What is a terrarium

A Terrarium is a small garden or landscape in a glass container.

It is your own personal garden that’s limited only by available space, natural needs of plants, and your imagination. 

These terrariums can be kept indoors in a well-lit area and are well suited for indoor displays.  As long as there’s good light you can even keep one on your desk. 

There are many various forms of terrariums that can be built.  The two basic forms are terrariums that have an open end through which air and moisture can move, as well as where you gain access for maintenance of your terrarium.  These are easier to maintain.

Enclosed Terrariums

Enclosed terrariums are sealed in a glass container with its own little eco system.  They are more difficult to manage and maintain.

Many different containers can be used for terrariums.  It can be a bottle, flower vase, or custom hand built containers.  Then you can choose between a tropical/woodland or a desert landscape.

Tropical Terrariums

The Tropical/woodland terrarium will have moss, small tropical plants, and grasses in it.

Desert landscape Terrariums

A desert landscape you build with succulents.  And since there are so many amazing-coloured succulents available it’s easy to make a colourful terrarium.

Terrariums require very little maintenance.

You need to find the right spot for your terrarium.

It needs good light for the plants to produce their own food (photosynthesis) but not direct sunlight that will cook the plants in the enclosed environment.

Water it regularly if it is an open terrarium.  Make use of a spray bottle and preferably use distilled or reverse osmosis water to prevent build-up of unwanted chemicals.

Monitor the watering by looking at the growing medium.  It should not be too wet or dry.  You will know that you watered the terrarium too much when there’s water in the drainage layer.  Condensation on the inside of a terrarium is natural, and it forms against the cooler glass from transpiration in the terrarium.  See it as your own little raincloud.

Plants need to be trimmed

The plants, mosses and grasses are alive and in time will overcrowd the terrarium.  You need to regularly trim it back into shape.  Trimming the growth will also ensure that sufficient light gets to the plants keeping them healthy.  

Remove dead leaves

Remove dead leaves and grasses from your terrarium.  Dead leaves can cause mold in the terrarium that will kill the other plants and it does not look nice.  

Clean the glass

Clean the glass regularly to be able to see your landscape as well as allow in enough light for the health of your plants.  It’s also a good idea to clean your glass container before you start planting it.

Problems that you may experience with terrariums

-Too much water

Too much watering will cause the plants roots to rot and kill your terrarium.  An indication of too much water will be visible water in the drainage layer.  Leave the terrarium open for a while for the water to evaporate before the next watering.

-Mold growing

Mold is caused by dead material in the terrarium, like leaves, grasses, or plants.  Remove all the dead material, as well as any visible mold.  Fresh air and good light will keep the mold at bay. 

In enclosed terrariums you can make use of insects, called springtails, that eat mold and will control mold in the terrarium.  There are several articles on YouTube regarding springtails

-Too much or too little light

Apart from watering, the biggest reason for failure of terrariums is light.  Plants need good light to produce food through photosynthesis.  Good light also keep mold under control.

On the other hand, too much light, like direct sunlight, will raise the temperature dramatically in the terrarium and “cook” the plants.

You can also reed the following articles

How to build your own terrarium

Suitable growing medium and plants for terrariums

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