As terrariums gain popularity as thoughtful gifts, professional terrarium-maker Rupa Kothari talks about her passion.
Enter a garden and the lush greenery is sure to put you in a good mood. Although in a city like Mumbai, where the green patches are constantly getting lost in the rapid urbanisation, a sight of the green can now be accessible in a glass bowl with an ecosystem of its own. At an ongoing art exhibition Textura in Cymroza Art Gallery, Rupa Kothari’s exhibit of homemade terrariums is gathering a lot of buzz among the attendees.
Terrariums are a small glass-enclosed arrangement of plants that resemble mini-greenhouses. With an eco-system of its own, terrariums have been trending as low-maintenance décor pieces. For Rupa, who has been commercially selling the terrariums under the label ‘Happiness in a Bowl’ for two years, an odd fascination turned into a passion. “A few years ago, my daughter got one terrarium and I really loved it. I also wanted to learn more about it. So, I attended a workshop and started making them at home. Soon, I started gifting them and in its natural progression, I started selling them,” she says.
The growing popularity for the glass containers with plants can be owed to the fact that it not only adds a green glint to one’s house décor but also brings the complex workings of nature closer to you in a bowl. Hence, even for Rupa, making the terrariums is perhaps spiritual. “For anyone, irrespective of whether you make terrariums or not, anytime you see anything green it just brings a little smile on your face. It’s like harmony with nature. I was fascinated with plants in any bowl and creating the beautiful thing around it. It is like a soul of nature that you are planting in a bowl. Making it is is like a meditation, I am in a different zone at that time,” she confirms.
Although making terrariums is creative, it sure does require some technical know-how. The most important one includes knowing the compatibility of the plants. “You need to know what plants can go into a terrarium. Broadly, there are two types — succulents and non-succulents. So, you have to make sure that you don’t put them together because the light and water requirements are different between the two. While succulents require less water and more light, the non-succulents need more light and less water,” informs Rupa. She also proceeds to explain that since the terrariums are meant for indoors, the flowering plants do not survive in it. Hence, she uses a variety of baby plants including fittonia, sansevieria, syngonium, sedum, cryptanthus, haworthia, baby tears, cacti, and jade among others. Moreover, since the glass containers do not have holes like the normal potted plants, Rupa even creates artificial drainage by using pebbles, charcoal, and soil.
Over the years, Rupa has made different kinds of terrariums, customised according to the themes, budget and décor requirements of her clients. In one of the exhibited ones, she had created a small scenic arrangement with a mini cottage, birds hanging and the baby plants giving the illusion of trees. Although, the highlight of her process is that she tries to recycle. “They are not only a live art, but they are also recyclable. For some reason, if there is a plant that didn’t survive in a terrarium, you can refresh it, you can remove and use something else or use a different decoration. There is nothing that you need to throw away. Terrariums are self-sustaining, and they actually need very little care,” she concludes.
Textura can be viewed today at Cymroza Art Gallery, Breach Candy from 11am to 7pm.