People have definitely heard the word “Terrarium” before but might not understand what exactly goes into making one. Terrariums are self-sustaining ecosystems that generate their own climate, water cycle, and environment within a self-contained container. We are here to help you construct the perfect terrarium for your home!
Terrariums are miniature Gardens enclosed in glass or clear plastic. Access to outside air is typically strictly limited or non-existent (in closed terrariums) Moisture by plants is given off through transpiration, which then condenses on the glass walls and runs down to moisten the soil. The key to repeating this process and having your terrarium become self-sustaining is to create a seal at the top so that moisture and humidity do not escape the confines of the glass container.
Step 1: Picking your Container
A good terrarium container is anything that is clear and has a cover, or a cover can be placed on it. Look for the perfect glass or plastic container that matches the decor of your home. The opening of the glass can be big or small, depending on what size plants you prefer to add. Many household items make perfect terrariums such as glass bottles, jars, empty candle holders, etc.
Step 2: Constructing your Terrarium
The key to making a healthy environment in your terrarium is to work in layers. Each layer of a terrarium serves a specific purpose for the transpiration cycle to become self-sustaining.
- First, add 1/2-1″ of coarse sand, gravel, or pebbles. This is the drainage layer that will capture excess moisture.
- Add a thin layer of charcoal granules. Charcoal keeps odors from developing.
- Add a layer of Sphagnum Moss. Moss keeps soil from seeping into the drainage layer.
- Add 1/2-1″ of well-draining, fertile potting soil.
Step 3: Build your Terrarium
No special tools are needed to plant your terrarium, silverware will work just fine (unless you are planting in a narrow opening or a long-necked bottle). You should begin by adding your preferred plants. Simply dig a small hole and use a spoon to cover the roots with soil. For a more interesting design, use an odd number of plants. this will heighten the organic nature of the terrarium. Try not to crowd the plants too much as they will grow into each other.
After you have added your plants, there are a number of different decorative options that can be added to a terrarium to really enhance the aesthetic you are going for. If you are trying to create a more naturalistic environment, sticks and rocks are a great addition. Some people may prefer to add small statues or figurines to create a more fantastical aesthetic.
Once you have decides on your terrarium’s aesthetic, add water to a spray bottle and spray the sides of the container and the leaves of the plant. Once complete, seal your terrarium and observe it for several days to ensure the water level is enough to generate moisture without drying out. If you feel you need more moisture, simply spray more water and reseal. Once the cycle is successful, place your terrarium in bright indirect light, as direct sunlight can potentially destroy the internal temperature of your terrarium.
These terrariums should last for months if not years when done correctly!
If you are having difficulty sourcing the substrate materials for your terrarium, we have everything you need here at the garden center! Simply stop by our North Branford location and we will help you with whatever you need.
As we know, plants have a few key necessities they require for survival, like water, soil, food, humidity, temperature, and sunlight. But much like people, the amounts of each of these vary greatly between plants. Because we know that plants require sunlight to perform photosynthesis, it can be difficult to understand that sometimes plants can receive excessive or insufficient sunlight. For some plants, it is as simple as placing the pot on the windowsill and moving on, but for others, it can be a more complicated mix of lighting requirements. In this guide, we will walk you through some of the specifics when it comes to keeping your houseplant healthy and well-lit.
Different Types of Light:
Bright Light (Direct Sun) This comes from those south-facing windows in your home which receive direct light all day long. These will be the brightest areas in your home.
Bright Indirect Light This can either be filtered light from a south-facing window or light that’s just to the side of a south-facing window.
Medium Light Medium-light can typically be found in the interior of a room where there’s south or east-facing windows providing light.
Low Light Areas in your home which are near north-facing windows or those dark corners of a bright room can be defined as low light areas.
Little to No Light Rooms with no windows at all or rooms with windows where the sunlight is being blocked by a tree or building fall into this category.
It is important to understand where the light in your home is coming from and how intensely it shines. Plants can be very sensitive to changes in light.
There’s nothing worse than bringing a new plant home, and after a week or two having it start to develop crispy leaves or seeing the leaves start to turn yellow. These can be signs that your plant isn’t happy with the light it’s getting.
Not Enough Light: Have you ever seen a plant growing lopsided with all of the new growth leaning toward a window? This is the plant saying it needs more light. Limbs that appear leggy or otherwise stunted growth are sure signs that your plant needs more light. Additionally, if you see yellowing or dropping of leaves, that can also be an indicator of poor light.
Too much light: Similar to the way we get a sunburn, plants exhibit similar characteristics when they’re exposed to too much sun. If your plant develops brown, crispy leaves (especially at the tips), or you notice burned patches on the plant, you might want to try moving your plant to a darker area.
Keep in mind that some of the above symptoms like leaf drop can be caused by a few things, so lighting may not necessarily be the culprit. Check your plant for signs of over or under watering, and look for bugs or disease as well as lighting conditions. When in doubt, call us or pay us a visit. We’re always here to help.
Corners: Many people like to place their plants between two windows on a corner table or, if you have a fiddle leaf fig, standing in the corner of a room or space. The problem, in this case, is that the light arcs around the plant and deprive the plant of the necessary light it needs. Consider low light houseplants for room corners.
