Like an oasis in a desert, a small garden growing inside a glass container has an irresistible fascination. A terrarium encourages you to paint your own scene and mimic nature on a miniature scale.

The house’s dry, warm air in winter is not a handicap for plants in a terrarium where humid air is trapped. Since the moisture is so well preserved, your garden under glass almost never needs watering.

Tips for preparation and planting
Wash and polish the container to sparkle. Then layer charcoal, gravel and soil. For an extra touch, put a first liner moss with the green side out.

A good soil mix for terrariums is 2 parts loam, 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part leaf mold, not so rich in organic matter that plants will quickly grow out of limited space.

Before planting the terrarium, decide where to show it. If it is to be seen from one side, put back the larger plants; less up front. If seen from all sides, center the larger ones and surround them with smaller ones.

The most difficult step is the first watering. Moisten the soil (do not rinse it as you are plagued with mold). If in doubt about the right amount of water, stay on the dry side, as you can always add moisture if leaves show signs of wild.

Use the glass lid to control the humidity. If moisture is regularly condensed in appreciable amounts, remove the cover for a day or leave it partially open until excess moisture disappears. Place your glass garden in good light, but not in full sun, as this will catch too much heat and kill the plants.

Not all plants are suitable for terrariums. The high humidity would cause some to decay. The best plants are those that are native to forests and moored places. Listed below are some plants that need moisture, grow slowly and help create an interesting terrarium. Most should be ordered from herbalists who specialize in wild flowers.

Recommended for enclosed Terrarium team building are small sized ferns such as Polypodium vulgare, maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum) and Pteris (table ferns); mosses of almost all kinds; subsequent arbutus (Epigaea repens), rattle snake (Goodyera pubescens); plain and striped pipsissewas (Chimaphila); evergreen (Pyrola elliptica); gold wire (Coptis trifolia); hepatica; small yellow women’s shoes (Cypripedium parviflorum); and partridge berries (Mitchella repens). Several of the insecticides are also good terrarium specimens.