This isn’t just a terrarium. No. It’s a problem solver. What problem does it solve, you ask. It’s the only way I can seem to keep this dang maidenhair fern alive. You see, these plants are pretty picky. They need high consistent humidity, bright light but not direct sun, and rich soil, which they rapidly deplete. I used to grow this particular plant in regular glazed pot and it almost died (I thought it was dead but it came back) because it was too close to the breeze that comes out of the heating/cooling vent. Yeah. That’s picky. The terrarium keeps a consistent 70% humidity; I know this because I keep a hygrometer in it. The scientist in me needs to know.
The terrarium solves another problem too: What to do with a vase with a crack in the bottom. This recycled glass vase used to be my fish bowl. One day, I was sitting near the fish bowl and hear “tink!” sound. I didn’t think anything of it. The fish often moved rocks around so I figured it was him. Then it happened again, louder, and water started pouring on the floor. Ugh. Had to save the fish really quickly, then figure out how to get 1 1/2 gallons of water out of the carpet. I still don’t really know how the crack happened, but it’s about 3 inches long on the corner between the side and the bottom. The white line on the bottom of the terrarium is the silicone I used to patch it.
So how is this thing put together? Here’s what I did:
- You need: a vase or big jar, gravel, sand, potting soil, a plant that likes humidity, decorations like rocks or a ceramic horse.
- Lay down about an inch of gravel, then an inch of sand. This will help with drainage and provide a reservoir for water to keep the humidity constant.
- Add a few inches of potting soil, placing your plant in the soil where you want it. If the container is big enough, you might be able to fit a couple of plants.
- Arrange your ornaments or rocks. Don’t use anything that can rot. I tried having some fat sticks in mine that looked like little logs and they molded. Not pretty. Stick to things that won’t grow mold.
- Water, but not too much. It needs to be moist, but you don’t want a bunch of water to accumulate in the gravel. Mine is usually just wet enough to see that the gravel is damp, but no real standing water.
How do I know that this is working? Well, the fern makes new fronds every time I give it some new potting soil and I can see that some of its roots have grown down through the soil to the bottom of the container where it can always have water, like it would in the riparian areas it naturally grows in.
Are there any problems? Aside from the mold issue with the sticks, I’ve grown some mushrooms accidentally, but they didn’t cause any problems. Because the container is glass though, there are some fronds developing under the soil heading for the glass (picture below). I covered it with black paper hoping they’ll head up instead of out, but I guess I have to wait and see what happens. It’s an experiment, after all.