Which Plant for Which Lighting?
Bright Light (Direct Sun)
- String of Pearls
- Crown of Thorns
Bright Indirect Light:
- Norfolk Island Pine
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Money Tree
- Palms (Most)
- Rubber Tree
- African Violet
- Spider Plant
- Cast Iron Plant
- Snake Plant
- ZZ Plant
- Chinese Evergreen
- Peace Lillies
- Polka Dot Plant
Little to No Light
- Snake Plant
- ZZ Plant
If you have any concerns about light or which plant might work best for your space, drop in for a little VanWisdom from our houseplant experts!
Choosing the right houseplant can be difficult depending on where you live. Some homes have little window space, others run too cool or dry, and others might be too hot. In these instances, you may feel limited in your houseplant selection when you would prefer something like a Croton, but have to settle for a Snake Plant instead. There is a plant, however, that seems to thrive in that goldilocks zone of houseplant care: The Peperomia! Check out some of our favorite species below:
Peperomia ‘Fuzzy Mystery’
Peperomia Caperata ‘Schumi Red’
Peperomia Caperata ‘Napoli Night’
Peperomia ‘Variegated Upright’
We hope you love Peperomia just as much as we do. we are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting variegations and varieties. Keep checking in at our North Branford location to see what’s new!
We hope to see you soon!
When it comes to finding the perfect houseplant for your space, it is important to take every factor into consideration. Plants are living things that need sunlight, water, and food, and while it is important to make sure your plants are being cared for and remain healthy, it is equally important to keep the other living things in your house just as safe. Of course, we are talking about your pets and kids–any living thing that might possibly ingest plant material without you knowing.
There are hundreds of thousands of plants in the world, and while we might not always have the bandwidth to study the biological effects of those plants on humans and animals. Thankfully, we can turn to the ASPCA for these concerns. the ASPCA has compiled a list of plants (both indoor and outdoor) that fall under two categories: toxic, and non-toxic. These lists focus on plants both toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.
You can check out the list for yourself here: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List
What Are Some Common Side Effects?
When our pets are feeling unwell, an illness can present itself in a number of ways. It is also important to remember that animals may have different reactions to different plants. If you know you have a toxic plant in the home, here are some important symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Increased Heart Rate
- Slow Heart Rate
- Liver Failure
- Loss of Appetite
- Swelling and Burning Tongue
- Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing
- Rarely, Death
It is important to call poison control immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet. It is equally important to investigate the houseplant for any teeth marks or tears. Even if you don’t see any noticeable marks–depending on the plant–your pet may have eaten an entire leaf, so ingestion cannot always be ruled out.
For the ASPCA poison control, call 888.426.4435 Or you can download the Animal Poison Control App
Tips and Tricks to Keep Pets Safe
When it comes down to it, there are some pretty easy ways to keep our pets safe from potentially toxic plants. With dogs, plants can simply be moved to a higher elevation as most dog breeds won’t be able to reach on top of a shelf or countertop in pursuit of the plant. Horses are even easier to care for, as toxic plants can simply be removed from barns or open areas where the horse roams.
The real culprits, unfortunately, are cats. They may be adorable but they can be devious. Cats are agile creatures and can reach indoor heights that dogs cannot, so in most instances, these traditional methods of simply “moving plants out of reach” don’t really work on cats. Here are some special tips and tricks to avoid exposing your cat to potentially toxic plants:
- Move Plants to Other Rooms: Sometimes the most obvious solution is the one that works the best! If you have a room in your home that you don’t let your cat into unless supervised, simply place your plant in that room so that your cat will have no access and never become curious of the plant.
- Place the Plant in an Impossible to Reach Spot: If you have an area of your home that your cat simply cannot reach (no nearby footholds) then your plant may thrive there. Just ensure the plant receives adequate light and water.
- Move Plants to an Indoor Greenhouse: If you want to collect plants you know are toxic to your pets, there are purchasable indoor greenhouses, as well as DIY videos on how to create the perfect indoor greenhouse fit for your home. You can always ask us for extra advice on indoor greenhouse necessities and resources.
Non-Toxic Plants We Carry:
According to the ASPCA and the guidelines set on their database, Van Wilgen’s has a number of plants in stock at our glasshouse that have been deemed non-toxic. Please note that even non-toxic plants might cause minor irritation and nausea for your pet, so it is always important to take the ASPCA’s database into consideration prior to making a determination for what is right for your pet.
- Boston Ferns
- Ponytail Palms
- Hoya Plants
- Button Ferns
- Prayer Plants (Calatheas)
- Burros Tail
- African Violets
- Parlor Palms
- Spider Plants
For more information on houseplant toxicity for your pets, visit the ASPCA. We hope to see you soon!
