Doing Well by Doing Good

A Crazy Shopkeeper’s Simple Approach to Doing Business

 Gregg Harris

Gregg Harris

By Gregg “Roosevelt” Harris
Owner/Proprietor of Roosevelt’s Terrariums

I believe that everyone can do well themselves by doing good for others. Without exception.

There are so many opportunities to do good out there in the marketplace, and each one is an opportunity for someone to do well. All anyone has to do is offer a product or service that “delivers the goods” and he or she can do very well in this world. That is the way it works.

But from the beginning there have been those who are not satisfied with doing well by doing good. It’s too slow. They succumb to the temptations of laziness, impatience, and greed. They insist on doing well for themselves by doing harm to others. Their activities may be illegal, as with the mugger on the street. But all too often the harm is entirely legal, as with the business person who takes advantage of his customer’s ignorance. Both should be ashamed of themselves. It’s not right.

Doing Well By Doing Good, One Terrarium at a Time

My little shop is called Roosevelt’s Terrariums for a reason. Like our 26th President, I believe that the solution to laziness and greed in our society is found, not in passing more laws, but rather, in promoting more wisdom and goodness in one another. What we honor we increase. It all comes together when ordinary people make their own personal commitments to do well for themselves ONLY by doing good for others, and then looking for their opportunity to serve.

Theodore Roosevelt used to say, “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.” That is where it really has to start. My terrarium shop is my own attempt at doing just that. I am determined to do all the good I can with what little I’ve got to work with right where I am, and in the process, I am doing very well for myself. And I am having the time of my life.

I know it sounds’s crazy. After all, it’s just a shop. But the old hippie and the old Jesus freak in me both refuse to have it any other way. So, how is it going? So far, so good. Business is booming. My terrarium classes are mostly full. I’m enjoying the simple life of a shopkeeper and making lots of new friends. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Stop Calling Every Glass Planter a "Terrarium”

Stop Calling Every Glass Planter a "Terrarium”

Being sealed is essential. A terrarium by definition is a closed, self-contained, recycling ecosystem. What makes a terrarium work is the fact that it is closed off from the harsher environment surrounding it. That is why you can grow things in a terrarium that you cannot grow out in the open. A terrarium supports the tropical and woodland plants inside by protecting them from cold drafts, dry heat and poor air quality.

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Unique Vessels

In weeks past we’ve taught you how to build terrariums to stick on your fridge, to remind you what it’s like in the desert, and to hang from your ceiling. Now we want to show you some unique vessels to display your favorite succulents. In Portland we have free boxes on every street corner; second-hand shops outnumber big box retailers; and garage sales abound in the summer months. We encourage you to look out for interesting glass or ceramic pieces everywhere you go, and stop by our store for the supplies to fill them. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Light Bulbs

  Photo  by Cloth and Clad /  CC BY

Photo by Cloth and Clad / CC BY

Harking back to the days when building ships in a bottle was a popular hobby, we love the idea of building an enclosed habitat in an old light bulb. Pick one or two favorite items to place in there with tweezers so that you don’t overwhelm the small space. This idea will be a real conversation starter.

Old Jars

  Photo  by Design Sponge  / CC BY

Photo by Design Sponge / CC BY

We all have an old pickle jar lying around or several dozen baby food jars in ourrecycling bin. Why not repurpose them for something beautiful?

Ceramic Bowls


Photo by St Houzz / CC BY

Because succulents don’t need the drainage that other plants require, you can find a beautiful ceramic bowl and use it as a planter. Make your own, find it on the side of the road, or stop by our store to see our selection. This is another great way to incorporate color into your home.

Garage Sale Vases

  Photo  courtesy of wikicommons  /  CC BY

Photo courtesy of wikicommons  / CC BY

We bet you don’t even have to visit a garage sale to find an extra vase. Check your cabinets or shelves, and you will surely come across the perfect home for your new terrarium! Any shape, any size, just add some gravel, charcoal, and soil with your favorite plant and you are good to go.There you have it. Four ideas to keep you busy! Now find your next vessel for a new terrarium and stop by our store for the supplies to fill it! Can’t wait to see you!

We love lichens!


What is a lichen? Well, according to Irwin Brodo, Sylvia and Stephen Sharnoff in their book, Lichens of North America, “lichens are a composite of a fungus and an organism capable of producing food by photosynthesis.” But that’s complicated. What you need to know is that lichens are diverse, colorful, and absolutely beautiful!

Lichens are everywhere in the Northwest, and you can collect your own to grow in your home terrarium! (Be sure to follow the federal and  state rules and regulations, no one wants a fine for collecting plants illegally.) Lichens are slow growing, and relatively fragile, so be careful while collecting, transporting, and transplanting.

Here is how you can collect coveted lichen and bring it home with you!

1. Use a spray bottle to mist the lichen or poor a little bit of water directly onto it. It is much easier to collect lichen when it is wet without damaging it.

