Terrarium – Building

Q: I would like to put together a simple terrarium with my grandchildren. Where can I get information on this?

A: Terrariums have quite an interesting history. The original miniature glass house was invented by Nathaniel Ward in 1830 after he noticed that a fern could grow in a sealed jar containing a bit of soil and moisture. He built much larger containers for plant explorers, who found that they could transport living specimens around the world when sealed inside so-called Wardian cases. In garden vernacular, a Wardian case is usually straight-sided and has a hinged lid. Terrariums are any glass container in which plants are grown.

That said, you can make a terrarium from any large-mouthed glass jar or vase or cookie jar you have around the house. I recently made a terrarium from a two gallon glass canister with glass lid which I bought from The Container Store (they have a wide variety of glass containers). I put a half inch of charcoal on the bottom of the jar and covered it with two inches of damp potting soil. Small houseplants can be found at any any nursery; I sometimes found it best to divide the plants in a pot to get a couple of smaller specimens. I used colored stones, Spanish moss and driftwood to decorate around the plants.

This is truly a project where you can let imaginations go wild!

Build a Terrarium

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