Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Add cheer to your work desk with terrariums

The simplicity of creating one, and the limited maintenance required, make the terrarium a big hit in offices

Spotted a clear bowl packed with colourful stones, sand and plants at your colleague’s desk lately? You’re looking at a terrarium, a refreshing, modern system of planting that is becoming popular across offices.

“Everyone, from lawyers to schoolchildren, and retired couples to homemakers, attends my terrarium workshops," says Nisergini Pednekar, an interior designer who takes classes at microbrewery Doolally’s outlets in Mumbai.

The simplicity of creating one, and the limited maintenance required, make the terrarium a big hit in offices. Dnyanada Joshi, who heads the consumer science division at L’Oréal’s Research & Innovation Centre in Mumbai, made her first terrarium at a workshop. “The terrarium makes my desk look so lively," she says. “It is a conversation starter at work, as colleagues spot a cute glass bowl and ask me about it."

Apart from simply looking good, terrariums purify the air we breathe in indoor spaces, and improve oxygen quality. They also help professionals spending much of their time at a desk feel calmer. “It reminds me that there are more beautiful things in life beyond work. It keeps me feeling positive," Joshi says.

Trendy terrariums incorporate succulents, sand art and curiously shaped bottles. Leah Umrigar, founder of Mumbai-based The Green Bowl, which specializes in creating terrariums, uses plants like syngoniums, aralias, lemon spider and aglaonema for round fishbowls. She recommends succulents like jade, echeveria, crassula and bromelia for the flat plant dishes, as these thrive in spaces that receive 2-3 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Dnyanada Joshi waters the terrariums on her desk. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Dnyanada Joshi waters the terrariums on her desk. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Compared to a regular plant, a terrarium does offer clear benefits. A complete lack of mess, a lower degree of maintenance, and a marked absence of mosquitoes since there is no water accumulation, to begin with.

As Joshi explains: “At my office desk, I don’t want something that needs constant attention and care. A terrarium is perfect, as I water it just once a week. It also does not need direct sunlight, so with little care it blooms to give me positivity and energy."

Certain bowls can hold up to four plants in much less space than a pot, which would only be able to host one. All one really needs to do is water the plant as per requirements. “A lot of personalization takes place with a terrarium. You can think of a theme, you can use particular colours and elements, and create a world in a glass bowl by forming an ecosystem It is not comparable to a plant," Joshi concludes.

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What’s a terrarium?

Simply put, a terrarium is a self-containing ecosystem that mimics the texture and layers of the earth. There are two kinds—open and closed. In a sealed terrarium, the plants and soil release water vapour, making it a self-nourishing unit that requires little maintenance, while an open terrarium needs to be watered occasionally.

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