Terrariums, Wardian Cases and Jardinieres
The forms of plant cases for the growth of such plants as require a moist, still atmosphere, a condition impossible to obtain in a room in a dwelling-house, nor even in a greenhouse, unless it is specially erected for the purpose, are numerous. The form commonly known as the terrarium or Wardian Case, has a base or try, usually of black walnut, about six inches deep, and lined with zinc, and glass sides and top. These differ in size, some being as large as three feet on the sides.
Another neat and cheaper form is made of terra cotta, or other earthen ware. These are usually round in shape, and of various sizes, from nine to eighteen inches in diameter. In all these the plants must be covered with glass. In the terrarium or wardian case, there is glass all around the sides and top, the top being hinged to allow escape of excess moisture.
In the Jardinieres, or circular form, the plants are covered by a bell-glass, which is tilted up a little at the side when there is an appearance of excel moisture. This condition of excess is known by the glass becoming dimmed by moisture, and the water trickling down by the side.
Usually, when this appearance is seen, by raising the glass lid of the Wardian case or terrarium an inch or so for the day, it will relieve it enough to enable it to be kept close, which is the proper way to keep it for the well-being of the plants. The plants grown in this way are of kinds valued for the beauty of their foliage rather than for their flowers, and should be such as are of a somewhat slow growth. All rampant growing plants, such as Coleus, are unsuited. The effectiveness of these Cases depends a great deal on the arrangement of the plants.
The tallest and most conspicuous things should be in the center, with smaller ones towards the edges, varying the interest by contrasting the different colorings and forms of leaves. Among the plants best suited for growing under these coverings e Dracaenas, Gymtostachiums, Marantas, Caladiums, some of the ornamental leaved Eranthemums, and dwarf-growing Begonias, Peromias, etc., and Ferns and Lycopods of the finer sorts. The most of these plants whose natural habitat is shady woods or marshes; and for their well being, the nearer that the Wardian case, terrarium or Jardiniere can be made to imitate such, the better.
The soil used in terrariums or Wardian cases should be light and porous. The most convenient, and a very suitable material, is leaf mold, which can be collected in any piece of woodland. After planting, the terrarium soil should be watered freely, to settle it around the roots. To allow evaporation, ventilation should be given for a few days after the watering, when the glass may be put down close, only to be opened, as before directed, when an excess of moisture shows on the glass. Other than this there is no trouble whatever in the management of the terrarium. The watering given on planting will be sufficient to keep it moist enough for six or eight weeks.
In winter the temperature of the room in which the terrarium, Wardian case or Fernery is kept may run from fifty to seventy degrees at night. These closed plant cases of either kind are particularly well adapted for growing Hyacinths in winter, if desired; but they must first be placed in some cool, dark place, so that the roots may be formed before being brought into the light. When the terrarium or Wardian case is brought into the room they will require daily ventilation. The Lily of the Valley can also be grown finely in a terrarium or Wardian case.