I suppose its not really a mania if it's only two terrariums (and wouldn't it be a manium in the singular anyway)? But the title sounded fun so I'm going to leave it.
At any rate, I've been reading about making terrariums lately and I finally made two of them this past week. I had found an aquarium at Goodwill for $8 right before Christmas, and had entertained thoughts of trying to fashion it into a sort of Wardian Case, but trying to make an inexpensive glass roof for the tank was not as easy as I had hoped (I learned something about how to cut glass in the process, but not how to do it very well, let's just say).
So I decided to make a simplified version and just added a bit of embellishment to the aquarium (I glued ornamental metal ribbon around the top and base of it to dress it up a bit). Then after having read several very clever and amusing books on making terrariums (Tiny World Terrariums and Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass were two of the most inspiring and helpful titles), I thought about what would be fun versions of terrariums, and came up with a few ideas. I bought about ten tiny starter plants from a local nursery, and also, because I have been reading about moss gardening, during a thaw last weekend I gathered some moss that was growing in one of our windbreaks and included that in the larger terrarium.
I also looked around at my son's collections of rocks, fossils, toy dinosaurs and other small toys (the Smurfs were left over from my brother's and my own childhood collections, so they have a special -- and fairly silly -- place in my childhood memories). After picking up some large bags of gravel and some horticultural charcoal (which aerates and cleans the soil), I got to the fun part: playing with dirt, plants and toys.
For those of you who haven't made a terrarium before, it's pretty simple:
- Find a container, either one that is open at the top or with a lid (although it's best if the lid does not completely seal, because some air flow prevents mold from growing).
- Put a 1-2" layer of gravel at the bottom of the container for drainage.
- Place a piece of paper on top of the gravel to prevent soil from washing down into the gravel.
- Add a little horticultural charcoal on top of the paper.
- Top with a couple inches of soil.
- Plant a selection of tiny plants into the soil, adding more soil as needed.
- Add non-biodegradable decorative items for amusement.
- Mist the soil around the plants as needed with a spray bottle, and remove the lid if the glass becomes fogged up.
|It's a bit hard to see inside because of the multiple glass reflections, but here's the large terrarium I made: A forest scene populated by Smurfs going about their various leisure activities.|
|Here's an aerial view that's not affected by the reflections.|
|I thought this little guy was the funniest of all, intent on chopping down the Begonia.|
|An overview of the terrarium with the partial lid on. I placed a humidity sensor inside for a while to see how humid it was in there, even with only the partial lid.|
Since I had a few plants left over and I also had a lidded glass jar that I wasn't using for anything, I decided to make a second terrarium, with a dinosaur theme:
| Two toy dinosaurs and a fossil accompany the ancient ferns and other plants in this |
smaller terrarium. Again, it's hard to get a good photo through the glass.
|A clearer photo from above. The plants in here include what I think is probably a miniature Alocasia, a Lemon Button Fern Nephrolepis and another Club Moss Selaginella.|
This project was a lot of fun and just the sort of thing to occupy a northern gardener during the winter months. The process of making it and figuring out where to put the plants and toys was the best part, but I'm also looking forward to seeing how the plants grow (or fail to thrive and then die, as also happens sometimes) in the terrariums.
Before this winter, I knew almost nothing about indoor plants, but I've slowly been learning a bit over the past few months. Making and caring for a terrarium is yet another part of indoor gardening that I've enjoyed learning about.
I highly recommend making a terrarium -- it's fun to do and the plants require less care than other house plants, because they don't need to be watered as often due to the higher humidity, which also results in healthier plants than the dry, centrally-heated air in our homes does. And if you have children or grandchildren, they often find terrariums as fascinating as we do.
Thanks for reading! -Beth