Essentially a self-sustaining miniature ecosystem, a terrarium is both a fascinating study in nature and an interesting home display piece. As can be gathered from its size, it isn’t at all difficult to build one, and it doesn’t take much to maintain it, either.
In building a terrarium, one should first decide on the type of container that they are going to use. One may use any clear glass or transparent plastic container, such as fish bowls, bottles, jars, or even specially-made terrarium containers. The container should be big enough to accommodate the plants one chooses to place inside it, small enough to be displayed indoors, and its lid should fit tightly.
It is also important to ensure that the container is thoroughly cleaned, as stained and blurry plastic or glass would block out light and impede the growth of the plants. One should also consider which parts of the container will be the front and the back of the terrarium. This is because the front is where the lower-growing, denser plants should be placed, while the taller plants are to be placed in the back. Add a hill in the center if the terrarium is meant to be viewed from every side.
Next comes preparing the different elements of the terrarium. Start with placing a layer of aquarium rocks or pea gravel at the container’s bottom to facilitate drainage. This layer is then covered with a layer of around ½” horticultural charcoal, which is to prevent the soil from smelling rotten. One may also opt to place Sphagnum moss over the layer of charcoal in order to block soil away from the drainage area.
Approximately ½” of soil is then added to the terrarium; the soil should be sufficiently dry so that it doesn’t stick to the terrarium’s sides. To make the terrarium look interesting, one can use a big kitchen spoon to put in additional slopes or hills. If one decides to put decoration pieces (like seashells, rocks or wood) in the terrarium, make sure that they are properly arranged so as to allow enough room for the plants.
Once the other components of the terrarium are in place, it is time for the actual planting. Dig up the holes into which the plants will be placed. If the container happens to be rather deep, one may use a pair of tongs in placing the plants inside the terrarium. Make sure that the plants are precisely planted; sitting not any higher or lower from the soil than they did on the pot they were originally planted in. Also, make certain that the soil is firmly packed around the plants’ base. One can place more moss or additional decoration pieces if they wish to further improve the terrarium’s look.
Compared to a regular garden, the remarkable thing about terrariums is that they don’t require as much attention. One doesn’t have to water their terrarium heavily; all that is required is to spray just a little water on the plants’ leaves, a sufficient enough amount of water to reach the soil. Leave the terrarium alone for a day, after which inspect the water level at its bottom and ensure that it does not go past ¼”. Give the terrarium another spraying, wait for the leaves to dry off, then put the lid back on and allow the plants to thrive on their own in their beautiful enclosed environment.