A terrarium is a small, enclosed environment (a mini-ecosystem) consisting of plants and soil inside a typically transparent container. They are low-maintenance indoor gardens that are fairly self-contained and self-sufficient.
In early times, terrariums have been used to protect plants against harsh weather. Today, it's used for many different things, such as home decorations and experiments. Many studies have found that the presence of plants have stress-relieving and calming effects on people. Terrariums can also be used to learn more about how ecosystems work and plant life cycles.
There are two types of terrariums: closed and open.
A closed terrarium has an isolated ecosystem inside a sealed container. This is usually used for plants that need more moisture, as the moisture and water vapor from the plants and soil condense on the walls and lid and fall back into the soil.
An open terrarium is permanently open and is usually used for plants that survive in drier temperatures, making them sort of like mini-deserts. Unlike closed terrariums, they thrive better in direct sunlight.
So, how do you make a terrarium?
Step 1: Prepare the Materials
First, gather all the basic materials you're going to need. This includes:
- a clear container
- stockings and scissors (optional)
- your chosen plants
For open terrariums, use plants that survive dry environments, such as succulents. For closed terrariums, ferns and grasses are commonly used.
Step 2: Prepare the Pot
Fill the bottom of the container with small stones or pebbles. This will serve as the drain so that excess water won't cause flooding. After this, it is recommended to place a piece of stocking cloth to keep the stones from mixing with the soil. Finally, fill the container with half the amount of soil you plan to use.
Step 3: Potting the Plants
Dig a hole in the soil where the plants will be placed enough for most of the roots to rest. Then, remove the plants from their original pots carefully, making sure not to damage the roots, and transfer it onto the terrarium (a useful technique is to gently "massage" the roots of the plants to help remove the remaining soil). Afterwards, place the second layer of the soil to fully cover the roots of the plant.
Step 4: Placing the Decorations
Get creative! You can use all sorts of decorations, such as pebbles, marbles, moss, figurines, and more. You can also choose to make your own decorations to make a personalized terrarium. Once you're satisfied, seal your container if it's a closed terrarium (make sure the leaves aren't wedged between the walls and the lid). Now you have your very own terrarium!
Step 5: Caring for Your Terrarium
Sunlight: Different types of terrariums require different amounts of sunlight. Closed terrariums should be placed in indirect sunlight, because the glass could heat up and the plants could burn, while open terrariums are better to be placed in direct sunlight.
Water: Open terrariums should be very sparingly watered (once the soil is totally dry), because the roots of these plants can easily rot. Closed terrariums, on the other hand, should be watered once or twice a month.
Pruning: If there are yellow or brown leaves on the plants, make sure to remove them since they may be indicators of a disease.
Step 6: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long do terrariums last?
A: If they're well-maintained, terrariums can last for several years.
Q: Do terrariums need air?
A: The plants do require air, but those in closed terrariums are able to survive by recycling it. When photosynthesis takes, place, carbon dioxide is converted into oxygen, which is released back into the terrarium and can be reused by the plants.
Q: Can the container be made of plastic?
A: Definitely! You can even choose to use anti-fog plastic containers for better visibility.
Q: Do terrariums have to be airtight?
A: Not necessarily, although it's fine if they are. It is still advised to remove the lid weekly (or even daily) to let fresh air inside.