Terrariums Giving Pleasure Effects to Eyes
A Terrarium is an arrangement of plants together in one container, often with other things like rocks, stones or miniature figures and items. Sometimes the goal of a terrarium is just to create a pleasing arrangement of plants and other times the goal is to create a miniature world. Terrarium planting is a specialized part of home gardening, but an interesting one. A great many woodland plants which prosper in their natural environments fail to grow at all in the house due to the lack of moisture in the air. Terrariums provide this humid atmosphere and allow you to bring the forest plants home. The theory behind the terrarium is that in a closed container the moisture which the plants take up through their roots and transpire through their leaves is condensed and eventually returns to the soil again, keeping the plants watered and at the same time keeping the air within the container at a point below saturation.
Materials Required: It doesn’t take much to set up a terrarium: fine gravel or coarse sand, charcoal chips, synthetic fabric (nylon) or screen to act as a soil separator, and potting mix appropriate to the plants used. If you wish to add a decorative touch, you can cover the soil with coloured stone, bark chips or ground cover plants.
Containers to use: The originality of a terrarium depends on the type of container you use, the plants you choose and the way you arrange them. Any glass container can serve as a terrarium, provided that it is transparent. You can recycle a large glass jar, a fish bowl or an old aquarium. Alternatively, there are some very attractive containers made of wood and glass or plastic available on the market. Terrariums do not require drain holes so, unlike other planting containers, holes are not necessary at the bottom of the container. If you are thinking of starting your own terrarium you will probably find that you have all the material and equipment you need around the house. Fish tanks, especially those that are not too big and unwieldy, make very good terrariums. All you need for them is a glass top. If you are going to start from scratch, you can build your own container using a flat, low sided box for the bottom, and fitting it with glass sides which can be taped together, and a glass top. Although the theoretical airtight terrarium would have no openings whatever, it is safer to provide the container with several drainage holes so that you avoid the risk of over watering and rotting the roots of your plants. If you use a large brandy glass or some other container for which drainage holes cannot be provided, then you must be extra careful that there is a good layer of drainage material (pebbles, gravel, crocking, etc.) at the bottom, and that the soil is sprinkled with charcoal.
Soil mixes/ additives: Use clean, sterilized peat moss based soilless mix with vermiculite or perlite to enable the soil to hold moisture and oxygen. There should be an initial layer of gravel for drainage (one part gravel to two parts soilless mix). Add charcoal to absorb odour (one tablespoon per cup of drainage). In a small terrarium, omit the gravel and use charcoal. Soil separator can be used to keep the layer of charcoal apart from the soilless mix. Use fibre glass drapery fabric, nylon tights, sheer drapery, screening (not metal) or landscape fabric. Use sand in a desert terrarium. Sand should be bagged, washed and free of salts. Leaf mold can be used for woodland soil mixes but should be sterilized. Limestone can be used, especially for desert terrariums. Bone meal can be used in desert terrariums; do not use fertilizer in the initial planting.
Watering, ventilation and sun: When your plants are all in position, the soil should be well watered. If you can do this in the kitchen sink or in the bathtub where you can give it a thorough wetting and then allow the excess to drain out, so much the better. The frequency with which terrariums must be watered after they have been started depends on how much ventilation they are given. Although opinions vary, it has been our experience that the plants will prosper if they are kept covered during the day and the top is partially slid off at night. If this system is followed, we think you will find that your terrarium garden will need watering only once every few months. Terrarium plants need sunlight, but in limited amounts. An east or west window will do the trick, or a south facing location, if there is a glass curtain between the window and the container.
Plants to grow: In addition to lichens and mosses, a good many plants which grow in the open air of your living room will prosper as well in miniature form in the terrarium.
Low light plants: Swedish ivy (Plectranthes australis), Bird Nest Sansevieria (Sansevieria trifasciata), Maidenhead spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)
Moderate light plants: Heart leaved philodendron (Philodendron scandens), Irish moss (Selaginella sp), Maidenhair fern (Adiantum cuneatum), Miniature peperomia (Pilea depressa), Tahitian Bridal Veil (Gibasis geniculata), Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), Nerve plant (Fittonia sp), Podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophylla), Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), etc.
Bright light plants: Elephant bush (Portulacaria afra), Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa), Oxalis (Oxalis sp.), Asparagus fern (Asparagus plumosus), Bloodleaf iresine (Iresine herbstii), Sundew (Drosera spp.), Plush plant (Echeveria pulvinata), etc.