The most detailed guides on the internet for plant and terrarium maintenance, creation and care.
What is a Terrarium, and How Does It Work?
What is a Terrarium, and How Does It Work?

What is a Terrarium, and How Does It Work?

A terrarium is a captivating and unique way to bring nature indoors. 

These miniature, self-contained ecosystems are not only visually appealing but also serve as educational tools that offer insights into the natural world. 

Terrariums come in various types, including open, closed, and semi-closed, each with its unique characteristics and requirements. 

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of terrariums, their history, how they function, and how you can create one for yourself.

What is a Terrarium?

A terrarium is a glass container that houses a small, indoor garden. 

It typically contains soil, rocks, and plants, and sometimes even small animals or insects. 

Terrariums date back to the Victorian era when English botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward accidentally discovered that plants could thrive in a sealed glass container. 

This discovery led to the creation of the Wardian case, the predecessor of modern terrariums.

Terrariums can host various plant species, from tropical plants like ferns and orchids to succulents and mosses. 

They can also serve as habitats for small animals or insects such as frogs, reptiles, insects and more, making them engaging and educational for people of all ages.

How Does a Terrarium Work?

Terrariums are fascinating because they replicate the Earth’s natural processes on a smaller scale. 

Sunlight plays a crucial role in a terrarium, as it fuels photosynthesis in plants. 

This process enables plants to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen, promoting growth and purifying the air within the container.

The water cycle is another essential aspect of a terrarium’s functionality. 

Water evaporates from the soil and plant leaves, condenses on the container’s walls, and then falls back to the soil, mimicking natural precipitation. 

In a closed terrarium, this process is entirely self-sustaining, requiring minimal intervention from the terrarium’s owner.

Microorganisms are vital players in a terrarium’s ecosystem, especially in closed terrariums. 

They help maintain a healthy balance by breaking down dead plant material and releasing nutrients back into the soil. 

The level of maintenance required for a terrarium depends on its type, with closed terrariums needing less attention than open or semi-closed varieties.

Creating Your Own Terrarium

To create a terrarium, you’ll need a glass container, plants, soil, rocks, and other decorative elements like moss or driftwood. 

The first step is selecting a suitable container that complements the plants you plan to use. 

Next, create layers within the container, starting with a drainage layer of rocks or gravel, followed by a layer of activated charcoal to help filter the water, and finally a layer of soil.

When selecting plants for your terrarium, it’s essential to choose species that will thrive in the specific conditions of your container. 

For instance, succulents prefer open terrariums with good air circulation, while tropical plants do well in closed terrariums with high humidity. 

Ensure that the plants you choose have similar light, temperature, and moisture requirements to ensure their survival.

Proper placement and care of your terrarium are crucial to its success. 

Most terrariums need indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can cause excessive heat and harm the plants. 

The temperature should remain relatively consistent, and watering requirements will vary depending on the type of terrarium and the plants inside. 

Open terrariums generally require more frequent watering than closed terrariums.

In Conclusion…

Terrariums offer numerous benefits as a low-maintenance, eco-friendly, and educational hobby. 

They are a unique way to bring nature indoors and can serve as conversation starters, decorative elements, or learning tools. 

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a complete beginner, creating and caring for a terrarium can be a fulfilling and educational endeavor. 

So why not give it a try? Dive into the world of terrariums, and you might just discover a new passion that brings you closer to the natural world. And if you’re looking to find out more about terrariums, take a look at our ultimate guide to terrariums.