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Nupur Amarnath | Jan 22, 2017 Imagine a world in a glass. The deep, dark earth, lush green plants and even tiny living beings all living and breathing in a bottle. This is not a modern-day Alice in Wonderland scene but terrariums or as horticulturist and gardeningentrepreneur Vrinda Keshavcalls it, “poetry in a glass”. It’s a mini-ecosystem that you can create inside a glass bottle using some activated soil or peat, plants and minimal watering.

“It’s a mini-greenhouse and works on the same principle,” Keshav says. A terrarium, for the uninitiated, is a garden in a bottle. You control the humidity, temperature, and the plants create an ecosystem which helps them thrive for 10 years or more.

A glass act
Architect Akshay Srinagesh came across terrariums during his voluntary work in animal rescue where they were used to house exotic pets like turtles and geckos. “But now people are creating little bottle gardens for home decoration,” he says. If you have a green thumb but no space, a terrarium is for you. It’s a great conversation starter, too.

Any glass bottle from a regular cookie jar to expensive Belgian glass works for a terrarium. The price depends on the bottle, starting from Rs 275 to Rs 4,000 for imported ones. Go for open or closed terrariums depending on the plants. While succulents and cacti (common ones are haworthia, echiveria, echinocactus) work well for open designs; small rainforest plants like pelia, fittunia, sanseveria are good picks for closed ones.

Green fingers
“If you want your terrarium to stand the test of time, leave it alone,” Keshav advises. Her company has seen a surge in demand for themed to plain terrariums and they are now a popular corporate gifting item. In fact, she has noticed that the company plants have better chances of survival as they are left alone. Why? Because amateur gardeners usually pamper their plants by over watering them.

Her advice: keep the terrarium in a place with just enough light – “meaning an old person can read small print without glasses”. “Talk, sing, entertain your plant but water only when you see it turning light green or the soil turning to lighter brown. Let the plants create their own survival system,” she says. You can prune them from time to time.

What is a terrarium?
Terrariums simply are mini-greenhouses. They are small gardens (in fact, ecosystems) in a bottle or any sealable glass container containing soil and plants. They can be opened for maintenance and watering.

Make your own terrarium
You need: A glass container, rocks or pebble, activated charcoal or peat, potting soil, various small plants, scoop or shovel, gardening gloves, items for decoration like moss, smalls figurines.

Step 1: Prepare the container
Remove any price tags or stickers and wash it thoroughly.

Step 2: Add drainage layers
Now, fill the bottom with rocks to create a false drainage layer. Aim for a depth of 1/2-in to 2-in.

Step 3: Add the charcoal
Just cover the rocks. The charcoal helps in reducing bacteria, fungi and odours.

Step 4: Add soil
Get the right soil depending on which plants you’re using. Add enough soil so that the plant roots have plenty of room to grow.

Step 5: Plant
Plant the plants but keep them away from the edges.

Step 6: Add accessories
Add little accessories to decorate your terrarium – from moss to old toys, etc.

Step 7: Clean and water
Clean up the jar. Give the terrarium a little bit of water.

(This story has not been edited by BDC staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed from IANS.)

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