Gardening: Terrariums offer gardening space in any environment

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News
This glass container makes a nice home for succulents.

Indoor gardening is a hot trend these days and millennials have jumped on the bandwagon. They realize the very presence of live greenery is a perfect way to soften the hard edges of the now-popular mid-century modern decor, along with providing healthy benefits of building oxygen and relieving stress.    

Unfortunately, many lack the space to grow large plants, but a spot for a miniature garden can be found almost anywhere – be it a dorm room, a hallway, a wall or hanging container. 

 And in the new book "Creative Terrariums: 33  Mini-Gardens for Your Home" (Fox Chapel) by the popular DIY blogger for renters ( ), Enid G. Svymbersky, gives easy to read step-by-step building instructions. Every project features  inexpensive materials and easy to find plants. Also included are tips and tricks for creating your own stylish mini-gardens. 

Svymbersky scours garage sales, resale establishments, and discount stores for inexpensive and interesting containers unlike the terrariums popular in the '70s. A photo of her empty glass coffee pot terrarium filled with air plants  went viral and inspired this book.

The creations are not limited to enclosed terrariums. Tall, open top glass containers are also part of the mix.  Almost anything that will hold soil can be used. A clear glass mason jar could be the beginning of a kitchen garden for those who enjoy the country look. Fish bowls work anywhere.

A list of tools and how to use them is invaluable as is a section on care and troubleshooting. 

A source list with brick and mortar stores as well as mail order supplies is also a great resource. I shop the Dollar Store for containers as well as small bags of colored sand, stones and pebbles and other good stuff.     

The good news is Svymbersky focuses on two of the most popular plants in the marketplace – succulents and air plants, and they are inexpensive and easy to find. Moss is also a popular choice and a good place to start for beginners and those who are plant challenged. 

While you don’t have to be a fairy lover, when shopping for dwarf plants an independent garden center with a fairy garden department is a good place to start. Along with succulents and air plants, hybridizers have developed all kinds of tiny ferns and other plants that are great for use in a mini garden.

Anyone interested in getting kids hooked on plants will find a wealth of easy to do projects in "Creative Terrariums," so it makes a great gift for all ages.

 Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at