Greenery in glass containers

Greenery in glass containers

miniature ecosystems A closed terrarium harbours its own unique bio-system requiring care.What’s a terrarium?

It’s usually an open or enclosed collection of plants and animals for decoration or scientific research, simulating a portion of the species’ natural ecosystem. A dry habitat like desert/grassland/woodland is replicated in miniature.

You’re creating a self-sustaining, miniature landscape with living plants and even animals, a mini-ecosystem, a total biosphere in a glass container.  Great! Some plants and animals in a glass case watered every day It’s not that simple. First, are all the plant and animal species mutually compatible? Is the species’ natural habitat successfully re-created? The container’s right?

But, once established, your terrarium needs only a little indirect sunlight; watering isn’t required for months.

How’s that possible?

Moisture in the terrarium evaporates from the soil/plant leaves, condenses on its roof/walls, sliding down and re-moistening the soil. The cycle rolls on.

Where do I begin?

Visit friends pursuing this hobby or browse related websites. Decide on the terrarium type you want. Pick a suitable glass container. Plan the ecosystem and aesthetic landscaping. Visualise the final effect. Make changes, if any. Now proceed.
Which terrarium type is recommended?

Terrariums can be open or closed. The former is topless and sometimes, devoid of side-walls too. A dish-terrarium with a desert habitat is recommended for beginners, being easy to make/maintain and the plants being hardy. A closed terrarium harbours its own unique bio-system requiring care. Micro-terrariums are small enough to sit on your palm.

 Which kind of plants and animals are preferable?

Small ones that stay small. Small ferns, mosses and ivies are favourites. Succulents and cacti are ideal for children’s projects. Only avoid overly thorny ones. Pick plants with colourful leaves. Animals shouldn’t fight with other terrarium denizens, dig the soil or eat up the plants either. Choose from among crickets, lizards, tarantulas and if you’re game for some sweating – toads, hermit crabs, land snails or salamanders. Homogeneity in lighting, watering and humidity needs of all the species is vital.  

How do I choose the right container?

Any clear glass container of the size suitable to your plants or animals will do. Find an appropriate lid. Terrariums have been created in light-bulbs, old bottles, containers, glass dome bell-jars and lighting fixtures even. Themes range from a moonscape, fairy scene, Japanese garden to Hawaiian beach scene.   

How about tools?

A spoon’s your shovel, a fork your rake, small scissors are shears; slim sticks help in digging or inserting plants in narrow-mouthed containers.  

Which are the different layers?

A sand and pebbles drainage layer at the container’s bottom, a thin charcoal layer over it to clear the fumes resulting from organic decomposition, next, a thin sphagnum moss layer over it to prevent soil from running down into the drainage layer and finally, a layer of soil and vermicompost.  

Any other essentials?

Adequate lighting, heating, humidity and ventilation arrangements. A water-dish is necessary for animals. Little ceramic statues and figures and landscaping soil/sand into hills and valleys are optional aesthetic additions.  

Any precautions?

While planting, make a depression into the soil layer and insert your plant with its root-ball into it.

Tackle soil sogginess, wilting plants or any other abnormalities for a week after setting it up. Once it settles down, your terrarium doesn’t demand daily care. The leaves shouldn’t touch the terrarium’s sides.

If the water-drops on the glass are too large, leave the container open for a while to allow the excess moisture to evaporate. If it looks too dry, water slightly.
Remove diseased plants immediately.  Prune stems if they overgrow the container.

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