Guide in making your own mini-ecosystem by staging a terrarium

By Ellaine Kryss Hubilla

Plants are appealing, whether they are staged or not. This is probably because of the green pigment found in plants called chlorophyll, which is responsible for photosynthesis.

According to the science of color, green is the most restful color to the human eye. It provides relaxation and calmness. This is probably one of the reasons why looking at plants can greatly affect one’s emotional state. However, some people still prefer to stage their plants to make them even more beautiful. ‘Staging’ means using human creativity to strategically position plants in an aesthetically pleasing way, such as in a landscaped garden or terrarium.

Some of the examples of staging include the dish garden, a garden of plants growing in a shallow dish and miniatures, wherein you decorate plants that grow much in smaller sizes than the usual such as bonsais. Others prefer to arrange their plants in an elevated rack according to color, kind, sizes, and more. Plant staging is basically how the owner wants their plants to look, making them more appealing to the eye without following specific criteria when it comes to arranging them.

Another plant staging technique is the terrarium, a collection of small plants growing in a transparent container. There are two types of terrariums: an open terrarium where the container has an opening that shouldn’t be closed, and a closed one which is the opposite of the other as it demonstrates how an ecosystem works. Natural processes like photosynthesis, respiration, and water cycle may be observed in this kind of plant staging.

This article will focus on how to create your own terrarium that you and your visitors will love.

Glass Container
– If you want to make a close-terrarium, get a container with lid or cover and a container
with an opening for the other one, usually like a fishbowl.
Activated Charcoal (Optional)
Filter (coffee filter or mesh wire)
Soil Mix (use the right soil mix for your chosen plants)
Desired Plants
Decorative objects
Toppings (shells, pebbles, gems, etc.)

1. Add pebbles about 1/2 inch-high to the bottom of the glass container.
2. If you have activated charcoal, add a few pinches of charcoal on top of the pebbles. Activated charcoal prevents fungal and bacterial infection in plants. It also helps absorb excess moisture in the water.
3. Place a thin layer of moss over the charcoal to prevent the soil from setting.
4. Put the filter or mesh wire on top of the moss. This will divide the bottom part of the terrarium from the upper part. It also prevents soil to mix with the pebbles and charcoal.
5. Fill the glass halfway with the proper soil mix. The soil mix will depend on the kind of plants you want to grow in your terrarium.
6. Make small holes for the roots and carefully position your plants in your desired areas inside the container.
7. Once the plants are stable, add the toppings to add decor and to cover the soil and prevent it from spilling when you water the plants.
8. Also, add decorative objects you prefer to give your terrarium a theme.
9. Lightly mist the plant, soil, and the sides of the jar with at least 10 sprays. If it’s a closed terrarium, just close the lid tightly after spraying. If it’s an open one, spray as needed.

Caring for a terrarium

A closed terrarium doesn’t require direct sunlight because it can be so hot inside that the plants may burn. It is better to place it in a bright area with indirect sunlight.

Just like the closed terrarium, an open one must also be placed in a bright area without direct sunlight because too much light exposure may still lead to sunburn, even if the container is well aerated.

Due to the water cycle in a closed space, a closed terrarium can last for days or weeks without regular watering. As the inside of the container heats up, water will be pulled off from rocks and soil going to the top of the container where it will form a mist that will drip back down, which serves as water for the plants.

Mist and fog inside the container is a good indication that your plants are receiving water. However, if the terrarium is constantly wet and you cannot see your plants anymore, it is better to open the lid to temporarily dry it; allowing more air to enter the container.

When it comes to an open terrarium, watering should be only in a small amount while still considering how much water your plant needs. You can use a syringe, small dropper, or misting spray.

Both enclosed and open terrarium plants are slow-growing because of their confinement in a container, but with proper care, plants can still thrive and grow. If plants outgrow this environment, they must be replaced.

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Ellaine Kryss Hubilla
Ellaine Kryss Hubilla is a content producer for Agriculture magazine. She finished her Bachelor of Arts degree Major in Communication at Adamson University. She spends her free time playing video games with friends. She also loves to travel and go on adventures.

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