TERRARIUM CARE GUIDE
All I need is love!
What am I
I am a living garden under glass called a Terrarium. A self-sustainable environment where I recycle my water and photosynthesise in natural light to keep me living inside my vessel. My glass vessel contains living plants that are ideal for closed terrariums. My plants will require a little bit of attention when you first take me home or to your desk in the office, just carefully follow the advice below and your on your way!
I enjoy natural to low light conditions, but not complete darkness and never in direct sunlight. I do not like being next to a radiator as my steam will build up inside my glass too often! I am sensitive if I am moved around too much. I will settle just fine if I am left in one position. If you have just made me at a workshop, you will need to maintain me and closely monitor each day for the first few weeks.
Regulating my environment
If you have made a terrarium at one of our workshops, when you get your garden home please place it in a low to medium lit room, some good natural light is perfect, or in a north facing window, not too much Sun basically.
The goal to create a perfect environment for your terrarium is to ensure it has some water droplets on the inside of the glass. Usually the glass will have some steam if the room is cooler, especially in the morning times. This is normal, because the air already trapped inside is usually warmer than the external air and any moisture inside will naturally rise and stick to the glass in the form of condensation. This is the terrarium’s natural rain cycle.
Your terrarium will need watering up to 3 times a year on average in our experience. Unless you have used a rubber seal in your jars, then less watering is required normally. Simply pop your finger into the soil or moss and if it is dry, water it with a light spray of distilled or rain water is best, tap water will do, but if you can get rain, is better! The plants will also tell you when it is needing a watering, they go a little crinkly on the leaves and the mosses go a little pale green!
Your glass vessel will usually get more condensation on the glass in the early mornings as the temperature is generally cooler in your home. As the radiators go on or natural day temperatures begins to rise, your terrarium will see some condensation inside. As the day goes on, the condensation usually reduces. This is normal! However, if your terrarium has constant high levels of condensation inside that you cannot see your plants throughout the day, then you probably have too much moisture inside. See below on how to regulate:-
Regulating & Establishing the Eco-System
If you have recently made a terrarium, take it home and open up your lid for the first 24 hours as this allows the plants to get used to it’s new glass vessel environment. Place your lid back on after 24 hours and then monitor your garden daily for 2-3 weeks by simply looking at the plants each day to see how they are doing. If you are getting too much steam on the glass, simply open your lid half way for 1 or 2 hours to regulate it, then place it back on. The goal is to have a few droplets, not steam all day long! You just have to watch it and regulate it often to start with, but avoid drying it out too much. Once the gardens settle, they will not need the lids taken off for months at a time, therefore can be left alone to do their thing!
Purchasing a terrarium
If you have purchased a terrarium from a shop, they would have had some time to settle and start their eco-system cycle off. You just need to ensure you place it in a low to medium light position and to monitor them for a few weeks. Your home temperatures are going to be different so you may need to take off the lid a little to control any excess condensation at first until it settles into it’s own cycle. Or you may not need to at all!
The Eco-System will establish once it has settled into it’s new home, therefore taking in light to photosynthesise, giving out as well as taking in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Oxygen (O2) throughout a 24 hour cycle and using the moisture inside to drink and be happy!
Avoiding Mould & Maintaining the plants
As you monitor your plants & mosses inside the terrarium , you are looking for any early signs of mould growth. It looks like little cotton wool forming on the stems of the plants. As soon as you see this, you MUST remove it immediately with your fingers and remove any affected leaves to avoid it spreading. Leave your lid open for a few hours to dry out the terrarium a little. If your terrarium is too dry after airing it out, then simply spray it with distilled or rain water is best. You only need up to 2 table spoons of water.
Mould can sometimes attack living plants due to hidden spores inside the soil of the plants or mosses. This can be annoying of course! However this is sometimes unavoidable, but not always common. To reduce the mould remove anything that looks like it has a mould issue to stop it spreading. The worst case scenario is having to replace the contents of the terrarium due to any hidden pests or mould spores not easily found early on! We do not advocate the use of pesticides or other chemicals in our workshops, we believe in handling these in the most natural way possible.
If you have a need to replace plants inside your terrarium, for instance if they have died for any reason, or you simply want to get creative and build some more, then we have given you a list of common plants used in closed terrariums to try out. If you want plants, we can sell them to you or simply go to your local garden centre and order some.
Colourful plants with nerve – like structures, also commonly known as “Nerve Plant”. They are from South American jungles and are used to dappled shade and moist conditions, but not wet!
Ivy tends to grow fairly quickly, simply prune from time to time if required. Leaves can go brown if too dry. Avoid too much moisture. Give them a light pruning from time to time if necessary. If you have the variegated (several shades of green on the leaves) then it will need a little natural light to keep it’s colour.
Hill shaped thick moss is perfect for green landscapes and add true nature to your terrarium garden. They like to be kept moist. Remember moisture from the moss equals moisture in your terrarium, so avoid watering plants too much. If it goes brown, remove the brown bits. It will grow upwards over time.
Chamaedorea (meaning “ground gift”)
A native palm to subtropical and tropical regions (also known as Parlour Palm) they can be used in terrariums but will need a little pruning at times as they will grow tall over time. They give a terrarium a very tropical look and feel. They like high humidity but not soaking wet.
Ficus Ginseng trees
Native to Africa and Asia, these little trees love to be kept in humid conditions and have a steady temperature range of between 60 F and 80 F. It does only need watering if it goes dry on the surface, but as it’s inside in a closed terrarium, the moisture should remain constant in it’s soil therefore not requiring watering often. Pruning me if I get a little too bushy is easy, simply snip off the stems up to 2 leaves every summer. This tree is part of the rubber family, so when you do snip the stems a white milky latex will flow out. It is sticky, so wash your hands, but it will seal itself up.
Polyscia Trees (meaning “many shade”)
A fantastic indoor tree that actually tolerates shade quite well. I grow straight up by producing leaves from the bottom. I am native to the South Pacific region. It is also related to ginseng tree and Ivy. They add a lovely green woodland feel to your terrarium. Likes humid conditions and does not need a lot of watering in your terrarium. It can grow to over 1m in an open pot, but to keep it from going too tall, just prune the stems back a little if it goes too big over time.