2. Break off a small piece of the lichen. They are incredibly slow growing, so get enough for your terrarium, but be sure to leave some so that it can reproduce in its natural environment.

3. Put your lichen into a paper bag to transport it. Be sure to fold the top of the bag over to keep it from drying out. If you have a long journey, be sure to mist it regularly to keep it moist and healthy.

4. Place the lichen on a moist rock, small piece of wood, or directly on the surface of your terrarium. Over time (a lot of time) it will grow and spread.

5. Once your terrarium is complete spray the lichen regularly to keep it moist. It needs moisture to continue growing and repopulating.And now, some pictures to inspire your new love of lichens.


Colorful Terrarium Plants

We all love fresh, green plants in our terrariums, but this Spring we’re in the mood for color! You have a lot of options when it comes to adding color to your enclosed mini gardens, and we’re excited to share some of our favorites with you.

 British Soldier Lichen

British Soldier Lichen

British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia cristatella)

This one is tiny (only about an inch high), but their beautiful red spores truly bring a new life to terrariums both large and small. Like moss, keep this plant in a terrarium with other dry plants that love dry environments in cool areas. When using British Soldier Lichens, don’t expect them to get much bigger as they only grow one or two millimeters each year!


 African Violet 

African Violet 

African Violets (Saintpaulia)

We’ve talked about African Violets before, but how could we fail to mention them again in a post about color? From  a deep indigo to a brilliant violet this flower is absolutely stunning. The light with this plant is a little tricky—allow for moderate to bring indirect, indoor light. If your plant stops flowering in needs more sunlight, but if brown spots develop on the flowers and leaves it is getting too much sun. Keep the soil moist and allow the roots to dry before watering to encourage blooming.

 Venus Flytrap 

Venus Flytrap 

Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula)

They may be green on the outside, but when this carnivorous plant opens its “mouth” it displays its gorgeous red insides. This plant is a favorite for kids and adults alike. (Who doesn’t love a plant that acts like an animal?) Keep them in a location with lots of light, and remember that the key to a long life for your Venus Flytraps is a hibernation time over the winter. Just stick them in your fridge for 2-5 months and you’ll keep this plant happy and healthy for one more year!

 Hen and Chicken

Hen and Chicken

Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum)

Because this plant variety is so easy to care for and multiplies like crazy, I see these decorating many yards in my neighborhood. Also known as “hen and chicks” this plant is hardy and thrives with neglect. They love full sun, well-hydrated soil (sandy clay is ideal), and very little water. There are so many varieties that range from luscious green to deep reds—this is the perfect addition to any terrarium.


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Scarlet Star (Guzmania Lingulata)

This beautiful, garnet-colored flower comes from the tropical island of Hawaii, and can easily bring a little island flair to your home. Scarlet Stars like moderate to bright light, but prefer fluorescent bulbs to direct sunlight making this the perfect office plant. They need to stay well hydrated, so don’t pair this plant with the desert-dwellers that we talked about above.

 If you have any questions about how to spruce up your terrarium or you need help caring for your plants, we’d love to help! Stop by our store or email us with any questions.

Mounting Air Plants

Mounted Airplant

If you’re looking for a fun weekend project or a way to add a little low-maintenance green to your home then this easy DIY project may be the perfect way to spend a couple hours of your day. Today we’ll show you how to mount an air plant.

Part of the fun of air plants is their versatility—you can literally mount them on almost any surface. Some of the most popular places include wooden blocks, rocks, and pieces of driftwood. Today we’ll use a stick that we found out on a recent adventure.



Step 1. Gather your Supplies

Here is a list of supplies you will need to complete this project.

  • Fishing Line
  • Scissors
  • Sheet Moss
  • A Stick or Other Mounting Surface
  • A Tillandsia or Air Plant of Your Choice

Step 2. Clean your Mounting Surface

Once you have gathered the necessary supplies you are ready to start assembling your mounted air plant and impressing your friends with your crafting abilities.

When selecting a home for your new air plant, don’t forget that you will need to be able to water it so it should be mounted to something that can be watered. It will also need ample sunlight to thrive.  If you have young plants you will also need to remember that it will continue to grow, so select a mounting surface that won’t be dwarfed by a growing plant.

Step 3.  Attach the Plant

You can use any number of items to attach your plant to your mounting surface, but our favorite is fishing line. Other common ways include glue, wire, and twist ties. You can decide based on you own personal preferences or whatever supplies you have around the house. Just be sure if using wire, make sure not to use copper because copper wire kills Tillandsia. Also remember that not all glues are suitable. Some contain toxins witch can harm your plants.

Begin by placing your plants on your mounting surface, and spend a few minutes playing with how you want them to be displayed. Try moving them around in different positions to see how they best compliment the surface.

When you’re ready, simply place the plant on the surface and attach it with just enough fishing line to secure the plant, but little enough that it doesn’t stand out. Don’t worry if you can still see the line, we will camouflage it later.

