How to make festive terrariums

Embrace green this holiday season with a festive terrarium for your home. 

By Tara Nolan

How to make festive terrariums
Photography by Joe Kim
Every holiday season, nurseries and flower shops stock the usual suspects: poinsettias, Christmas cacti, amaryllises and paperwhites. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for tradition. 

I'll sing along to "A Holly Jolly Christmas" with Burl Ives at least once this year, but it's fun to mix things up every now and then.

Click here to see a larger image of the terrariums.

When you're selecting your festive florals, take a detour to the tropical plant section. While bromeliads, such as air plants, and succulents, such as hens and chicks (Sempervivum), might not seem particularly merry, they are marvellously low-maintenance and therefore the perfect choice for those who have trouble keeping houseplants alive. What's more, they adapt well to terrariums, miniature indoor gardens, which can be given a seasonal twist with a few easy steps.

Here are two ways to make hanging terrariums that double as unique holiday decorations and make great gifts to boot. Your budding junior gardeners will have a great time helping you make these living ornaments, and their little fingers might come in handy when positioning the plants!

1. Air-plant ornament
A clear glass Christmas tree bulb is like a mini greenhouse that provides the right amount of humidity for air plants. Remove the silver hook attachment from the top of the ornament, place the air plant inside (bottom end first) and use tweezers to manoeuvre it into place. Replace the hook attachment and hang the ornament in a bright location, but avoid direct sunlight. Use tweezers to gently remove the air plant (bottom end first) from the ornament once a week. Turn it upside down under the faucet and saturate it with water.
Air plant, bonsaistore.ca.
Bulbs, Michaels.com.

2. Seasonal succulents

A hanging terrarium provides the perfect environment for succulents 
as well. Remove the succulent from its pot, gently removing all soil from the roots. Place the succulent in the hanging terrarium vessel and surround the roots with enough coloured sand or pebbles to cover them. Smooth the surface of the sand or pebbles with a spoon, then hang the ornament with a festive ribbon. Mist the succulent lightly with water about every 10 days, 
but avoid oversaturating it to prevent rotting.

More festive florals – with a twist!

•Arrange yellow pincushion flowers (Proteas) in a small vase and place it in the centre of a larger similar-shaped clear glass vase. Fill the space between the two vessels with sprigs of Fraser fir, trimmed to fit.
•Provide visual interest while you wait for your amaryllis to bloom by surrounding the bulbs with a ring of plants that have colourful or textured foliage, such as Dracaena.
•Plant red violets (Viola) in tiny terra-cotta containers and use them as place card holders at your holiday table. Guests can take their pots home as parting gifts.

Tara Nolan is the web editor of canadiangardening.com. She loves to garden, but takes personal offence when a plant has the audacity not to grow.

We have more festive floral arrangements you can make at home, including a pearl pomander

All rights reserved. Transcontinental Media G.P. © 2014