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Terrariums harken back to the Victorian era where ladies would create magnificent flora displays to showcase their horticultural talents. Beyond these small-scale man made worlds, the Victorians created the Conservatory in which hot tropic grasslands, humid rainforests, arid deserts, and even barren alpine hills were recreated inside. Where as modern terrarium containers include glass jars or open bowls, the Victorian terrariums where miniature replicas of their beloved Conservatories.
I recently taught my Junior Master Gardener class how to make terrariums. Terrariums offer a unique gardening experience in which children and adults learn to recreate a biome and the water cycle, as well as maintain a habitable world. The children thoroughly enjoyed this project. One child added a small frog to his terrarium.
Enjoy the beauty of plants indoors this summer by creating your very own!
First, you'll need to gather the following items, all of which can be found at your local gardening supply store: potting soil, pebbles or pea gravel, activated charcoal, and spagnum moss. You will also need plants for your terrarium. Some of my students brought plants from the garden: clover, ivy, and a variety of grasses and moss. Others bought their plants: ivy, ferns, and succulents. If you use succulents, instead of potting soil, you will need a specialized succulent soil. You will also need a container. The best containers are those made from glass. You can select an ornate jar or a over-sized pickle jar; it is really up to your preference. Succulents work best in an open glass bowl.
First, ensure your jar or bowl is clean. Then, place approximately one inch of pebbles in your jar. The pebbles will act as your drainage.
Next, add 1/2 inch of activated charcoal. Make sure to not mix the pebbles and the charcoal. The charcoal is the filter for your little biome.
After the charcoal, add one to two inches of spagnum moss. You should pack it down slightly. The moss acts as your soil barrier.
Then, add one to two inches of potting soil. This will depend on the size of your jar and plants. Again, slightly pack this down. By now, you should easily be able to see the four layers of your terrarium through the glass.
This is actually my favorite part: you may now add your plants! After I get them planted, I like to add a few pebbles and moss pieces to the top for decoration.
Don't forget to add moisture to your terrarium. You want to ensure your plants are thriving, but do not over water. You can leave your terrarium open or closed, but you need to check on it daily for the first month. Make adjustments as needed. If you add an insect or small reptile, make sure you are feeding it properly.
I hope you enjoy this project as much as my students did!
I've started to get terrarium fever - I'm experimenting with this jar, as I've planted forget-me-nots in it. I'll update on their growth.