Garden Writer Tovah Martin - author of The New Terrarium - speaking in Tulsa Feb 13 at 7 p.m. for OK Horticultural Society

Terrarium gardening is creating a small indoor garden using closed or partially closed clear containers. Their appeal is that they bring nature indoors while keeping the maintenance low. And, terrarium plants such as ferns and mosses thrive with the low light in most homes and offices.

Tovah Martin, author of The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature, will demonstrate this simple art during her talk in Tulsa on Feb 13.

Tovah Martin
Terrariums & You – how to used recycled containers to make indoor gardens
Tulsa Garden Center - Saturday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Martin's books will be available for purchase and autographs after her talk

In a phone interview, Martin said, I've been doing these for decades. At any given moment I have 20 or more on display in my home.

Terrarium plantings can be as simple as a single plant in a covered jar or as complex as a variety of plants in a large container with rocks, moss and miniature features like the ones seen in doll houses.

In the closed environment of a terrarium the plants water themselves. As they transpire, the moisture remains in the container, almost eliminating the need for additional watering.

Martin's book is overflowing with beautifully photographed ideas. Some are as simple as a vacation memory of a seashell in a glass block. Others are collections of plants.

All but two of the terrariums in the book are ones I designed, Martin said. I make them at workshops and then I can't part with them.

Other books by Tovah Martin include: Tasha Tudor's Garden, The Ways of Flowers and A Time to Blossom: Mothers, Daughters and Flowers.

The plants that are suited to a terrarium include mosses, ferns, baby tears, Saxifraga (strawberry geranium), Venus flytrap, African violet, Heuchera, creeping Charlie or miniature impatiens.

In open bowl-type terrariums choose pitcher plant, air plant, Ajuga, ivy, creeping fig, maidenhair vine, flame violet, herbs, or ornamental grasses such as fiber-optic grass.

Terrariums can be made on a budget, Martin said. Begin with ferns and mosses. The high humidity of the terrarium is just right for them.

A cloche is a clear glass bell shaped plant topper that was originally used to protect early spring plants outside. Today, a glass cloche is primarily used to top terrariums.

In her talk, Martin is going to demonstrate how to create terrariums. Here's what you will need -

- Container - jar, aquarium, vase, glass block, candy dish.
- Charcoal - purchase at aquarium supply store or garden center
- Pebbles, gravel, marbles, seashells
- Sterile potting mix (Orchid mix contains charcoal)
- Optional moss and decorative items for the top

Start by putting on gloves and placing sheet moss and decorative stones on the bottom of the container to help with drainage. Top with about one-fourth inch charcoal.

Add some soil or orchid mix.

Check the plants for insects, dead leaves or spent flowers and prune. Plants from the store often have a few inches of roots. Feel free to root prune them. Untangle the roots and trim them by half their length.

Arrange the plants in the container. Martin suggested using a barbeque skewer with a cork stuck on the end to help tamp soil around plants in deep containers.

Fill in with potting soil or orchid mix to the top of the plant's soil line, completely covering the roots. Top with moss and decorative items.

Water with a spray bottle, letting the water wash down the inside of the container to remove any soil. has a wide variety of terrarium plants, including a sampler of 10 plants for $25. If you want something specific, try for links to several providers.

The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin, 176 pages, published 2009 by Crown Publishing – Clarkson Potter. $25 retail or $17 online.


I also interviewed Tovah too. I found her engaging. Love the book. Wrote about it on the blog. I believe Russell S. also interviewed her via email.~~Dee

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