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How to Build a Fairy Garden or a Scary Spider Terrarium

Getting your kids out into the garden is a great way to limit screen time, keep them active and help them understand the importance of having a connection with the natural world.  It’s easier said than done though.  If you want to drag them away from the TV or tablet, you need something that’s going to capture their imaginations.  What better way of encouraging a lifelong love of all things green, grassy and in the garden than to help them to build their very own fairy garden or scary spider terrarium?   Best of all, fairy gardens and scary spider terrariums are so much quicker and easier to make than you might think!

What you will need

There are a few items that you’ll need to build your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium:

  • Sheets of Newspaper to protect your work space
  • A suitably-sized terrarium or glass container –We found a great selection at our local $2 shop
  • Small coloured pebbles – Try your local gardening supplier, hardware shop or aquarium supply shop
  • Horticultural charcoal (for a healthy balance in your terrarium)
  • Potting mix (bonsai mix works best, but you can also use any left-over potting mix you might have lying around)
  • Protective face mask (for working with the potting mix)
  • Gardening gloves and a small shovel or scoop
  • 3-4 small indoor plants (look for plants labelled suitable for a terrarium)
  • Fairy or spider-themed decorations depending on what you want to make (we used glow-in-the-dark spiders left over from Halloween for our scary spider terrarium)
  • A small spray bottle for watering your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium

How to put it all together

  1. Make sure that you protect your workspace with newspaper before starting
  2. You should carefully wash your terrarium and remove any stickers. Check to ensure that there are no sharp edges or chips in the glass that could cut someone
  3. Layer the bottom of the terrarium with 2 cm of coloured pebbles to ensure that there’s adequate drainage for the plants
  4. Wearing the face mask and gloves, spread a thin layer of horticultural charcoal over the pebbles
  5. Depending on the size of your terrarium, fill the container to about half way with the potting mix
  6. Remove the plants from their pots and arrange with the taller plants at the rear
  7. Add another layer of the coloured pebbles over the top of the potting mix
  8. Arrange your fairy or spider decorations amongst the plants to ensure that they’re the focal point of your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium.

Caring for your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium

Don’t forget to that your terrarium will need to be watered.  You can do this by giving it a few squirts in a regular basis using the spray bottle.  You should also keep your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium near a window so that it gets plenty of natural light.

Other terrarium ideas you can try

If you’ve got a budding palaeontologist, mix it up and build a dinosaur terrarium.  You can use plastic dinosaur figurines and carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps, sundews or miniature pitcher plants for an extra scary touch.  It’s important to remember that carnivorous plants have special requirements when it comes to water and food.  You need to read the plant labels carefully when making your selection.

Alternatively, try making an alien garden by using alien figurines in your creation. Silver or fluorescent-coloured pebbles and glow in the dark stars will create a convincing extra-terrestrial landscape.

Don’t forget that you can change the theme of your terrarium as often as you want without replanting:  Just by changing the decorations!

Terrariums – a great gift idea

Your fairy garden or scary spider terrarium would also make a great gift for someone special.  Don’t forget to give them some instructions about how to care for it properly.

Got some great ideas for a terrarium of your own?  Why not share them here?

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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