Terrariums - Knowledgebase Question

Avila Beach, CA
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Question by aturner1
October 25, 1998
How do I start a terrarium? What do I need? What kind of containers are good? How do I maintain it?


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Answer from NGA
October 25, 1998
Terrariums are self sustaining ecosystems that should require minimal care if they're properly set up. You can use an old aquarium (first choice because it has a lid and a light), or almost any clear glass bottle, snifter or bowl for your container. Start by placing a shallow layer of gravel on the bottom of the container. Then you can place some growing medium into the bottom of the container (such as moistened potting soil that you've squeezed the excess moisture out of) and then planting very small, slow growing plants in the soil. Once everything is in place, mist the plants lightly and cover the top of the container with clear glass. The terrarium will provide a rainforest effect and the plants should thrive without further watering. When bright light is supplied, the plants will transpire, and droplets of liquid will coat the inside and top of the container. They will fall back down onto the plants and run back into the soil. The plant roots will take up the water, move it to the leaves, and it will be released into the atmosphere where it will collect on the sides and top of the container, only to drop back down again into the soil. Some plant to consider growing include ferns, ivy, acorus, peperomia, dracaena, fittonia and African violets. Keep your terrarium in bright light, but out of direct sunlight.


Avatar for micaelaburlando94
Answer from micaelaburlando94
June 10, 2020
There are a variety of ways one could build a terrarium. Understanding the types of terrariums will be ideal if you want a thriving, healthy setup. Furthermore, you will have to decide on what you will keep in this enclosure and what will be the requirements. In other words, how much water will those plants require to survive?

Closed Container Terrariums

A closed container is the best type of terrarium for plants that require quite a bit of humidity and watering. This enclosure requires all three key features we talked about earlier. As far as lighting goes, I recommend artificial lighting or indirect sunlight.

One good thing about this type of build is that it won't require much watering. The plants release water vapor. As the vapors rise, they become trapped in the glass and fall back down to the substrate. The plant recycles the water down to the roots. However, this type of sealed enclosure tends to fog up parts of the glass, ultimately disrupting the view of the terrarium.

Open Container Terrariums

This is suitable for a wider variety of plants than the other two containers. Even with the overall humidity being lower than a closed container setup, you have much more control over the moisture levels by just adding or removing water. This type of arrangement also requires all three key features. Artificial lighting, direct sunlight, or indirect sunlight will suffice for this setup.

It's a good idea to add a drainage plug for easier water removal. This type of structure can be used as either a dry or wet terrarium. The only con with this kind of container is it may require a bit more maintenance than the other two.

Dish Container Terrariums

These are by far the easiest to build and manage. This type of terrarium is a low-humidity setup and requires very little to no watering. Dish terrariums often don't require all three key features. On many occasions, the drainage & substrate layers are one and the same. In fact, if you are building a terrarium that only houses air plants, you can get away with eliminating those two layers entirely!

There aren't many disadvantages when it comes to the maintenance of a dish container terrarium. Any type of lighting will work well with this setup. You can set and forget this type of enclosure!

I got all this info for from this site: https://bantam.earth/terrarium...
They have pretty much everything you need to know about terrariums, how to build them, and how to care for them.

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