Terrariums Can Bring Nature Indoors

Spending time in nature, interacting with the wonders of creation, is a proven way to soothe a troubled soul. Nothing adjusts your perspective on life like spending mindful time in a garden, nurturing growing things.

Not everyone is blessed with outdoor space, though, so if you’re determined to have plants in your home nevertheless, a terrarium is the answer. With as little as 30cm x 30cm x 30cm of space that receives some natural light, even if it is muted, you can grow a terrarium. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, cultivating a terrarium indoors is still a stress-relieving hobby.

True Terrariums: Low Fuss

What many garden centers sell as “terrariums” really irk botany experts. Succulents in an open jar, requiring lots of light and dry conditions, are not a terrarium, even though they can be just as satisfying to cultivate. Strictly speaking, a terrarium requires a sealed glass environment: “terrarium” is Latin for “enclosed earth”. Part of what makes them wondrous is a whole ecosystem thriving in a closed container for decades.

If you layer the planting base properly, choose suitable plants and ensure the system has the right amount of water, you can then seal the jar. Your terrarium should sustain itself happily with no further input, except the bonus of daily enjoyment of the tiny changes as things grow.

Building A True Terrarium

Botanical scientists like James Wong recommend a simple shape for the glass container, like a sphere or a box, with a lid that seals. Length, breadth and height should each measure at least 30cm, although you may require a bit more height for taller plants.

Put a 4cm layer of gravel or pebbles on the bottom to provide aeration and drainage, then cover it with 1cm of activated charcoal. This kills bacteria in soil water as it drains, keeping soil healthy, and protecting plants from disease. It also stops your terrarium getting stinky, so don’t omit this step as you won’t want to sit near it when playing online bingo for real money if it pongs.

Add another 4cm layer of sphagnum moss; bought, like all these ingredients, from a garden center or reputable online dealer. It is illegal to harvest sphagnum from nature without a license in many jurisdictions. The moss helps retain moisture and purify water before it gets to the gravel, reducing the risk of smelly mold growth.

Topsoil And Plant Choice Key

Then add your final layer of topsoil; enough to fill one-fifth of the container on its own, so 6cm for a 30cm tank. Be sure to use a nutritious triple-mix topsoil containing equal parts peat moss, sand, and soil.

The odds are that only leaves 15cm of growth space unless your container is taller, so do some research on different plant sizes before choosing a selection. Also, consider that sealed terrariums suit plants that like low light and high humidity.

Once you seal it, some misting on the glass daily is normal, but constant heavy condensation or water around the seal means the air is a bit too moist. Open the terrarium for a few minutes, then seal it again. Repeat daily until a cycle of light condensation, then evaporation is established in the container. Thereafter, leave it sealed.