Let’s all be honest, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, what is the number 1 gift we tend to give? If you were thinking of flowers you are right! Cut flower arrangements can be absolutely beautiful and grandiose, however, while they are pretty, they tend to only last for 7-12 days. Many people don’t realize, but there are a ton of beautiful houseplants that last way longer than cut flowers. Here are some of our favorite Valentine’s Day houseplants:
If you are thinking of a quintessential flowering houseplant that comes in a multitude of colors–both solid and variegated–then you’ve come to the right place! Orchids can produce multiple flower spikes on one stem and with some fertilizer and pruning, they will flower every year.
One might not consider daisies as an indoor plant, but these sun-loving houseplants are extremely hardy to early spring indoor conditions and thrive on the windowsill. the flowers of this plant come in a variety of warm colors like pink, orange, and red. These flowers will bloom until the harsh temperatures of the summer.
Named for its heart-shaped leaves, this hoya is the perfect plant to represent the season of love. These hoya will continue to grow as time goes on and will produce new shoots and leaves. Eventually this plant will resemble the more traditional hoya shape and structure with longer vines that drape over the edges of the pot.
These begonias are a beautiful winter-spring flowering plant that come in an assortment of colors like red, pink, and yellow. These plants make perfect windowsill additions and will add a touch of bright spring color to the home well after Valentine’s Day has passed.
We hope to see you picking out some Valentine’s Day favorites soon!
As plant lovers and gardeners, we are no strangers to putting a ton of TLC into our plants, whether it’s through pruning, watering, or fertilizing. But for as much as we give our plants, the same could be said in return!
When it comes to houseplants, there are some surprising benefits that we might overlook. Of course, the largest draw for owning indoor plants is an aesthetic one, who doesn’t love to decorate? Aside from brightening up your home, however, houseplants have been known to aid in the following:
1. They Improve Air Quality
There are many different species of houseplants that are known to be excellent air-purifiers, capable of scrubbing the air of harmful household toxins that can come from cleaning supplies and cigarettes. Houseplants also are great at producing fresh oxygen within the home and are capable of humidifying the air, making them ideal for those dry winter months.
2. Lower Stress Levels
Houseplants are capable of promoting brain activity that is known to reduce both physical and psychological stress. Tending to houseplants and their upkeep has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Can be Therapeutic and Meditative
Similar to how plants reduce stress, they can also minimize symptoms of certain mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Just as we care for pets to reduce the impact of mental illness, taking care of plants can also promote a stronger sense of positive mental health.
4. Boost of Productivity
In certain studies, houseplants have been shown to contribute to an increase in work ethic, studying, and other types of productivity. When people are less stressed, they are able to focus on tasks and projects easier, making houseplants like Snake Plants and Orchids perfect for office spaces and dorm rooms.
With so many benefits, it isn’t hard to see why houseplants are such a must for homeowners and renters. If you are looking for a mood booster, stop by our heated greenhouse; we will be more than happy to help match you with the perfect houseplant for your needs!
Give the Gift of Gift Cards
With Christmas quickly approaching, last-minute gift-giving is increasing every day. For the gardeners in our lives, giving the gift of a Van Wilgen’s Gift Card can open the door to endless possibilities. From houseplants to annuals, shrubs to spades, decorative soap to garden statues, Van Wilgen’s has so many choices for adding a decorative touch in and around the home. A Van Wilgen’s Gift Card can take the guesswork out of finding the perfect gift.
Do you have that one room in your home where all of your houseplants wind up because all the others are too dark? Or have you been avoiding houseplants altogether due to poor natural light? For those dark rooms and homes, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite low-light houseplants that’ll thrive even if conditions are less than sunny.
Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, Monstera plants feature beautiful heart-shaped foliage with dramatic openings in the leaves (known as leaf fenestration).
These beautiful plants feature unique, waxy leaves and vibrant bracts in a wide range of colors.
There are so many different varieties of Calathea, or Prayer plant, to choose from, all with striking patterns and colors which are sure to make a statement in any home.
Perfect for beginners, Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema) produce large showy leaves, and are extremely easy to care for.
Featuring delicate white bracts atop deep green foliage, Peace lilies are excellent choices for even low-light offices and are known for purifying the air.
Talk about an easy plant to care for! Snake plants have tough, sword-like foliage which ranges in color from deep greens to dusty sage and even stripes of yellow.
Also known as the dragon plant, Dracaena features dramatic striped foliage.
Arguably one of the easiest houseplants to take care of, Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, thrives on neglect. Place your plant up high, and enjoy the continuously trailing foliage as part of your own indoor jungle!
Bird’s Nest Fern
Beautiful wavy fronds in a bright, lime green color make this fern a must-have in any low-light space!
Create your own personal indoor rainforest with these dramatic, far-reaching leaves. Adding one of these to your space adds instant impact!
Another excellent choice for experts and novices alike, ZZ plants feature thick, shiny green leaves that start out lime green before turning a beautiful deep hue. It’s just the thing to brighten up any dark space!
When it comes to houseplants, do you feel like you don’t have a green thumb? NO problem we say! Easy Care plants are for everyone. At Van Wilgen’s we want you to be a successful gardener. Our glasshouse hosts many indoor plants that are sturdy, durable, and low maintenance. What have you got to lose? Why not bring a little color and life into your home with one of these indoor plants.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
We know you can do it!