5 reasons you need a terrarium in your life (and apartment) ASAP

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | September 26, 2016 - 9:59AM

We get it: Not every New Yorker has the space—nor the time, dedication, space and, frankly, personality—to keep 500 plants alive in their apartment. Some of us, like this particular writer, limit themselves to one or two tops (which usually tend to die after just a few months).

But just because we don't exactly have green thumbs doesn't mean we can't see the benefits of living with plants. Rebecca Paredes, author of a beginner's guide to creating a terrarium on the website Green Future, says terrariums are the way to go for those with little time and space. 

What exactly is a terrarium? "They're tiny greenhouses; self-sustaining plant eco-systems," says Paredes. (She had us at "tiny.")

In the handy graphic at the bottom of this post, Paredes describes how to build and care for a terrarium of your own. She also gave us five reasons terrariums are ideal for NYC apartment dwellers:

1. They have a very small footprint.

You can create a terrarium in any clear glass vessel (it needs to be clear so sunlight can get in). You can either have an open or closed terrarium (closed just means it has a top). Paredes has used designated terrarium containers, mason jars, and coffee maker carafes.

2. They're low maintenance.

Building the inside of a terrarium takes potting soil, activated charcoal (which helps with drainage, and avoid root rot), a plant, and whatever kind of decorative elements you want. Paredes says she waters hers about once a month. "Anytime the soil or the leaves look dry, you want to water it," she says.

If you have a closed terrarium, and notice that therer's no condensation on the sides, or the soil and leaves look dry, spray down the sides. "You can't completely forget about it, but it's comparably low maintenance compared to having a flower," she says.

3. You can grow all different kinds of plants.

The plants you can use depend on whether you have a closed or open terrarium. A closed terrarium creates a humid environment, so plants like ferns and African violents thrive. Open terrariums are drier, so consider succulents, cacti, even herbs like thyme and mint, Paredes says.

4. You can get creative.

You can really make a terrarium your own, she says. Feel free to add pebbles of all colors (think: fish-tank style) and any other kinds of accessories.

5. They add a little bit of greenery to your apartment.

"It's a nice way to have a green plant in your place that doesn’t require a lot of work," says Paredes. And living with greenery is good for the air, good for your mood, boosts oxygen and can even makes you more productive.




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