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How to Look After a Terrarium

Aug 8, 2008
Terrariums, or Bottle-Gardens, are an amazing, relatively low maintenance, living decoration - a miniature world. Terrariums need the essential requirements of soil and water for the survival of plants that are housed in it, but with occasional care and maintenance. Apart from these essential requirements, the bottle garden has a reservoir of water which keeps readily available moisture to the plant and also enables a humid environment in the bottle. A self-contained garden, if you will.

Selection of plants.

Selection of plants for the bottle garden is very important and in quite a few cases, people fail to appreciate this fact, trying to incorporate any plant they can lay hands on! An ideal bottle plant is of slow growth and dwarf habit. Because of the confined space, the plants selected must be slow growing and dwarfish variety, so that smothering can be avoided. Ferns are perfect for this kind of gardening.

Where to put it.

Extremes of temperatures should be avoided, therefore, the terrarium should be placed where there is adequate sunlight, but not direct sunlight - less the plants boil in the container.Right next to the fireplace, will have a similar effect. So, somewhere with reflected light is perfect.


The soil or compost , used in bottle gardens needs to be just adequate for plant survival and should not have a lot of fertiliser, as this would induce far too much growth - overcrowding can be fatal.


Containers shaped like a normal bottle, with narrow neck are the most effective for bottle gardens as this helps to maintain the humidity and also for the appearance when the garden gets established.

How to go about it.

Firstly, clean the container thoroughly by using water and a weak detergent. Avoid using rich compost, as the plants are chosen for slow growth and dwarf habit. The compost, should be moistened but not wet, when you squeeze a handful of compost, you do not want water running out of it - it should just loosely make a ball. Using a paper funnel, to prevent
material from spilling on the sides of the bottle and sticking to the wet surface, place a layer of crushed charcoal or small sized gravel, first. This will be beneficial as it will act as water reservoir and replenish the compost or soil with water as and when needed. A small amount of water can be added by the aid of a straw fitted with a cooking funnel or running the water carefully down the inside surface of the bottle.

How to Plant.

When planting in bottle gardens, it is best if the plants have previously grown in small pots, so that they have a compact ball of roots, although not necessary. Using a rod , or thin stick, make holes in the compost layer and the plants are dropped in to these holes, after carefully pressing through the bottle neck. Then use the rod to firm down the plants. If you like, place a piece of drift-wood, or a small figurine in the bottle to give that little extra appeal. After planting, the bottle neck is plugged with a cork, a glass stopper, or something similar. Each day or so, rotate the garden a quarter turn, otherwise, the plants will keep growing in the same direction, giving a lop-sided and unnatural look.

Varieties of Plants.

Pilea, Selaginella, Peperomoia, Maranta and many types of Ferns, lend themselves well to this kind of gardening. Mainly, try to stick to plants that grow slow and have a dwarf habit. Should you find that you just don't have the time for such things, Terrariums can be bought, fully finished, then it is just a matter of looking after it. As described previously.

I hope this article has helped you to know how to look after a terrarium.
About the Author
Mr Meagher has been a Netpreneur for 5 years. Producing diverse articles from Agriculture to Weddings. further reading to be found at: How to Make a Garden Compost and Gardening is Too Hard?
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