DIY Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Maidenhair Fern Terrarium

Maidenhair ferns are some of the most delicate plants to add in a terrarium. I’ve tried growing maidenhair ferns outside of a terrarium environment and all I have to say about it is that it’s not easy. They need a consistent level of humidity, the right lighting conditions, and easy draining moist soil. For beginners, this plant is probably a hard one to start off with, but given the right conditions, anyone can successfully grow their own.

bunch of terrariumsmaidenhair leavessilver dollar maidenhair fern details

What You’ll Need:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Horticultural charcoal
  3. Perlite
  4. Aquarium gravel
  5. Plants that enjoy constantly moist soil – Like maidenhair ferns!
  6. Glass jar with a top

Step 1: Aquarium Gravel

Fill the bottom of the jar about 3/4 of an inch with aquarium gravel.

aquarium gravel

Step 2 (Optional): Perlite

Perlite If you happen to have a lot of perlite on hand, feel free to layer it on top of the aquarium gravel. You can use about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of perlite on top of the gravel if you want. Perlite is a porous material that is used to help aerate potting soil. I have a ton of this so it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer if you have too much of it laying around. You can probably imagine what it’s like to live in a small apartment with a giant bag of perlite. I’m basically swimming in it.

Step 3: Horticultural Charcoal

I’ve tried making terrariums without this but having a substantial layer of charcoal certainly helps keep the water palatable for your plants. The charcoal helps keep algae and bacteria at bay so your plants remain healthy.\r\n\r\nhoffman brand horticultural charcoal

Step 4: Potting Soil

Mix about 1 cup of perlite to 2 cups of potting soil. It isn’t an exact science but the perlite helps regulate the moisture in the soil itself. Maidenhair ferns don’t like sitting in soil that is too soggy.

potting soil

Step 5: Add Your Plants

If you are adding a maidenhair fern, try to plant the fern in the middle of the jar. Try to situate the plant in a way where the fronds avoid contact with the sides of the glass jar. If the plant has direct contact with the glass on a constant basis, the condensation from the jar will irritate the fronds causing the edges of the fronds to turn brown.

nerve plant closeupPlants that work well with maidenhair ferns:

  • Nerve Plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii)
  • Parlor Palm (Neanthe bella)
  • Philodendron (there are so many types)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Ruby Red Club Moss (Selaginella erythropus)
  • Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
  • Peacock Plant (Calathea roseopicta)

Fungus gnat larvae eradication strategies

Today I’m going to discuss some of the difficulties I’ve encountered recently regarding fungus gnats. These pesky things resemble fruit flies but tend to be incredibly annoying and their larvae seems almost impossible to kill. Although growing terrariums can be very rewarding, containers that are kept constantly moist will almost inevitably be infested at one point by these creatures. Water-loving plants are a risk to these things and it doesn’t matter if they are kept inside or outside, the gnats somehow manage to find a way to your beloved plants.

gnatlife

Life cycle of the fungus gnat

Fungus Gnat Larvae

If you’ve been infested, you’ll see small worm-like white critters in your clear terrarium container. They move slowly and sometimes can go unnoticed. One single fungus gnat can lay 200 eggs at a time. Larvae thrive in moist conditions and feed on decaying plant matter. They have also been known to eat and destroy plant roots while spreading viruses and disease to your plants. So, you can imagine how loved these things are by yours truly. Plus, they look disgusting. Also, forget using a wide spectrum insecticide as these things are totally unfazed.

The lifecycle of the fungus gnat takes about 20 days from egg to maturity. So, killing them overnight is not likely.
Here’s what I’ve tried:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

I read online that 1 part peroxide to 2 parts water would kill larvae on contact. While this may seem like the case, it certainly also kills certain plants on contact too. I tried this and successfully killed several of my maidenhair ferns. The best part is that the larvae still seemed to survive.

2. Steam

I have a steamer and I read that this also kills larvae on contact. The larvae is said to live in the first 3 inches of topsoil and applying steam should kill them. Yes, this did kill a lot of them but not all. It also successfully killed some of my plants too, which definitely was not ideal.

3. Azamax

Azamax is like a concentrated version of neem oil and this too was unsuccessful. This was very harsh on the plants so I don’t recommend trying this to get rid of fungus gnats. Azamax would be best for treating thrips, spider mites and other types of pests that neem oil could remove. However, Azamaz should be reserved for severe infestations since neem oil is usually more than capable most of the time.

