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Make your own terrarium

A local expert shows you how

A new do-it-yourself shop opened its doors a few months ago in the village of Fairport and is turning even novice gardeners into green thumbs. Jardin Terrariums, located at 13 North Main Street, is owned and operated by Kathleen Rullo and is the area’s only storefront dedicated to the art of container gardening.

Terrariums can add a decorative, fresh touch to any room given their low-light and low-maintenance requirements. Rullo celebrates the creativity that goes into each piece by encouraging her customers to come into her shop and build their own unique creations. She provides a few simple steps to follow in order to ensure the right environment is achieved for the plants to flourish. The following steps, when combined with one’s personal embellishments and creativity, will produce a decorative piece that anyone would be proud of.

Step one: the jar

When selecting a container for your terrarium, a clear glass jar of any size with a tight-fitting lid will work best. “As a kid I made a terrarium out of an old Maxwell House coffee container, and it lasted over fifteen years,” Rullo says, laughing. “My mom held onto it forever!” Although big box stores and craft supply places carry a variety of clear jars to choose from, Rullo says one can find unique options at antique stores, consignment shops, and flea markets. “It’s a good way to recycle goods and materials.”

Step two: stones and rocks

The bottom layer of the terrarium will be a base layers of stones to assist with water drainage and air circulation. Rullo has a large variety of stones available in her shop and likes to encourage her customers to get creative in their selections. From earth-toned pea stones to florescent aquarium gravel, layering in multiple selections with layers of sand will add visual interest to your base.

Step three: soil

As with any sort of gardening, choosing the right soil is imperative in order for plants to thrive in their new environment. Rullo recommends Vermi-Green Organic Compost, produced in Palmyra. “The right soil is a big deal,” Rullo says. “You want a nice base soil with good nutrients without added fertilizers. You want to keep the plants small and stunted.”

Step four: plants

On to the fun part, selecting what plants will live in the habitat you just created. You can visit local nurseries and look for plants in two-inch pots to transfer into your jar, or you can even dig up plants and moss from your own backyard. Generally one to three plants will fit inside one terrarium, depending upon the jar’s size. Plants that work well in container gardens include variegated spider ferns, nerve plants, and black mondo grass. Rullo suggests looking for plants with a low height and a low-to-medium light requirement.

Step five: landscaping and decorating

Now that your plants are transferred into their new home, you can landscape your creation. Living decorative elements, such as different types of mosses, combined with whimsical figurines give the terrarium personality. Rullo’s shop offers small dinosaurs, other animals, and decorative stones to help personalize each creation. A large example terrarium at the front of her store displays an elaborate playground scene complete with children flying kites and swinging on a swing set. Rullo says that themed terrariums are also quite popular. “You can create a beach theme with sand and shells, or a memory terrarium with small knick-knacks from a loved one.”

Step six: maintain 

Rullo says that terrariums are fairly low maintenance if displayed under proper conditions. “The key things to remember are to not place it in a sunny window and to not over water it” she stresses. A terrarium with a properly fitted lid will only need to be watered once every few weeks and will thrive in any room with a window or artificial light source, making it ideal for the home or office. 

For more information on Jardin Terrariums, visit

A low-maintenance gal with high-maintenance hair, Laura DiCaprio is a writer, media director, and amateur clarinetist living in Fairport.



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