Introduction: A terrarium is a collection of small and decorative plants growing in an enclosed environment. Terrarium containers are typically transparent and give an opening big enough to allow the gardener to access the plants inside. They are a small and enclosed environment for certain plants. The containers for terrarium gardens are typically transparent, for example, glass or plastic, and terrarium is a sealable glass container containing soil and plants, and can be opened for maintenance to access the plants inside. However, a terrarium can be open to the atmosphere rather than being sealed. Then the terrariums are often kept as decorative or ornamental items. Closed terrarium creates a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium.
A step by step guide to growing and care of Terrarium plants
Types of terrariums
Different types of terrariums are given below;
Open terrarium – The first type of terrariums is “open” terrariums. These are some glass vessels with an opening that allows air circulation and through which you’ll care for your plants. An open terrarium is better suited to plants that choose less humidity and soil moisture, such as temperate plants. Not all plants require or are appropriate to the moist environment of a closed terrarium. For plants adapted to dry climates, open, unsealed terrariums are used to maintain the air in the terrarium free from excess moisture. Open terrarium also works well for plants that need more direct sunlight, as closed terrarium can trap too much heat potentially killing any plants inside.
Closed terrarium – The second type of terrarium is a “closed” terrarium. This is a bit more complicated to maintain and less common. That’s because the glass doesn’t have a large enough hole through which to give regular care. Some of the tropical plant varieties that are mosses, orchids, ferns, and air plants, are normally kept within closed terrarium due to the conditions similar to the humid and sheltered environment of the tropics. Keeping these terrarium sealed allows for the circulation of water. The terrarium can be opened once a week to remove excess moisture from the air and walls of the container.
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Closed terrarium also requires a special soil mix to ensure both good growing conditions and to reduce the risks of microbial damage. A regular medium used is ‘peat-lite’, a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. The mixture should be sterile to avoid introducing potentially harmful microbes.
Different things need to make a terrarium
You’ll need the following things to need to make a terrarium;
- A glass or plastic container
- Glass container
- Rocks (polished pebbles, sea glass, marbles, etc.)
- Sphagnum or sheet moss
- Soil (growing medium)
- Spoon for placing soil
Light for terrarium plants
Save for some lower-light tolerant species like Haworthia and Gasteria, most succulents choose bright, if not direct, light. Place your succulent terrarium in a very bright spot, keeping in mind that glass tends to magnify direct sun, and can potentially burn your terrarium plants.
Water for terrarium plants
Succulents are drought-tolerant plants, and highly susceptible to root-rot. Terrariums do not have drainage holes; you’ll want to water succulent terrarium very sparingly when the soil has gone almost completely dry. Water sparingly around the base of every plant using a watering can or a spray bottle.
Find a suitable container for terrariums
Terrariums come in several different and creative shapes and sizes. Most terrariums are ready from a clear glass jar with a wide mouth.
You will want a glass container clear enough to see through. Cloudy or tinted glass reduces the quantity of light the plant receives. Any size container will do, depending on the number of plants you are planting. The container must have a removable cover to control moisture.
Tips for building a terrarium
- Terrariums start by selecting a clear glass container. Though colored glass looks pretty, it blocks some of the light from plants.
- A wide-mouth vessel is much easier to work with, particularly when you need to get your hands into it for planting and pair plants with similar humidity and sunlight needs.
- Select slow-growing plants or varieties that stay shorter upon maturation.
Care for terrarium plants
- When choosing a container, remember that closed containers hold more humidity and make a jungle-like atmosphere. Open containers are ideal for cactus and succulent gardens, as well as other plants that choose less humidity.
- While choosing terrarium plants can be difficult because there are so many amazing options that would look great and thrive in terrariums. The terrarium plants listed here are so easy to produce that even a complete novice can have success.
- Make sure to remove yellow and brown leaves from any plants in the terrarium. This is typically a sign of some disease or pest.
- If you have an open terrarium, monitor for pests for example gnats or mealy bugs.
- If you have closed terrarium, you could want to remove the lid now and then to let in some fresh air.
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Building your terrarium
- Place a thin layer approximately 1 inch of small stones in the bottom of the terrarium to help drainage.
- Place a thin layer (approx. 1/2 inch) of activated charcoal over the stones and these acts as a filtration substrate and keeps the water cleaner.
- Place a thin layer of sphagnum moss or a fine screen over the charcoal to act as a barrier to check to settle the soil.
- Place a layer of potting soil approximately 2 inches deep.
- Create small holes for roots and carefully plant your plants in the soil.
- Finishing touches for add ornaments or decorations to give your terrarium a special theme.
- Lightly mist with water, about 10 sprays to the soil and sides of the jars.
- Close container very tightly with lid or cover.
List of terrarium plants
List of plants work best in terrariums are;
The friendship plant grows 10 to 12 inches tall and has distinct leaves with deep craters. A good selection for terrariums because friendship plants prefer moist soil and full shade to partial sun.
