How To Plant Terrariums

How To Plant Terrariums

Terrariums date back nearly 150 years to an accidental discovery by a scientist. Whilst studying the development of a moth chrysalis, he also discovered that plants would germinate and grow in closed glass cases. His experiments showed that a whole variety of tropical plants flourished and the terrarium was soon put to practical use for transporting newly discovered plants by ship from the tropics to Europe.

Today terrariums are becoming popularagain. They often resemble miniature Crystal Palaces, and normally have a hinged or removable panel for easy planting and maintenance. Unfortunately, because they take time to construct, they are expensive to buy, and the beginner would be well advised to consider other glass containers first. Small fish tanks or round fish bowls are excellent, as are old, well washed acid battery containers. In fact, anything with glass sides and either no top or a removable one would be ideal.

Planting the terrarium

No special equipment is required, but an essential point to remember about a terrarium is that you must be able to get at least one hand into it.

To plant, place about 1-2.5 cm (H in) of gravel on the bottom and mix in about 55-85 gr (2-3 oz) of charcoal. Cover this with blotting paper or newspaper. Next, add at least 5 cm (2 in) of potting compost with 25 per cent extra peat added. Press down firmly and water. Leave for a day, then plant with small plants, arranged to suit the container.

Always choose small and relatively slow growing plants. Be careful not to over-water, as this can cause rotting, because the water cannot evaporate.

Suitable plants

  • peperomia
  • fittonia dracaena red edge
  • pilea
  • adiantum
  • saintpaulia
  • pteris
  • cryptanthus
  • chlorophytum

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