I’ve always wanted a terrarium but it can be very expensive. Yesterday, I attended a workshop at Hort Park and finally learned to make one of my own. I can’t wait to make a few more out of empty glass jars lying around the house.
Terrarium was discovered by Dr Nataniel Ward in 1829 and was originally used to transport tropical orchids via sea to UK. Terrarium is a collection of compatible plants grown in an enclosed or partially enclosed clear container. It has to be clear to allow light for the plant to photosynthesize. Glass is perfect. Transparent plastics (like PC, PS or acrylic) is not advisable as they may break down over time.
Plants that are suitable for terrarium must love humidity. Thus cacti, plants with hairy leaves and flowering plants (except African Violet if it’s stored in the air-conned office)are not suitable. Best suited are ferns, nerve plants, mini pitcher plants, goosefoot plant. Fertilizer is not recommended as you do not want the plant to grow too rapidly in an enclosed space.
Before you start, ensure all materials used – including the drainage layers, glassware – are cleaned and dry. (Just by rinsing with water – no need to sterilise them! :))
Suitable plants – 2 -3 depending on size of container.
Drainage layer (eg hydrotons, marbles or charcoal (recommended as it absorbs smell and toxic gases.)) – to collect excess water
Soil or compost mix – wet it first if too dry.
Mulch (coloured pebbles for decoration)
1) Layer drainage material about 1 cm height. Level by shaking the container. The total height of drainage/soil/mulch should be about 1/3 height of the container.
2) Put in a layer of soil slightly higher than the pot of your plant.
3) Use a spoon to dig a hole at the centre. Remove plant from pot gently and insert into hole. Use the spoon to level the soil. (Do not shake the container as you do not want to mix the layers.)
4) Put in a fine layer of mulch for decoration and also as weight to prevent soil from floating during watering.
5) Spray down the glass to clean the surface and also to water the plant. There is sufficient water if you see light condensation on the cover after 15 mins. If not, add more water.
6) Cover. (Leave container open if there is too much condensation and water droplets are rolling down the side.)
You may trim the plant if you some leaves are touching the side.