Terrariums

Topics: Soil, Water, Plant Pages: 9 (2634 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Submitted By:
Abhay Kumar Gaurav

Terrariums
A terrarium is a collection of small plants growing in a transparent, sealed container. A terrarium is a closed environment, and can actually be used to illustrate how an ecosystem works. Inside a terrarium’s walls, many different natural processes may be observed: photosynthesis, respiration, and the water cycle. The water in the terrarium is constantly recycled, passing from liquid form to gas and back again. As the moisture in the air condenses on the glass walls, it returns to the soil and is absorbed by the plants’ roots. History:

Terrariums are microenvironments under glass. Terrariums were popularized in the 19th century when a London surgeon, Dr. Daniel Ward, accidently created a garden in a jar. After Dr. Ward published his findings the glass-contained planters became known as Wardian cases. The development of Wardian cases opened up intercontinental plant trade. Indian teas, Chinese bananas and Brazilian rubber trees were introduced in compatible climates around the world. Exotic, tropical plants became available in Europe and America. Dr. Ward’s efforts provided a global selection of plant material for the indoor gardener, and an effective method for maintaining delicate plant species. Today, terrariums are used mostly by hobbyists who plant commercially propagated materials. Containers:

A good way to recycle glass containers is to create a terrarium. Almost any type of clear glass container can be used for a terrarium, as long as it holds moisture and transmits light. Possible candidates include canning jars, fish bowls, juice pitchers, chemist flasks, light fixtures, curio cabinets, and wine bottles. Special tools are required for planting bottle terrariums. Colored glass is inappropriate as it reduces light intensity and transmits its own color while absorbing other colors in the light spectrum. Red tinted glass will block blue light, and increase light in the red spectrum, causing plants to become leggy. Green glass should also be avoided because it blocks red and blue light, both necessary for healthy plant growth. High quality plastics, such as Lucite or Plexiglas, are also suitable for terrarium containers. Plastics are generally cheaper and lighter in weight than glass; weight may be a determining factor for a hanging terrarium. The main drawback of plastic terrariums is that the material scratches easily and may be etched by the soil. Also, condensation tends to remain on the sides of plastic tanks longer than it does on glass. Aquarium tanks make excellent terrariums. The tanks are available in several sizes, and their shape allows easy access for landscaping and maintenance. The tanks can be sealed or ventilated, and they can be fitted with a light fixture. Supplemental, full-spectrum light is beneficial for most plants. A little extra light will help keep orchids and violets in bloom. Decorative Items for Terrarium Landscape

Select items that help create the effect you’d like the terrarium to project. All sorts of objects can enhance the appearance of a terrarium. Among them are:
* Broken bits of glazed ceramic dishes
* Bark
* small sculptures
* acorns
* small pieces of driftwood
* empty snail shells
* tiny hemlock cones,
* twigs
* miniature logs
* sea shells
* mica
* stone steps can give a terraced appearance
* unusual rocks

Soil:
Soil texture is important for terrarium plants. Terrarium soil must retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. It should be porous enough to allow good drainage and air circulation while being firm enough to hold plants in place. Properly textured soil can be created by mixing a few materials from the following list. * Standard potting soil: tends to have fine particles and consequently, a heavy texture. * Sandy potting soil: standard potting soil with 50% sand added; sold as cactus soil. * Soil-less potting mix: dark; rough-textured organic material...
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