Introduction: Vending Capsule Terrarium

About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human tha…

A terrarium is a container for keeping plants inside. There are open and closed terrariums. This one is a closed terrarium meaning it is sealed and water and air can not get in our out. Closed terrariums are a good way to teach and learn, through experience, about the water cycle and germination. Because water can not get in or out, the water inside the terrarium evaporates and condenses. My son said that he could see fog inside the terrarium. Seeing the plant grow from a seed has always seemed fascinating to me.

In this Instructable, I will show you how easy it is to make a Terrarium.

Step 1: Supplies

I chose vending machine capsules because, they are small, inexpensive, and something most kids would just throw away without giving it a second thought. If you are going to use this in a classroom setting, it is easy for the students to take them home. You can either get these from a vending machine, with a toy inside, for about 50 cents or you can buy them from Amazon: in the small 1" size or the larger 2" size. You could also use larger size containers as long as they are airtight and have a clear side. I used a plastic cake container and had good results also.

For the soil you could just use dirt, but dirt sometimes has plants and seeds already in it, so a potting soil might be a better choice. I used a mix similar to this one: They come with the right amount of fertilizer for plants.

The seeds were what my daughter chose. I think she liked the pictures on the packages.



Step 2: Get Dirty

Use the flat colored part of the capsule as the bottom. Fill it with the potting soil and mash it in. You don't want it packed hard as a brick, but you don't want it too crumbly.

Step 3: Add Water

You will have to add water to the soil. You want it moist to the touch. If you get too much water in the soil, just turn it sideways and mash the dirt to squeeze out the excess water.

Step 4: Plant the Seed

You will want to put the seed in the center and mash it into the soil. Make sure it is covered in soil. You could put more than one seed in and mix up different seeds. If you are using different seeds and making more than one terrarium, you might want to mark the bottom to identify which seeds are in them.

Step 5: Seal It Up

Pop the clear top on and now you have a closed terrarium.

Step 6: Give It Sun and Watch It Grow.

You will want to place your terrarium in a warm partially sunny area. The heat from the sun will warm up the inside of the terrarium and make the water, in the soil, evaporate. You want the terrarium in a somewhat shady area, because direct sunlight might make the terrarium too hot.

Step 7: Watch Clouds Form

Clouds will form inside the terrarium and it will rain. Water will condense on the inside and if you gently tap the terrarium, it will drop down like rain. You can see in these photos that I made a larger terrarium using a cake container. This is a good time to explain to your kids, or students, about the water cycle. Evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and even transpiration (once the plant grows).

Step 8: Watch Your Plants Grow.

Depending on the germination time of your seeds, you could see plants growing in as quick as a few days. This is a good time to teach about germination and also how the water cycle effects germination. Once the plants have outgrown the small terrariums, you could transplant them to a larger terrarium, a pot, or transplant them to the ground.

Step 9: Video

As usual, I made a video.

Thank you for viewing.

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