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Gardeners learn to make terrariums

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 3:21 a.m.
Sharon Neff displays one of her miniature gardens during her program on how to create a terrarium.
Carol Waterloo Frazier | Daily News
Sharon Neff displays one of her miniature gardens during her program on how to create a terrarium.
Emma Swonger of Elizabeth Township unpots one of the plants that found a home in her terrarium.
Carol Waterloo Frazier | Daily News
Emma Swonger of Elizabeth Township unpots one of the plants that found a home in her terrarium.

This is the time of year when many people are anxious to be working in their gardens. But some people like to make a personalized garden inside.

Sharon Neff recently explained how to make a miniature garden — at one time called terrariums.

“There are three basic things you need for the plants,” she said. “You need water, light and fertilizer. Some plants have different needs, so when you're selecting your plants you don't want to have some that take a lot of water and some that don't.”

She noted that plants used in miniature gardens are cultivated to grow slow and stay small. Neff stressed the need to keep the plants out of direct light because they will burn.

When it comes to choosing what to contain the mini garden in, Neff said bowls, glasses, mason jars or other water-tight containers can be used. There are two types of terrariums — open and closed. Ones that are open have no lid and “can come into a room,” she said, noting they require more water. Closed ones have a lid and the environment is contained inside.

Those attending the presentation, hosted by Synergy Financial, had a chance to make their own terrariums.

In an assembly line process, they each took a box with a glass bowl, a bag of Spagnum Moss, a bag of soil and pea gravel for drainage. A plastic spoon served as the gardeners' shovel.

“There is an order for using those items,” Neff said. “You start out with the stones, then you place the moss, then about two-thirds of the soil. You will use the rest of the soil after the plants are in place.”

Next was plant selection. “You can pick three plants,” she said. “You should choose something tall like a jade plant or fern, something that blooms, then one other plant as well as some moss.”

She stressed the importance of unpotting plants properly. The key, she said, is not to pull the plant because that can tear the roots. “Turn the pot upside down and loosen the sides so the plant will come out easily.”

Although the garden is in a confined space, Neff suggested doing some landscaping to make the terrarium visually interesting. That can be achieved by putting some of the dirt to one side to create a mound where one of the plants can go. Moss can be used to create a knoll or a valley.

When all of the plants are in place, add the remaining soil.

The final step is to personalize the miniature garden. Small trinkets like dinosaurs, ladybugs, angels or mementos from a vacation like seashells can be added. Enhance a path to a favorite item with small stones.

Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or cfrazier@tribweb.com.

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