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  • Writer's picturePaige Latham Didora

[craft & craft] terrariums and a dopplebock

[craft & craft] is a segment featuring a crafty project – with a craft beer pairing of course! Look forward to a variety of projects from lumber to thread.

One of the many sure signs of spring for me, aside from the influx of Maibocks and other spring seasonal beers, is the Macy’s Flower Show in downtown Minneapolis. This week I visited the beautiful and aromatic display with my family — twice. We really like flowers in our family.

It was so inspirational and refreshing after many cold winter months. As I began taking notes on interesting plants, I quickly realized that many of the displays were of plants that would not thrive indoors or in the frigid Minnesota winters.

stag terrarium

Terrariums can seem intimidating, and I will admit that not all miniature ecosystems are easy to maintain. But with some practice, planning, and creativity, terrariums can be a joy and add a sense of miniature life to any home.

Not convinced? The simple arrangement at left involves no planting at all! Follow along for a few examples of varying diffilculty requiring anything from benign neglect to regular care and keeping.

Terrarium craft book

First, pick a vessel. They can range from very small to quite large, but clear glass is best. The focus should be on what’s inside.

Consider the items you want to fit inside and let them dictate the form of the glass.

Next, choose the plants. Terrariums can be dessert-dry or very humid, almost swamp-like. The best plants are very small, but I typically arrange larger plants around the terrarium itself, too.

Plant ideas large and small

Plant ideas large and small

Consider small succulents, ivy, carnivorous plants, ground covers like baby’s tears, tiny herbs, airplants, and other miniatures.

If you like succulents, you most likely want to attempt a dry terrarium – one with sand, no lid, and out of direct sun. Bear in mind, however, that the conditions should match whatever the specific plant requires. Dry terrariums are good for beginners because some issues such as mold and maintaining humidity are avoided.

Finally, pick the other special or found objects that you want to display. Create a composition of sorts. My photo above shows a nesting silver bird, a dry magnolia leaf, pine cones, finch figurines, cuts of birch, a special nail forged at the Fort Snelling blacksmith demonstration, and a bronze rabbit.

Samuel Adams Dopplebock

For this project, I chose a malty dopplebock because of the gloomy weather with tiny peaks of sun. It is sweet and slightly warming which was nice while I was crawling around on the chilly concrete floor.

The Samuel Adams Double Bock is very malty and sweet with a classic German character and complexity. According to Samuel Adams, each bottle is brewed with almost enough grain for an entire loaf of bread, which is quite a visual!

Okay! On to the gardening-in-miniature.

sand rocks pebbles

One very mundane yet extremely important step is to clean the glass very well. Any streaks or other out-of-place items are like weeds in a garden. When working in this scale, it is critical to be meticulous.

Drainage is also key. There is really nowhere for water to go except for – ideally! – into the plant. So use pebbles, decorative rocks, and sand for more than just decoration!

I always have soil, pebbles, tiny decorative rocks, and sand on hand during terrarium assembly. I found the sand at IKEA, but it can also be found at craft stores in many colors.

Now is the fun part! Take a few sips of beer, it helps with creative flow. I filled the bottom of the vessel with grey sand, followed by larger pebbles. This terrarium will contain an airplant, so no water will actually go in the glass making it fuss-free. I added some fluffy grey moss (preserved/dried) for texture followed by a rock that is acutally petrified wood from New Zealand. Finally, the airplant goes in and — voila! — easy.

airplant terrarium

Looking for something slightly more traditional? Try an arrangement of plants potted with soil and moss:

Again I cover the bottom of this flat glass container with pebbles, not for looks but for drainage, because that tropical pink and green ivy loves water. The succulent however, does not, so this one was more of a gamble!

forest terrarium

After planting, add some caribou moss and something else of interest. It could be a stone or crystal, a figurine or something else. I added a pewter bird ( “did someone say ‘bird’?” – cat )

This vessel has a lid but I will keep in uncovered for the succulent. Fingers crossed!

Finally, see the photos below of a simple succulent in rocks and pebbles, planted below the surface.


Sources: Airplants (and tips on them!) plus rocks and sand : Spruce Flowers, Edina or S. Mpls / Tiny plants : Bachman’s, S. Mpls / Trinkets and found items : Hunt and Gather, S. Mpls / Glass containers and more: Roger Beck Floral, E. Lake St.


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