Working with your hands to create something is a kind of magic that can to lift up the spirits. Whether you are making a craft for a loved one or creating something for yourself, artistry is an act of self-love. 

As part 2 in our series on social distancing with plants, we wanted to give you an opportunity to get your fingers in the dirt. Here are some DIY plant projects you can easily create while practicing social distancing in your home.

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

DIY Plant Projects for Social Distancing

Build a Terrarium

Terrariums are little living worlds of their own. We like to build them in bubbles made of glass so we can watch them grow. This is a great DIY plant project for kids to observe over time.

In broad strokes, there are two types of terrariums typically: open terrariums that require periodic watering, and closed terrariums that are a little bit trickier to build but require very little maintenance if done correctly. Here we have made a step by step process for building an open terrarium. 

Before we begin, it is important to consider the type of plants you want to include; make sure to choose plants that have similar light and watering needs so they can thrive together on your watering schedule. 

  • Step 1: Determine the best type of plants for your space. If you have a place in mind for your terrarium, consider how much sunlight that spot gets. Do the shadows in that room have a soft or hard edge? What direction do the windows face? Is it easy to read a book in there? These questions will help you determine the amount of light that room is exposed to typically. If your spot gets lots of direct light, it would be great for a desert terrarium inhabited by cacti and succulents. If you have a space with filtered or indirect sunlight, a tropical or fern terrarium would be glad to establish itself there. From here we will choose our plants and our container. 

  • Step 2:  Control moisture levels. The first step in creating your terrarium is layering the glass vessel like a cake. The first layer consists of a few scoops of activated charcoal. This does absorbs excess moisture through the porous surface of the charcoal, and also has anti-microbial properties. This is important because terrariums often don’t have drainage. Keep this in mind when watering so your plants' roots are never sitting in a puddle.

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

  • Step 3: Arrange and secure your plants. Take each plant out of its nursery pot and gently loosen the soil around the roots with your fingers (use tongs and gloves if working with cacti). Set these aside and add a thin layer of soil about an inch deep to the container. Arrange your plants where you want them in the container and add another inch of soil to secure the plants in place. Tamp the soil gently with your fingers (or a spoon) to remove air pockets.

  • Step 4: Personalize your garden. Add a layer of decorative sand to the top of the soil, brushing away any loose grains that get caught on your plants with a paint brush. After the sand is even, add larger rocks, crystals, twigs, lichens, moss, or whatever else you would like to build your garden with. Things to consider are color, texture, and size. When these finishing touches are completed all that is left to do is display!

Make a Marimo Moss Ball Garden

Marimo moss ball gardens are unique and very easy to care for. They are perfect little conversation pieces to add to your home, and among the simplest DIY plant project. They require little amounts of sunlight and all that is needed for care is the occasional shake and refresh of water. To build your little aquatic garden all you will need are Marimo moss balls, a glass container, and decorative rocks (optional).

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

  • Step 1: Pick out a glass container that holds enough water to fully submerge your Marimo.

  • Step 2: Rinse decorative rocks and add a small layer to the bottom of your container.

  • Step 3: Add as many Marimo moss balls as you'd like!

  • Step 4: Fill with water and display.

Marimo should be kept where they’ll receive indirect light and can brown in direct sun. For more on marimo care, check out this blog post.

Press Leaves and Flowers, DIY Flower Press

Framed pressed flowers and leaves around your home is very much like a treasure trove frozen in time. Having a mix of living plants, botanical prints, and pressed pieces is a lovely way to bring the natural world into your sacred spaces. 

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

Pressing leaves and flowers is quite easy to do, though of all of the DIY plant projects we're mentioning, it certainly involves the most patience. Here we are going to go through the steps of creating a beautiful framed botanical piece for your wall with or without a plant press.

  • Step 1: Collect a cutting. This could be a leaf from your favorite house plant, a flower given to you in a bouquet, or a fallen leaf collected in the park. 

  • Step 2: Press. The trick to a successful plant pressing is careful handling and patience. To press your piece the materials you will need are moisture absorbing paper, cardboard, and pressure. If you have a flower press all you will need to do is carefully arrange the plant on the paper so that when it is pressed the leaves and/or flowers will flatten in the way you would like, and then close and tighten your press.

    If you don’t have a press you will have to get a little more creative. Consider using two flat pieces of cardboard, newspaper, and a stack of books. Place the plant in between some pieces of newspaper sandwiched in between the cardboard and place the books on top. 

  • Step 3: Wait. Let the plant press and dry out for 2-3 weeks for the best results.

  • Step 4: Frame. Gently take the plant out of the press and tape to cardstock cut to your frame size. You may have to trim the plant back a bit to fit nicely, make sure you use sharp sheers to get even and distinct lines. Frame and display.

Create a Kokedama

Simply translated, kokedama means "moss ball," derived from the traditional Japanese bonsai practice of the same name. Sometimes called string gardens, each piece can sit in a shallow dish or hang from a line loop, making them versatile and unique additions to any room. Here is a step by step guide for create one of your very own. All you will need to get started with this DIY plant project is our Kokedama Kit.

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

  • Step 1: Gently loosen soil from the plant roots and place onto the cloth lining. Mix soil and clay with water until evenly moist.

  • Step 2: Bury plant roots in the center of the soil/clay mound and gather the cloth lining around the mound to form a tight ball. Secure ball by tying cloth lining around the base of the plant with twine. Trim excess twine and cloth and set aside.

  • Step 3: Saturate moss with water and arrange it in a circular mat on the table, leaving a small amount aside as excess. Place root ball in the center of the moss mat and gather the moss around it, press the moss gently to form around the root ball.

Social Distancing with Plants Part 2 - DIY Plant Projects - Pistils Nursery

  • Step 4: Loop nylon cord around moss ball and tie tightly, leaving a 4-inch tail. Holding the moss ball in one hand and spool in the other, bind tightly by wrapping the nylon vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. 

  • Step 5: Patch exposed cloth lining with excess moss. Tie cord tightly, leaving about 3 feet excess for the hanging loop.

  • Step 6: Create hanging loop by slipping excess nylon cord under binding near the base of the plant. Cut to desired length and tie.

For more detailed instructions on making a kokedama, check out this blog post.

Consider these creative endeavors when you find yourself with some free time and in the creative spirit. The community of plant and art lovers often touch and inspire one another. In these slowed down times of social distancing, we encourage you to find stillness and calm while creating a living piece of art.

Some other ideas to consider could be: building an aerium, macrame plant hanger or clay pinch pot, or starting a houseplant journal. The DIY plant projects are endless. Happy crafting!

Words by Brittany Oxford

June 12, 2020 — Pistils Nursery

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