Planting a Cloche

All terrariums exude a sense of charm, it’s true.

But there’s something about a cloche (also known as a bell jar) that’s particularly compelling.

As with all terrariums, the venue need not be confined to plants – you could display just about anything within a cloche. But there’s something whimsical, wonderful, romantic and mysterious about a living, growing plant clapped under a glass lid.

Cloches were originally employed agriculturally to protect tender plants from chills in the beginning (or end) of the growing season. Nowadays, there are all sorts of less expensive (and less poetic) plastic devices to use outdoors for that purpose.

Instead, curvaceous cloches have taken on a more artistic job profile and they’re used as evocative focal points in interior décor.

A beautifully planted cloche is a head-turner as well as a creative outlet to display your little work of art that you’ve designed inside. Nothing says “nature contained” like a cloche.

Make a proper planting bed

Planting a cloche varies slightly from tackling a conventional terrarium with sides and a lid due primarily to the depth of the planting bed.

Because cloches are merely a glass lid, the challenge lies in finding a base to plant in.

For indoor gardening purposes, you’ll need a plate, pan or saucer for your cloche to cap. And you’ll need to build up the soil so it provides sufficient depth to nurture plants.

Cheese dishes often come with a base that has a small lip – and that makes your job easier. A two-inch lip will give you a sufficient base to bury very small plants with limited root systems.

But in most cases, the planting surface will be flat or nearly flat and you will need to build up the base to create a planting bed. The most effective plan of attack is to build up a donut-shaped crater, firm the soil into the volcano-like shape and plant within the center.

How to plant a cloche

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/8 inch pebbles
  • Charcoal
  • Potting soil

Line the bottom of your plate, saucer, or pan with a thin layer of pebbles. Add a teaspoon of charcoal or slightly more, depending on the size of the base. Mix them together.

On top of that foundation, build up a firm donut of potting soil shaped like a volcano – then add some loose soil in the center of the volcano and add the plants into the soil, planting just as you would plant in a planter.

Be sure to firm the soil around the newly inserted plants and water immediately after planting. Clamp the lid on your terrarium and it’s good to go!

Lift the lid on one side to water when necessary and let the water soak in.

Admire your artwork and display it as a focal point in your décor.

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