Ever wondered what it is like to create your self-sufficient ecosystem? A terrarium is something to be excited about when it comes to this topic. Although the thought of nature seems simple, a terrarium is a complex structure. To balance of soil, water cycle, sunlight, and microorganism that mimic the laws of nature. In this article, we will talk about how to make a large terrarium. To be able to care for an artificial ecosystem and to further our understanding of how nature works.
The terrarium can also be a stepping stone to a vivarium, which is a plant and animal ecosystem. We will focus on how to make a large terrarium, which is a self-contained plant ecosystem only. Terrariums are easy to make, require almost no maintenance, and they look gorgeous, perfect for home decor. Let’s get started.
The Environment Of Your Terrarium
Like nature, the terrarium can have several environments. But these environments are also limited to seasons. A terrarium cannot be a snowy or rainy environment since these require weather manipulation, which is impossible to do. You can choose between rainforest and woodland habitats.
- Rainforest - The rainforest environment comes with tropical plants. Examples of these are ferns, moss, bromeliads. They also contain miniature palms like a Venus flytrap. These type of terrarium environments require bright, indirect light and warm temperatures. Temperatures usually range from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Woodlands - The woodland environment comes with woodland plants. Ferns like moss, violets, wild strawberries, gingers, and wintergreen. This type of environment thrives in low to medium, indirect light, and cold temperature. Temperatures usually range from 40 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since this is article centers on knowing how to make a large terrarium, we would want to get a large container. When choosing your container, remember that the plants will stay at the bottom. So don’t select a box that will give you a hard time doing this. There are two terrarium types, closed and open. Let’s discuss each one briefly.
- Closed Terrarium
A closed terrarium is also known as the “TRUE” terrarium. Having a closed terrarium means that it is self-sustaining and does not require watering the plants and life inside it. A closed terrarium usually comes with a lid or an opening that you can fully close up. Glass is also the preferred material to use for a closed terrarium.
- Open Terrarium
An open terrarium is one that requires watering, although this type of terrarium can sustain itself to some degree without watering. An open terrarium has to have bigger sides that the plants it carries so it can retain moisture properly. Open terrariums are an entry-level to a vivarium where a self-sufficient ecosystem is paired with an animal, usually a reptile.
It is essential to take into consideration, especially when you have an open terrarium, to buy short versions of plants. But even small plants will eventually grow taller over time. Just make sure your containers are large enough or tall enough to contain or carry the plants you choose, especially when they mature.
It is essential to know the materials to use to understand how to make a large terrarium successfully. These materials are not at all expensive and are also readily available in your hardware shops or online. These are commonly used materials in the terrarium, but you will always have the freedom to choose what materials you prefer or want for your terrarium.
- Large Glass Container
Choose a container that is appropriate for the plants you grow inside it. Having a container that is taller than the plants by a notable amount is crucial to retain moisture properly. So best to choose a container that is tall and wide.
Pebbles can spread throughout your terrarium. It is also practical to cover your terrarium about 1/2 inches inside with pebbles. Pebbles are readily available at your hardware store, local art store, and even pet shops. Pebbles also work to drain excess water and are great for moisture build-up.
- Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is vital for the terrarium because it can absorb chemicals and odors. Activated charcoal is also great for filtering the air and water. Having your terrarium filled with about 1/2 inch of activated charcoal is recommended. Activated charcoal is available in your local pet shops as well as online pet stores. When purchasing activated charcoal, make sure you go for the lumped ones, rather than the powdered form.
The soil is significant for a terrarium, especially a large one. Choose soil that is rich and high in organic matter. Also, make sure the soil is sterile. Soil should cover a minimum of 2 inches inside the container. Avoid purchasing soil that has added fertilizer or if its say miracle-grow on its description.
Quick Tip: If you are not sure about the richness of your soil, you can add an equal part of peat moss to it. You can also mix some vermiculite into the soil to help retain moisture.
- Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss is a type of moss that helps your terrarium retain moisture. These are available at your local gardening supplier, pet shop, and even online. They come in long strands that you can put in between the charcoal and soil, which will act as a barrier. It does not need to be thick, but thick enough so that the soil on top will not leak down.
The sky is the limit when choosing your plants. The secret on how to make a large terrarium is to buy dwarf varieties of plants. Dwarf plants will retain their small size in your containers and provide a miniature ecosystem. Dwarf plants are preferable to use in terrariums, rather than having the same regular plants you see in nature.
Choose your plants wisely and do some research. There are a lot of plants that grow well in the terrarium, and some plants just don’t do as good. You can go online or talk to experienced gardeners to help you with this plant searching journey.
Knowing the basics of how to make a large terrarium is fun. An artificial ecosystem allows us to understand the basic principles of nature around us. Having a terrarium is also an excellent stepping stone to having a vivarium, where an animal co-exists with the ecosystem.
I hope this article has shed some light on your aquarium building knowledge. Just remember to take your time when making a large terrarium. Also, don’t be hesitant about making changes, especially if you choose to have a closed terrarium. Always remember to enjoy the process and keep on learning. Get more tips on terrariums.