice, weekend junior, horticulturist, as well as a second horticulturist beginning within the next few weeks,” Gena says.

“As there has been a solid increase in customer numbers and the average amount spent, we believe that we are able to accommodate the additional employees on a long-term basis,” she says.

If you’d like more advice on terrariums, your autumn vegie garden, or how to maintain your lawn through the cooler months, get in touch with Redcliffe Garden Centre today on their website or Facebook page.

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