 Step 4: Apply Sheet Moss

Again, play with the placement of the sheet moss on your surface. You will want to cover the line, of course, but maybe there are some other great places that need a little extra color. Attach the moss with glue, wire, or fishing line.

 Step 5. Watering your mounted Air plant

Plants can be sprayed or misted every day but the easiest way is to submerge the plant in water about once a week—and let it soak for an hour or so. When the plant is taken out of its bath, excess water should be shaken or drained off. Water trapped in the plant can cause rot.  Make sure that your air plants are completely dry between watering.

Happy making.

4 Creative Succulent Projects

Succulents. We talk about them a lot. They’re beautiful, diverse, easy to maintain, and so very versatile that you can use them everywhere. This week we want to share some of our favorite ways that creative folks are integrating these fantastic living things into life—every day and for special occasions! See something you want to try? We’d love to supply you with the plants (and care advice) that you need to make it happen!

Vertical Garden

   Photo  by Martha McQuade /  CC BY

Photo by Martha McQuade / CC BY

Create a small planter (or cover the whole wall) with a variety of your favorite succulent plants. We love that succulents are so versatile that they can even grow and thrive on their side!

Mini Terrariums

  Photo  by EJ Posselius /  CC BY

Photo by EJ Posselius / CC BY

If you have some patience and a pair of long tweezers then you can make terrariums in just about anything. We love the idea of creating these unique terrariums out of recycled light bulbs. Hang them. Prop them up. They will be great in any space!

Succulent Wreath

  Photo and Tutorial  by Maegan Tintari /  CC BY

Photo and Tutorial by Maegan Tintari / CC BY

Who says that wreaths are only for the holidays? This is a beautiful example of how you can make something yourself that will bring life and beauty right to your doorstep.

Tiny Planters

  Photo  by Upcycle That /  CC BY

Photo by Upcycle That / CC BY

You can grow succulents in anything. Tea cups, terrariums, your favorite pair of shoes, or even wine corks! This blogger created wine cork planters that that hung beautifully on the wall, but you could use them anywhere! Cover your table with these little planters at your next dinner party, decorate the guestbook table at your wedding, or tuck them into your bookshelf for a wonderful little accent.

Favorite Terrarium Plants

Terrarium Frog

One of the things we love most about terrariums is that they are so easy to care for. Once planted a healthy terrarium will require little to no care, but add much to the overall atmosphere and enjoyment of your home.

For those interested in building your own terrarium here is a short list of some of our favorite plants to consider adding to your newest creation.  


Moss: Mosses are common in terrariums and are easy to grow. Scottish and Irish moss are two popular and hardy options.


Ferns: Ferns are easy to grow, tolerate low light, and enjoy high humidity making them a great low-maintenance addition to your terrarium. 


African Violets: This plant requires a humid, warm environment to live. The African Violet, because of its small stature, also adapts well to limited space.

Begonia Rex: This beautiful plant has a lot of challenges when grown outside that are addressed quite well in terrarium environments. Begonia Rexes need moderate to bright, indirect light, high humidity, and peaty soil to thrive.

Creeping Fig

Creeping Fig: Creeping Figs have small heart shaped leaves that can be trained to creep up and climb structures and other plants. They like constant, light moisture.

baby tear

Baby’s Tears: This plant is made up of tiny leaves that look great in a small scale. It grows abundantly which can be a problem in an outdoor garden, but it does well contained in a terrarium.

Air Plants

Air Plants: Air plants are known for being easy to grow, requiring only high light, and weekly watering. When taken care of, they will live for several years and will even provide "pups" for additional years of enjoyment!

Air Plant Basics



What’s an Air Plant?

Browse any Pinterest account (including ours) and chances are you will come across at least one picture of an air plant. These beautiful, spiky, and interesting plants seem to have captured the hearts of professional and amateur decorators, architects, and hobbyists. But what exactly are they, and how should we best care for them? 

Epiphytes, or air plants, grow naturally in tropical climates. They live by attaching themselves to trees, moss, or other surfaces and by collecting nutrients from water they collect from the air. 

How to Care for an Air Plant

Air plants make a great addition to any home, or office and are a simple to care for, long lasting source of joy for many people. 


Air plants need bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight might be okay for small amounts of time. However, if air plants are left in direct sunlight for more than a few hours they will begin to dry out. 


We recommend watering your air plants by giving them a thorough rinsing under running water or by letting them soak in a bath of water for 20-30 minutes once a week. Your air plant should be watered at least once a week. You should notice that air plants will be softer and lighter in color when they are in need of watering.  

Those living in hotter and dryer climates might need to make watering more frequent. Look for wrinkled or rolled leaves—this can be a sign of dehydration. 


Air plants grow best in generally warm conditions between 50-90 degrees.

Do you have any questions about air plant or terrarium care? Contact us