4. Gnatrol

Gnatrol is derived from the same bacteria that beneficial nematodes are known to spread when killing gnat larvae. Since I applied a wide spectrum insecticide when I originally planted my terrariums, the use of beneficial nematodes were out of the question. The insecticide kills beneficial nematodes, which is why you should opt for growing organically 100% of the time. Gnatrol is bacteria that kills larvae by making them stop eating. Larvae takes around 2 weeks to grow and Gnatrol isn’t an overnight solution, but it seems to be the most effective. I’ve seen complete eradication in some of my containers but I will need to continue to reapply the solution once every 5 days to the containers where I can still see larvae.

Gnatrol comes in a powder form and you need to mix it with water for application. Please note that if you are using tap water for the mixture, the bacteria that kills gnats will not be viable if mixed with chlorinated water. Most tap water is chlorinated, so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. In order for successful Gnatrol application, put water in a container and leave it open so the chlorine can evaporate. No need to filter the water in any special way… you just need to leave the container lid open or ajar for a day or two so the chlorine can escape.

fungus gnats image 3 fungus gnats image 2 fungus gnats image 1

Plant Spotlight: Plumosa Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

plumosa_full_alternate

The plumosa fern has bristle-like, long, layered and arching fronds.

plumosa_alternate

plumosa_fern_leaves

Today I’m presenting some info on the plumosa aka asparagus fern. They are delicate plants that tolerate a variety of conditions, making them very versatile for home interiors. Please note that in some areas, these are known as an invasive species. If you happen to live in an area that does not experience winter frost, you may not want to plant this outside.

As a native species of South Africa, the plumosa fern is actually part of the lily family. Each branch can grow between 18 and 24 inches in length. Overall, this plant is capable of reaching nearly 1 meter tall and wide. Visually, the plumosa fern offers an airy, layered appearance and responds well to pruning, which encourages additional growth. They also flower in the spring and are known to have fragrant white blooms. Plumosa prefers bright indirect light and well-draining soil. The brighter the light, the faster it will grow.

By the way, if you have pets, keep this one out of their reach. This plant is toxic to animals. It’s pretty and makes a lovely filler for floral arrangements, so it’s well worth adding to your home if you’re looking for something unique and easy.

Why my basil is so happy — Indoor Gardening Basics

I recently posted a picture of my basil plant on instagram. A fellow instagrammer (@hafaabdulcader) asked me about tips on indoor gardening. As a city dweller, it’s one of those fun things virtually anyone with access to a window and some light can do.

basil_plant

1. Neem Oil

This is good stuff. This all natural pesticide comes from the seeds of the neem tree. The Dyna-Gro Neem Oil brand was recommended by other gardeners online and it has great reviews on Amazon itself. It’s not expensive. I think I bought this off of Amazon for about $12.

I can completely understand why it’s so beloved. It’s super easy to use and effective. Indoor gardens are still vulnerable to pests. If you introduce a new plant into your home, you don’t always see issues until its too late. Use neem oil to coat the plant completely. Try to get it in all the nooks and crannies so that you can feel confident you are introducing a healthy plant into your collection. By the way, you can also water your plants with it too.

dyna_neem_oil

I wish I had known about this when I first started indoor gardening. I bought a beautiful gardenia and watched it die a horrible death by the wrath of dust mites. Dust mites are airborne and get transported to plants indoors by drafts, open windows, etc. Protect your plants with neem oil. It smells gross but it’s awesome.For more detailed information on neem oil, visit

For more detailed information on neem oil, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.

2. Basic Requirements

You probably can guess this one. Water and sunlight. The key to happiness of most living things in my opinion. Basil needs water — lots of it. This plant is always thirsty. Keep the water coming and it will keep growing — provided it has enough sunlight. Basil also loves sunlight. Right now it is positioned on the north side of my apartment. I believe this plant would do well facing north, east, or south. It probably could do well in a west facing window, but I can’t really be sure since I haven’t tried it myself.

3. Attention

Some plants need more, some need less, but it never hurts to be attentive. Some might say attention could go in the basic requirements section of this post, but I’m calling it out here for emphasis. Without attention, you may not know what you might need to adjust to keep you plant healthy. With basil, when it gets tall like mine, the bottom leaves start to yellow. This is normal and nothing that I worry about. If the leaves start to curl and you see a web-like structure happening around the leaves, you’ll likely need to intervene. I’ve never had any issues with basil. It’s one of my favorites to grow. It doesn’t take much to be happy, it smells great, and it’s oh so useful when cooking!