Year Round Terrarium

August 23, 2019

Year Round Terrarium

Tips on how to successfully maintain your own terrariums and have them look this good
(All photography by David Bagosy Photography)
If you get the chance to spend an afternoon in decor and design expert Steven Sabados' beautiful loft, like we did, you'll fall in love with many elements. Sitting around his coffee table, we had to ask him how he created the lush and layered look you see above.

"I love making these terrariums because they grow and stay abundant year round. They are constantly changing and taking on a new look. I just got back from a week away and there are new things to discover in each one. For me their true beauty lies in how these tiny environments take on a life of their own in my space." Steven also insists that they are easy to create and maintain.

So we asked Steven for his tips on creating terrariums, and to guide us on how to get this look in our own living rooms. Steven says that you can create a terrarium in any lidded glass jar. He outlined where he gathered each of his jars [above — from left to right] "I have a decorative jar meant for bathroom accessories and toiletries, a traditional terrarium cloche, a cookie jar and a cupcake stand.  For me it doesn't matter that they are different shapes; because they are all glass, they work together."

The good news with a terrarium is that anything goes and once they are complete, they are relatively easy to maintain. Typically, a terrarium is made with small foliage plants that grow slowly. With that said, you can test your hand at other greenery like succulents and orchids. Steven emphasized the important of pairing plants with similar natural habitats, "I want to give each terrarium a fair chance, so I keep plants that like a wet tropical environment together and drier plants like succulents separate. If I'm unsure about a plant but love the look, I will start it off alone in its own self-contained vessel."

Steven's top terrarium tips

1. Mix at least two or three planting materials to build up each terrarium. His go-to items are moss, rocks, wood chips and standard planting soil. "I recently tried adding mushroom spores and have had some small success growing mushrooms in my environments."

2. Create a base or home for your plants with a piece of bark or a plant pod. If you can't find them in nature, look in the dried florals section in a craft or hobby shop.

3. You do need to water your terrarium, but not as frequently as a typical indoor plant. The greenhouse effect of the closed environment will recycle the water rather than having it evaporate into the air. "Seeing dew and water spots on the side of your terrarium is normal and part of its beauty! If you haven't seen dew in a while, it is time to give your plants a mist", Steven advises. For succulents, I only spritz them once a month."

4. For covered terrariums, remove the lid every now and then to let the plants get some fresh air.

5. If you purchase a plant that doesn't fit the vessel you intended or if it outgrows your terrarium, transfer it to a glass vase. "Use the rocks, moss and soil from the terrarium to build up the bottom of the vase. Place the rocks at the bottom to keep a reservoir of water for your plant."

6. These environments are hearty and will last all year round, but do require some attention and general maintenance. "Pluck off yellow and brown leaves from any plants."

7. Create balance. Steven's advice is to "stick to glass vessels and don't introduce too much colour. The beauty of this collection is the abundance of green and the sparkle of the glass.

8. Keep scale in mind. "My coffee table is large and can handle six pieces in varying sizes, but if you have a smaller table, try doing two or three terrariums in varying heights.I always walk around the table and examine every angle.  There is no 'front' to a coffee table, so make sure it looks good all the way around."

Thanks, Steven!

Leave it to our resident designer Steven Sabados to think outside the box and give us a living tablescape to inject some fresh energy into our family rooms. If you have an upholstered ottoman or pouf rather than a coffee table, Steven suggests to "try this on a console table or kitchen island. Any solid tabletop with window light will do. I've even been known to move one into the powder room when guests visit.  I have kept terrariums alive for years, so the possibilities are endless, move them around the house and find where the plants are happiest." With the frigid winters and hot summers here in Canada CBC Life can sure get behind plants that can stand up to all seasons.

Article curtesy of CBC Life and Lindsay Agnew