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Ultimate Guide to Closed Terrariums: DIY Tips, Plant Selection, and Maintenance for Green Enthusiasts
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Ultimate Guide to Closed Terrariums: DIY Tips, Plant Selection, and Maintenance for Green Enthusiasts

Over the years, closed terrariums have increased in popularity, offering a captivating world where miniature ecosystems flourish within the enclosed embrace of glass walls. What is it about these tiny green havens that has captured the attention of plant enthusiasts, and how can you join in on the trend? In this guide, we'll delve into the wonders of closed terrariums, exploring what they are, why they're a fantastic choice for plant enthusiasts, how to build them, the best plants to choose, care tips, creative customization ideas, and crucial considerations to ensure success.

What is a Closed Terrarium?

A closed terrarium is a self-contained ecosystem enclosed within a transparent container, typically made of glass. This miniature world mimics the natural water cycle, creating a closed environment where moisture is recycled. The container is sealed, creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance.

How to Build a Closed Terrarium?

Materials:
  • Glass terrarium container
  • Small stones or pebbles
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil
  • Various plants suitable for terrariums
  • Moss or small ground cover plants
  • Decorative elements (optional)

Steps:

  1. Choose the Right Container: Select a glass terrarium container based on your preference and available space. Consider factors like size, shape, and accessibility for planting.
  2. Create a Drainage Layer: Add a layer of small stones or pebbles to the bottom of the container to facilitate drainage. This prevents waterlogging and root rot.
  3. Add Activated Charcoal: Sprinkle a thin layer of activated charcoal over the drainage layer. This helps in filtering the air and preventing odors within the closed environment.
  4. Layer with Potting Soil: Add a layer of well-draining potting soil on top of the charcoal. The depth of the soil layer will depend on the size of your container and the types of plants you plan to include.
  5. Select and Place Plants: Choose a variety of plants suitable for closed terrariums, such as ferns, small succulents, or moss. Consider the light and moisture requirements of each plant. Arrange them strategically, keeping in mind their growth habits.
  6. Incorporate Moss or Ground Cover: Add a layer of moss or small ground cover plants to create a lush, carpet-like effect. This not only adds visual appeal but also helps in moisture retention.
  7. Decorate: Let your creativity flow by adding decorative elements such as miniature figurines, small stones, or tiny pieces of driftwood. These additions can enhance the overall aesthetic of your closed terrarium.
  8. Water Sparingly: After planting, water the terrarium sparingly. Remember, the closed environment reduces the need for frequent watering. Monitor the moisture levels and adjust accordingly.
  9. Seal the Terrarium: Once you're satisfied with the arrangement, carefully seal the terrarium. The goal is to create a closed environment that will sustain itself. Keep in mind that some air circulation is essential, so don't seal it completely airtight.
Best Plants for Closed Terrariums
  1. Ferns (Various Species): Ferns, such as maidenhair ferns or button ferns, are excellent choices for closed terrariums. They enjoy the high humidity and low light conditions.
  2. Fittonia (Nerve Plant): Nerve plants have vibrant, veined leaves and thrive in the humid environment of closed terrariums. They come in various colors, adding visual interest.
  3. Moss (Various Species): Moss is an essential component for closed terrariums, providing a lush green carpet. Different types of moss, like sheet moss or cushion moss, can be used.
  4. Peperomia (Various Species): Peperomias, like the Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia), are compact plants with interesting foliage patterns. They tolerate the humid conditions of closed terrariums well.
  5. Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya): Known for its colorful foliage, the polka dot plant adds a splash of pink, white, or red to your terrarium. It prefers indirect light and high humidity.
  6. Pilea (Pilea spp.): Pilea, also known as the Chinese Money Plant, has attractive round leaves and is well-suited for the controlled environment of a closed terrarium.
  7. Selaginella (Various Species): Selaginellas, or spike mosses, are ancient plants that add a unique texture to your terrarium. They appreciate the humidity and lower light levels.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Closed Terrarium
  1. Monitor Moisture Levels: Keep an eye on condensation inside the terrarium. If it becomes too humid, slightly open the lid to allow excess moisture to escape.
  2. Provide Adequate Light: While closed terrariums can tolerate lower light levels, ensure they receive some indirect sunlight. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as it can create excessive heat.
  3. Trim and Prune: Regularly trim overgrown plants to maintain a balanced and visually appealing terrarium. Remove any yellowing or decaying leaves promptly.
  4. Avoid Overwatering: Closed terrariums are designed to retain moisture, so be cautious not to overwater. Only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Creative Ideas for Customizing Closed Terrariums
  1. Themed Terrariums: Create a theme for your terrarium, such as a tropical rainforest or a desert landscape. Choose plants and decorations that align with your chosen theme.
  2. Layered Landscapes: Experiment with different levels of soil to create a terrarium with varied elevations. This adds depth and visual interest.
  3. Fairy Garden Terrarium: Add whimsy by incorporating miniature fairy garden accessories like tiny houses, fairies, or miniature furniture.
  4. Seasonal Changes: Switch out plants and decorations seasonally to keep your terrarium fresh and interesting. Consider adding seasonal elements like miniature pumpkins for fall or tiny snowmen for winter.
What to Consider When Building a Closed Terrarium or Common Mistakes to Avoid
  1. Ferns (Various Species): Ferns, such as maidenhair ferns or button ferns, are excellent choices for closed terrariums. They enjoy the high humidity and low light conditions.
  2. Fittonia (Nerve Plant): Nerve plants have vibrant, veined leaves and thrive in the humid environment of closed terrariums. They come in various colors, adding visual interest.
  3. Moss (Various Species): Moss is an essential component for closed terrariums, providing a lush green carpet. Different types of moss, like sheet moss or cushion moss, can be used.
  4. Peperomia (Various Species): Peperomias, like the Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia), are compact plants with interesting foliage patterns. They tolerate the humid conditions of closed terrariums well.
  5. Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya): Known for its colorful foliage, the polka dot plant adds a splash of pink, white, or red to your terrarium. It prefers indirect light and high humidity.
  6. Pilea (Pilea spp.): Pilea, also known as the Chinese Money Plant, has attractive round leaves and is well-suited for the controlled environment of a closed terrarium.
  7. Selaginella (Various Species): Selaginellas, or spike mosses, are ancient plants that add a unique texture to your terrarium. They appreciate the humidity and lower light levels.

Closed terrariums offer a captivating and low-maintenance way to bring the beauty of nature into your home. Whether you're a seasoned plant enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of terrariums, the journey of building and caring for your closed terrarium is a rewarding and creative endeavor. So, gather your terrarium kit, select the perfect glass terrarium, and embark on a botanical adventure that will bring a touch of nature to your living space.

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