How To Create a Closed Native Terrarium for Free
Terrariums are great fun to create; join me as I create a closed native terrarium in a sealed jar with moss, hardscape, and plants found around a local UK woodland. Terrariums are enclosed ecosystems that can be self-sustaining, making a perfect addition to your windowsill as they are great for relaxation, giving you a little chunk of nature to create and enjoy.
I was inspired to create this terrarium by SerpaDesign, who creates great tutorials and terrarium videos along with helpful tips on building terrariums and a variety of other topics. Watch him here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SerpaDesign
A terrarium is an enclosed ecosystem which can be entirely self-sustaining. Once set up and watered, you will never need to open it again since it will regulate its own water and nutrient cycles.
Before we begin, you will need an airtight container. Some good examples include glass jars with clip tops, screw on lids or corks but for my example I’ll be using a large jar with a lid which screws tightly on top, allowing it to retain the moisture in the air.
Other equipment you will need includes porous mesh which allows water through but not substrate, some rocks or gravel, some activated carbon for fish tank filters or charcoal, and a selection of small to medium sized local plants and mosses.
The first step is to place about an inch of stones or gravel in the base of your container. Next, sprinkle on a coating of activated carbon sticks or charcoal to help with filtration.
The next step is to cut out the shape of the base of your container from the porous mesh. It needs to cover the gravel layer entirely so it’s best to cut it slightly larger than the shape itself. Once this is in place over the gravel, you can add the soil. The purpose of this gravel layer is to separate the standing water from the soil to avoid roots rotting. The water will collect here as a water reservoir then will evaporate, condensate on the walls of your glass container and then fall back down into the substrate, effectively replicating the natural water cycle. This will ensure that the terrarium will naturally water itself.
Moving onto the soil, a good soil mix should retain moisture well and be a mix of dead leaves, moss and compost. The soil layer should be deeper than your gravel layer to allow root space.
Next, let’s add some plants to the terrarium. I will be making this a native terrarium so will be using plants from nearby parks and gardens. You could use tropical plants for yours instead. Place your choice of plants in the terrarium, paying close attention to your arrangement and how you would like it to look aesthetically. Think about putting larger plants in the background and smaller ones in the foreground. Moss is excellent for ground covering as it will eventually spread and make your terrarium look lush and wild. I’ve used a few different varieties of temperate moss inline and positioned them in-between the main plants. When choosing plants, pick some with a variety of leaf types and shades of green. Also, if you come across any worms or woodlice, set them aside for later as worms will help add nutrients to the soil and woodlice will decompose any dead matter which will help to break down nutrients. These nutrients will be absorbed by the plants through their roots via osmosis.
You can also add pieces of bark or wood for landscaping.
The final step is to water your terrarium by misting. Spray a very generous amount of water over the plants and moss to help them settle and to provide the ecosystem with water which will be continuously cycled throughout the terrarium.
And there we have it, the perfect addition to your windowsill. You now have your very own tiny ecosystem in a jar. Observe how the plant life changes and spreads over time.You may notice that some die but this is normal. Other plants will grow in its place and seeds will spread.
0:36 What is a Terrarium?
1:19 What You’ll Need
2:46 Step 1: Terrarium False Bottom
3:53 Step 2: Sediment Layer
4:35 Step 3: Terrarium Plants and Hardscape
7:32 Step 4: Adding Water
8:00 Step 5: Adding Woodlice
8:21 Step 6: Sealing the Terrarium
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