Each one of us is always in search of a hobby that is unique to our tastes, our passion, our affinity, and our preference. Some people go into arts and craft, pet and animal-rearing, and some others opt for plant-rearing. Each hobby offers a unique experience and a unique journey that the hobbyists can relate to.
However, there is one unique hobby that I think can combine several of those in one experience. And that is the art of making—TERRARIUMS. Yes, that is correct. Because one complete terrarium set-up has the following elements: plants, microfauna, hardscape, and other items that you can add to personalise your set-up. It is safe to say that it can already include arts and crafts, animal-rearing, and definitely plant-rearing.
But what is a terrarium by the way? Terrarium actually means “an enclosed earth” that was coined from terra which means earth in Latin, and arium which was adopted from aquarium for the enclosure portion. The first terrarium was created and accidentally discovered by Dr. Nathaniel Ward when he dropped a pupa of a moth into a sealed glass jar and found that after a while, the soil base started to grow fern and grass. That’s why the first design of the glass enclosure was named after him, The Warden Glass.
By strict definition, a terrarium should be closed or else it should not be considered a terrarium by definition. However, modern set-ups accepted that an open terrarium can also be considered a type of terrarium. Personally, I can say that an open terrarium is almost similar to a dish garden with a slight difference depending on the percentage of opening the set-up has. The smaller the opening is, the closer it is to an open-terrarium. Must say that if the opening is at 50% and above or that the exposure of the set-up is almost 100% then it must be categorised as a dish garden.
What Are The Materials?
The basic and most essential materials are:
Here are some mixture suggestions for the substrate:
a. Soil-less Mixture – you can use either coco peat, coco husks, dried leaves, powdered or crushed charcoal, sand, wood shavings
b. Highly-organic Mixture – you can use loam, vermicast, organic fertiliser components in the mixture
c. Garden Soil Mixture – you can use the regular garden soil, coco peat, coco husk, crushed/powderized charcoal, sand, dried bark, etc.
d. Soil-less Organic Mixture – you can use the decomposed organic materials from the forest bed and transfer it on your enclosures
The substrate mixture is endless and you can use any material of your choosing based on what is available in your area or could also be based on your preference or as to what do you know is best for your plants and microfauna.
5. Add the Landscape. This is the fun part and the best part in creating a terrarium. This is the part where you can mix and match the plants you have chosen for your terrarium. What happened to me most of the time however is, mostly my first choice of plants always change or are being added depending on how will they actually look in the actual terrarium. But believe me, this is normal and also exciting as you get to create and recreate you design time and again in the course of completing your landscape. You can mix any plant, hardscape, and additional materials however way it fits your taste and your design.
6. Add the Microfauna. This is also the other fun part. The most recommended microfauna for the terrariums are of course the “Clean-up Crew” or your detrivores. The most basic and the most tolerable and negligible that you can almost not notice are the— Springtails. Adding the springtails completes your bioactive terrarium enclosure. These clean-up crew will be responsible in keeping your terrarium of moulds and other hitchhikers, or their colonization. The microfauna will also provide the carbon dioxide requirement of the plants inside the terrarium to complete the life cycle of your bioactive set-up. Other options for microfauna include: isopods, earthworms, other worms, centipedes, millipedes, snails, etc.
7. Once all of the materials had been added, clean up the terrarium and the sides and panels. You can use a clean cloth, paper towel, tissue paper, or cotton to wipe the excess soil, etc. and once you have cleaned up the excess materials and debris, you can go ahead and mist the terrarium. Moisture is a very significant component of your terrarium. It is important to keep it a an appropriate level. One trick to know if your level of moisture is enough, there is a condensation on the walls of the terrarium that is usually heavy during dawn and dusk. If by chance, you overwatered your terrarium, you need not fret as you can just open the cover to let the excess water evaporate.
8. For the last step— ENJOY!!! This is also the most important step. Creating terrariums is a wonderful experience that you can enjoy by yourself or you can share with the members of your family as well. Aside from the fun and relaxation experience, this is also a great bonding session for you and the people around you. Therefore it is important to take your time in creating your terrarium and savor every moment of it.
Here are additional information you may need to keep in mind in creating and maintaining your terrarium
Finally, the entirety of creating a terrarium creates a unique experience and journey. Each experience and journey is unique and different. Should your first creation or the succeeding ones not thrive, it is but normal as each component used are always unique. The more you create, the better you become so just continue creating your next terrariums. One day soon, you will find the most appropriate technique for you which you can also share later on to other aspiring terrarium artists and hobbyists out there.
I therefore wish you all the best on your first of your many more terrariums!
For more tips and guide, check out the videos on my YouTube Channel: TerraPlantae PH