Monday 11 December 2017

What to Make for Gifts this Chrismas

One of the many challenges Christmas offers is gift giving, and in particular trying to find suitable gifts for over twenty relatives that you'll be seeing over the holidays. Most years about thirty guests have Christmas dinner with us and since I can remember my family has been providing them all with homemade presents. It even reached the stage where we considered creating our own brand, "Pathetic Homemade's". So far we have created bath crayons, jars of layered cookie ingredients, candles and much more. This year after my near-obsessive plant growing, we decided that a terrarium in a mug was a nice idea. A similar Hyacinth plant is currently available at M&S for £28 so, this is really a great way to save money whilst maintaining quality. So if you need inspiration or are considering a similar idea, here's how to do it!

You will need:
A medium/large container
The correct Soil depending on your choice of plant
Sphagnum Moss
Hyacinth Bulbs or other plants suitable for a terrarium
(The above products are available at UK garden centres or online)

The first thing to do is to decide on a suitable container for your plants to grow in. I have chosen a large mug for mine because of its plant pot colour, its sufficient room and also because the mug itself is an extra gift. I'd suggest washing the container before you begin to grow anything in it. Traditional terrariums are made of glass which allows you to see the various layers it consists off. If you prefer that idea or wish to save money you could use old jars for an equally successful and beautiful outcome.

Gravel should be the first layer you add at the bottom of your container. Because the terrarium doesn't have a drainage system, this is important in ensuring plants don't drown. I would say that the gravel should make up a little less than a third of all your layers. Ideally a thin layer of activated charcoal should then be added to keep everything healthy.

Next comes the soil. If your terrarium is made of glass, it is normal that the plants you choose will not protrude above the top of the container. You should be able to see them as if your jar is a little aquarium for plants. The level that the soil goes up to depends on preference. As mine is not transparent, I filled it nearly to the top. 

Often succulents are used because they need very little water. You can choose plants easily by googling which are suitable for a terrarium and picking the whatever takes your fancy. For this I used Hyacinth bulbs as they are able to grow in quite close proximity and produce fragrant flowers.

If replanting partially grown plants, simply dig a little space in the soil to plant them in. If using bulbs like myself, bury one third of the bulb in the soil, ensuring each is the correct way up.

Many people choose to put a moss layer beneath the soil to soak up excess water however I quite like the look moss creates as a top layer; it seems far more interesting to me. Two layers of moss could also be an option, there's no real strict rules here. Finally a little extra gravel has been used as an extra decorative feature.

The last thing to do before giving this away as a present, is to create a label/tag with instructions as to how to care for the plant. Make sure recipients of this gift are also advised against overwatering to prevent the plant from drowning. Good luck! I found creating this a really fun way to spent afternoon so I hope you do too. If anyone creates something similar, tag me on Instagram or Twitter so I'm able to see and I'll share it!

Since posting this I have been asking three of my friends to update me on the progress of their plants, here are the results so far:

Guy Fischman:

Clare Atherton:

My Own:


(click on images to enlarge)


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