Secrets of Companion Planting
If you've ever wondered about companion planting, this book explores it all: Roses Love Garlic: Secrets of Companion Planting with Flowers, by Louise Riotte (Garden Way Publishing, 1998; $15). Besides being fun reading, it thoroughly explains how flowers help or hinder other flowers and lists the most successful combinations of plants.
Create a Terrarium
An air-tight container such as a large mouthed jar with a tight fitting lid, or an old aquarium.
Sterilized peat-based potting soil
Plants of your choice
Decorative items such as small shells, stones, or pieces of wood
To begin the project, wash the container well and dry it thoroughly. Place a layer of small stones on the bottom of the container and add a layer of activated charcoal to help keep the soil sweet. Sterilized peat-based potting soil will be your planting media. Moisten it well and squeeze out excess moisture, then place it over the charcoal layer to a depth of at least 3 to 4 inches. You can create a landscape effect by making hills and valleys with the soil and using small shells, stones or pieces of wood for decoration.
Choose plants with smooth (non-hairy) leaves such as ferns, baby's tears, creeping fig, Pilea or Fittonia. (Plants with fuzzy leaves are prone to mildew and other fungal diseases.) Dig small holes in the soil and place the plants in them, firming the soil gently around the roots. Make sure that plants are not touching the sides of the container.
Place the lid on the container when you're finished planting and put your new terrarium in a bright area out of direct sunlight and enjoy.
Terrariums require a minimum of care if they are kept sealed. The moisture that plants absorb from the soil is given off through the leaves by the process of transpiration. This condenses on the glass walls and runs down to moisten the soil again. The atmosphere also remains balanced through the combined plant processes of photosynthesis and respiration. A well-constructed terrarium requires only light and warmth to flourish.
Terrariums are fun to make and can become great gifts for your gardening friends.