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Build Your Own Organic Diorama Terrarium Part 2

This tutorial was written by Thyrza Segal who sells her own custom made (and quite beautiful) terrariums. She also offers workshops on terrarium making. Check out her website here: PlantScapes where you can also see and purchase her Polymer Clay accessories and aliensThyrza


Step 5- Plant

I have had the best success with:

  • Mini palms
  • Nerve plant
  • Peperomia
  • Pilea (nothing kills this one it seems)
  • Saliginella
  • Asparagus fern
  • Table fern (a little delicate but not the worst)
  • Begonia Rex- here is a link to a planting method for Begonia Rex that has worked for me http://www.flickr.com/photos/begonias-photos/sets/72157604116017686/


Tillandsia Cyanea which I have never worked with before

For this tutorial I am using a Tillandsia Cyanea The research says it likes moisture and a humid environment so we shall see. It takes in nutrients through it's leaves like the tillandsias that don't need any soil but this one likes to be planted.

Tillandsia Cyanea which I have never worked with before.


I am also using some unidentified tropical plant with the most amazing purple leaves. . I don't know what it likes best for an environment but it sure looks nice.whatever it is.

Caption : Awesome purple leafed tropical plant


Bathing the soil off the plants.

Dig a little hole.

Swish the plant around in some distilled or rain water to wash off most of the soil the plant came with. Picture at left shows Bathing the soil off the plants.


Planted Tropical

Gently squeeze the excess water off of the roots and pop it in the hole . Tamp a bit more soil on top to cover the roots.

Picture - Caption: Planted tropicals

You may have to spread the roots to make it work in shallow soil.


Step 6- Moss Mixture


Thin layer of moss soil on top of terrarium soil so the moss feels at home

Once the plant is in sprinkle some moss mixture soil around it

Picture - Caption: Thin layer of moss soil on top of terrarium soil so the moss feels at home.

This soil is ideally the soil that came from under the moss you collected. Moss is temperamental and likes its natural soil conditions the best.

The moss needs to have full adhesion to the soil under it so the rhizoids are protected- the terrarium mix is too light and too much air gets at the underside of the moss I think.

Moss likes an acidic soil so I add sulpher dust to potting soil when the original soil is not available.


Moss mixture ingredients:

  • Potting soil
  • A bit of sand
  • Clay from my front yard but it would be better to use some sanitary clay from somewhere- maybe you can microwave it- just to get the critters out)
  • Sulpher dust- (consult container for amount)


Step 7- Moss


-You can grow your own by blending a handful of moss with equal parts buttermilk and water and add a tablespoon or so of sugar. Or Collect from privately owned land with the owner's permission.
-Don't steal from Stanley Park- Karma will get you..
Press the moss down and make sure it gets in full contact with the dirt under it.
-Spray with water and squish it down again

There are dozens of different kinds of mosses once you start really looking- the two I have here I have named "Muppet Hair" and "Feather Boa". I know they have real names but I have not looked them up.


removing all signs of the wilderness

Remove unsightly pine needles with tweezers.

Removing all signs of the wilderness


Step 8- Clean your container

Spray a paper towel with glass cleaner to clean the glass-It will be full of dirt from the planting. Use a paintbrush to brush the dirt off of your plants. I didn't have to in this case as the glass goes on last.

Let's Continue with this terrarium making tutorial