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5 steps to gorgeous homemade terrariums

WET TERRARIUM: Start with a layer of moss, then add a layer of rocks for drainage. Follow that with a layer of soil and then begin arranging your plants (like hyacinth and Silver Lace fern) until you get the look that you want.JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

Spring is here and with it comes aspirations of backyard gardens bursting with flowers and overflowing with a bounty of vegetables. Of course, for city dwellers, this can be a challenge. So where space is an issue, bring the outdoors in with simple-to-make terrariums that look great and are easy to care for. We assembled two different styles - a wet environment, which we filled with ferns and moss, and a dry environment, dotted with carefully arranged succulents. The best part of using succulents is that they’re very easy to care for; it seems the more you ignore them, the better they grow. Perfect for those lacking a green thumb. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build your own.

DRY TERRARIUM: Skip the moss and begin with rocks and a layer of soil. Use succulents like Jade plants and the fast-growing Hens and Chicks variety.PHOTOS BY JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

STEP 1: Place a layer of moss in the bottom of a glass jar (the one shown is from Crate and Barrel) or a wide-necked vase. The moss will help soak up any extra moisture in the bottom of the container. If you’re planting succulents, and going with a dry environment, you should skip this step.

STEP 2: Layer rocks for drainage.


STEP 3: Add a layer of dirt.

STEP 4: Arrange your plants. For the wet terrarium, we chose plants that like moisture and shade. Peperomia, hyacinth, and Silver Lace fern fit the criteria nicely, and another layer of moss completes the picture. For the dry terrarium, we stuck with succulents like Jade plants and the hardy, fast-growing Hens and Chicks variety, which were purchased at the Brattle Square Florist. We also ordered an assortment of smaller plants online from Etsy.

STEP 5: The terrariums should be placed in a bright spot, but kept out of direct sunlight. A spray bottle works best when watering the wet plants. The succulents should be watered about once every two weeks, or even less in the winter months. It’s important not to let their roots get soggy.



■ Use a spoon as sort of a small makeshift trowel while planting.

■ Simple glass canning jars work great as mini planters and look especially charming as centerpieces at a wedding or party. Just make sure to put a layer of rocks in the bottom to ensure proper drainage.

■ No rocks? No problem. We’ve seen crafty alternatives like bits of coral, sea glass, and broken up seashells for a nautical spin.

Nicole Cammorata can be reached at ncammorata@boston.com.