Building A Terrarium
If you are looking to use your spare time to make a rewarding craft that you can gaze upon later for a sense of accomplishment, or needing something constructive to do with the kids, building your own terrarium could be the solution. Terrariums are easy to take care of and can be a beautiful addition to any room in your home.
When building your own terrarium, you will need a few items. Most importantly, you will need the terrarium itself. Any type of plastic or glass container will work, so long as it is clear. Cloudy materials prohibit light, therefore decreasing the growth of the plant. Any fish tank, fish bowl, or curved glass bowl will work well. Other items you will need are, of course, the plant or plants you wish to place in the terrarium, soil, pea gravel or aquarium rocks, horticultural charcoal, a large kitchen spoon, and a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Items to decorate the terrarium are optional as well as sphagnum moss, which keeps the soil from getting into the drainage area of the terrarium.
After you have all the materials you will need, it is time to decide the layout of the terrarium. If the terrarium will be visible from all sides, you will want to put a hill in the middle of it, so all plants visible as well. If there will be a front and back to the terrarium, the taller plants should be placed in the back, and the low growing plants in the front.
Now it is time to begin putting the terrarium together. First, you will want to place a layer of pea gravel or aquarium rocks in the bottom. This will allow for water drainage. Next, you will need approximately a one-half inch layer of horticultural charcoal. This creates a base for potting, facilitates drainage, and also keeps the soil from producing a foul, rotting smell. Sphagnum moss can now be placed atop the charcoal if you wish. As previously mentioned, this will prohibit soil from getting into the drainage area. Now add about one half inch of relatively dry soil to your terrarium. It should be dry enough so that it will not stick to the sides. Here you can do landscaping, placing slopes or hills in the soil. This can be easily done with a large kitchen spoon.
If adding decorative pieces to the terrarium, this is the time to do it. Be sure that anything you place in the terrarium will not be harmful to your plants and arrange them leaving adequate space for the plants as well. Next, start scooping out the potting holes for your plants. Take time to make sure the plants sit no higher or lower in the soil than they did in the pots they came in and be sure that the soil is packed firmly around the base.
Now you will want to spray the leaves with distilled water. Tap water contains chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride. You will not want these chemicals in such a small, closed-in environment, as they will only cause harm to your plants. This will be all the water needed at the time. The next day, check the water at the bottom to make sure that it does not exceed ¼ of an inch. Spray the leaves again and then wait until the leaves are completely dry. Then place the cover over the terrarium.
When you build a terrarium, remember that they really do thrive on neglect. All plants breathe by taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen. The plants take in light and carbon dioxide, which causes photosynthesis to take place. This is how the plant produces its own food. After the moisture in the soil condenses, it will turn back into moisture because of the heat in the terrarium, and condensation will take place on the sides of the terrarium. This water will run down the sides and effectively water the plants. This process continues taking place and this is how the plants can survive with very little care.
Now you have your very own, homemade terrarium. All that is left to do is… nothing! Just sit back and watch your plants take care of themselves.