Category Archive: Ferns

Success with Terrariums

Terrariums can add a touch of natural vibrancy to a well lit corner in any room of the house. They are very low maintenance and easy to look after.

A terrarium makes an ideal gift at any time of the year and you can buy one ready made, or make one yourself. Here is how:

For creating a terrarium you will need the following:



potting mix


ornaments (optional)

Place a layer of charcoal about 2cm thick, on the bottom. Next a layer of scoria, 1 cm thick. Pat it down well to stop the potting mix from working its way down. Next is the layer of potting mix. Some people also use sphagnum moss under the potting mix.

Remove the plants from their pots and sit in the terrarium in suitable positions and fill around them with potting mix and lightly firm down. With containers with narrow openings, you may need to use a stick or tongs, to facilitate you work in the terrarium.

Plant ideas: Small ferns, african violets, small indoor plants, begonia, hypoestes (freckleface), fittonia, succulents, cacti.

Use moss, baby’s tears, or even the weed liverwort as a groundcover.

Group similar plants together – cacti and succulents for example would create a much drier garden.

Usually, you would put the taller plants to the middle. Reducing a plants root ball sometimes in half, will keep the plant from getting too big too quickly. Don’t be afraid to cut back plants hard to also keep them more compact.

Lightly water in the new planting. An atomiser is ideal for watering terrariums as they turn water into a fine mist, giving a nice spread of moisture, but not getting your terrarium too wet. They require very little water. If there is condensation present, it is moist enough. If there is too much condensation, take off the lid for a few days and let it dry a bit. Some terrariums may have some openings without a covering. These may require more water.

Add any ornamentation you wish to add an extra dimension to the scene you have created. This may include pebbles, rocks, interesting pieces of wood, or even little  plastic or porcelain animals, buildings, people or anything really.

A position in diffused sunlight is preferred. Do not place in direct sunlight. Do not position close to heaters.

Maintenance – properly cared for, you terrarium will last for years. When plants grow too big, trim them back, or replace with smaller ones. Always remove any dead foliage. You won’t need to fertilise much, if at all. If you do, use a soluble fertiser and dilute at a rate at one fifth the strength of normal. Apply as a mist, and don’t overdo it.

Re-planting an existing terrarium – Remove all materials from the terrarium and discard. Scrub out the inside of the terrarium with a solution of vinegar and water, and rinse well.

It’s that easy to build your own little indoor plant kingdom. Even if you live in an apartment, you can still have a garden !

Planting in the fernery – Coin Spotted Tree Fern

By James Wall

We have a little fernery. The existing australis tree ferns have got a little tall and the area below them is looking a little bare. I am going to try a Coin Spotted Tree Fern or Cyathea cooperi.

An empty gap where we will plant our fern

Although this fern can get 4 or 5 metres high in its native area of the tropical lowlands of coastal Queensland and NSW, I am hoping its grows a bit slower down here in Melbourne, but alas one day may get a bit tall. It will be much skinnier in the trunk than my other 2 ferns so will still look quite effective.

It is called a coin spotted fern because when the old fronds are gone, they leave little stumps that look like coins. Some people also refer to it as the Lacy tree fern after its fronds. I love the way this young plants fronds furl over in a large curve.

The name cooperi was named after Sir Daniel Cooper (1821-1902). He was an elected into one of Australia’s first parliaments and became the first ever Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.












Our soil is rather sandy, and I guess summer is not the best time to be planting a fern. I was worried it was going to dry out. Then I had an idea – lets get some mulch blocks and plant the fern in coir peat.

Coir peat is made from the outer husk of the coconut. It absorbs moisture and is great in sandy soils. It is also a waste product that is being put to good use. It also comes from struggling economies like Sri Lanka, that need the economic help. They soak it in water to remove excess salts and then dry it and bail it extremely compacted to efficiently freight.

You simply add water, break it up a bit once it softens, and then it is ready to use. It makes a beautiful mulch on top of the garden, or can be incorporated into the soil like I have done with this fern.

I shoveled the coir it into the hole, planted the fern and put more coir all around it. That should do the trick.

Let’s hope it works and the fern thrives. Next time we will plant some ground cover ferns to further develop our little micro-climate of a fernery.

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