East Indian Holly Fern
These ferns enjoy the moist potting mix and high humidity creates inside a terrarium. Its glossy plant leaves shine behind the glass, creating texture and visual interest.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant
This ‘Moon Valley’ friendship plant provides delicate patterning with deeply textured craters and valleys on two-toned leaves, which are tinted red on the underside. The fast-grower tolerates low light and at its maximum reaches 12 inches tall and wide; it could surprise with delicate pink flowers, too. This plant is a perfect size to enclose in virtually several glass containers that are fit for a terrarium, such as cloches or jars.
Red-Veined Prayer Plant
Red-veined prayer is a stunning plant. The prayer plant got its name because it folds up this plant leaves at night, as if in prayer. If it is not getting enough light, you will know because the plant leaves will stay folded even during the daytime. Prayer plants like to be warm, so do not keep terrarium next to a cold window or in a chilly draft.
Watermelon peperomia plant features green and silver variegated leaves, resembling watermelon skin. This enjoys moist conditions and grows up to 8 inches tall, making it ideal for terrarium life. It is an excellent choice for a terrarium because it only grows to be eight inches tall. This Watermelon peperomia plant enjoys a moist environment as well.
The plant stays 6 inches tall and thrives with the low but regular light and damp conditions beneath the terrarium glass. Divide it for another terrarium or doing a leaf cutting.
Ensure your terrarium is well planted by layering in 2 to 3 inches of fertilized soil and embed plants into that. Please, try to avoid landscape textile between the layers.
Starfish Flower Cactus
The star-shape starfish cactus plant prefers humidity (despite being called a cactus) and has stunning strap-like leaves that change color depending on the light. Its slow-growing nature makes it well-suited for a terrarium. This cactus plant is unique because it’s shaped like a starfish. It grows to be only 6 inches tall, which makes it ideal for a terrarium. Also, the plant leaves will become a lighter or darker green based on how much sunlight they receive.
Mosses are a common terrarium staple as they’re easy to find and easy to produce. Scottish and Irish moss are two popular and hardy choices.
This is also called Angel’s Tears and this plant is made up of tiny leaves that look great on a small scale. It grows abundantly which can be a problem in an outdoor garden, but it does well contain in a terrarium.
This Baby’s tears plant has delicate rounded leaves and loves high humidity and low light. Use its low-growing, carpeting nature as a good base for other plants in the terrarium. A baby tears plant will stay small only about 12 inches tall making it easy to tuck into any terrarium.
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The nerve plant is a tropical plant with beautifully patterned plant leaves in white, burgundy, and green. It thrives under the moist, warm air of a terrarium and will reach 12 inches when fully mature. To plant a nerve plant inside a terrarium, Martin starts with a 2-inch layer of pebbles mixed with a tablespoon of charcoal; the latter acts as filtration to keep everything “sweet” for terrarium plants.
Artillery fern plants are not ferns at all but are members of the Pilea family. These are called artillery ferns because it shoots its seeds with a popping sound and sometimes quite a distance. Despite that explosive trait, these fern plants are delicate and have a lovely, interesting texture. You will find it easy to grow and it should thrive with minimal care.
Polka Dot Plant
Polka dots seem to have a great sense of humor. This Polka dot plant is cheerful and comes in pink, red, and silver varieties. Easy to care for, it might need to be pinched back if it gets too tall or starts to obtain spindly or leggy. Splattered leaves create Polka Dot Plant an unusual and attractive house plant.
Variegated Spider Fern
Variegated spider fern seems to glow in a terrarium, thanks to the shine of glossy leaves. A broad yellow center band on all leaf supplies visual interest for the easy-growing fern. Spider fern is a low light terrarium plant that enjoys the moist potting mix and high humidity create inside a terrarium.
Even though golden clubmoss reaches only 6 inches in height and it likes to spread, so it’s important to keep it trimmed inside a terrarium. The light green foliage gives a bright pop of color amidst darker-color plants.
Aluminum Plant (Pilea Cadierei)
The aluminum plant is a native of Vietnam, likes low to medium light and warm temperatures. The plant leaves have almost iridescent white markings that make it shine. This plant grows fairly quickly, so you could have to pinch it back occasionally. The aluminum plant is easy to root as well and simply take a small cutting and plant it in moist soil.
The delicate African violet plant produces blooms in blue, pink, purple and white. Ideal for terrarium life because it grows from a 1 inch to 6 inches tall and likes moist soil. This desirable, purple-blossomed plant can be difficult to produce in an open pot. They need a humid, warm environment. A terrarium makes it easy to provide both. Plant first in potting soil, and then enclose the plant in a closed glass container.
A dwarf variety of this tree-like plant can look like a tiny forest inside the terrarium. Creeping fig plants will tolerate some shade and indirect light. They develop quickly but can be pruned back with ease. Creeping fig plant often used instead of ivy as a cover-up, this fast-growing, trailing fig has inch-long leaves. This is excellent for stuffed topiary and terrariums.
This plant can be grown in terrarium environments or as a covering for topiaries as well. Strawberry begonia plants are a good selection for the indoor gardener and it is rapidly growing houseplant. Strawberry Begonia plant does well in the humid environment of a container or terrarium.
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