Gathering the Essential Supplies for Your Closed Terrarium Project

Gathering the Essential Supplies for Your Closed Terrarium Project

When embarking on a terrarium project, it is crucial to gather all the necessary supplies to ensure a successful and visually appealing result. From the right container to the essential tools, each component plays a vital role in creating a thriving miniature ecosystem. In my future blogs I will go into more detail about each element and it's benefits. 

Selecting the Right Glass Container

First and foremost, selecting an appropriate glass container is key. Opt for one that allows ample space for your plants to grow while providing sufficient light. A clear glass container also allows for better visibility for you to enjoy all the elements in your mini garden.

Separation Layer

The role of this layer is to drain and store the excess water in the container as there are no drainage holes. Any excess water will sit safely below the soil and plant roots. An added benefit of this is that the moisture in this layer will add to the humidity within your terrarium. For this layer I use Leca clay balls, however you can use small pebbles, scoria or stones.  

Separation Layer

This is not essential but I include it in every build as it prevents the substrate from falling into the drainage layer, which can block excess water from draining out of the substrate and instead remain around the plants roots causing root rot. I use a weed mat fabric and cut to the size of the terrarium base.  

Sphagnum Moss

The sphagnum moss works as a sponge and stores up the excess water draining through the plants, moss and soil above. When the soil dries out it will drink this water back up. This can be used instead of the mesh separation layer, but I don't find it as effective at preventing the substrate falling into the drainage layer. So, I always use both the mesh and the Sphagnum Moss, as substrate in the drainage layer can also look unsightly.

Activated Charcoal

Charcoal is essential in a terrarium as it benefits the plants in a number of ways; The anti-toxin properties of the charcoal will help to keep mould and mildew at bay. The cleansing properties of activated charcoal will filter the water circulating around the terrarium and and remove toxins, impurities and bacteria from the soil and water.  

Choosing a Suitable Substrate

Next, and the most important element of all... the right substrate, which believe it or not, for a closed terrarium, is 'soil-less'. It is essential to choose a well-draining substrate specifically formulated for terrariums. This will help maintain proper moisture levels and prevent root rot. 

There are many differing opinions for the perfect substrate, but after trial and error, I have my favourite, homemade terrarium mix which includes coir, propagating sand, aquatic sand, pumice and worm castings.  

Choosing suitable plants for your terrarium

Choosing suitable plants for your terrarium is equally important. Opt for species that thrive in humid environments with low light conditions. Some popular choices include ferns, mosses, and Fittonias (nerve plants). My next blog will be specifically on the ideal terrarium plants. Ensure you select varieties that are compatible in terms of water, humidity and lighting requirements.  

Decorative Elements

In addition to plants, incorporating decorative elements can enhance the visual appeal of your terrarium. Consider adding small figurines or natural elements like rocks, pebbles, sand or driftwood to create depth and interest within your miniature landscape. But be sure to thoroughly clean any rocks, shells or driftwood before adding to your terrarium. 

Essential Tools

Lastly, don't forget about the essential tools that will make your build so much easier. I could not get by without all of these main essentials.

  • Long-handled tweezers for planting and arranging elements within the terrarium. 
  • Telescopic tools for reaching into tall vessels. A rake for leveling soil and moving soil and a spade for planting or removing plants.
  • Funnel for adding elements gently, like soil, charcoal and pebbles.
  • Brush to clean debri from the glass.
  • Terrarium Scissors
  • A spoon to add small pebbles or a tiny amount of soil where needed.
  • Small tubing to connect to a funnel to add pebbles to a particular area without them going everywhere.
  • A Cork Dabber to flatten the soil and to press the soil firmly around plants. (included in DIY Kits). A bamboo skewer into a cork is all you need.

By gathering these essential supplies - including an appropriate glass container, suitable substrate mix, carefully selected plants, decorative elements, and necessary tools - you will be well-prepared to embark on an enjoyable and successful terrarium project.

Yes, there's a lot to get right to avoid disappointment. That's why I recommend starting out with one of my DIY Kits which includes detailed step-by-step instructions and everything you need to go with it; eg. vessel and plants, are  available on my website

Watch out for my next article on 'Choosing the Right Plants for your Terrarium'.

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