A terrarium is a mini ecosystem confined in a glass jar, and in which plants such as succulents or mosses can grow. Mosses do not grow into large plants because they are nonvascular, or unable to retain water, making them great for terrariums. Moss is a simple plant as it doesn’t have flowers or roots. You will find hair like strands that anchor them into place and they make a great ground cover for terrariums. Moss relies on raindrops or dewdrops of water to grow. Making a terrarium for nature study is a great way to teach your kids about moss and ecosystems.
How to find Moss for making a terrarium:
Start somewhere damp and shady to hunt for moss. Don’t forget to take your magnifying glass along as your looking for these tiny plants. Observe with your child how mosses are many individual plants that make a carpet for the soil to retain moisture. Before transplanting your moss take a moment and observe its color and how does it smell? Run your fingers through it and look at it through your magnifying glass. You might want to take a small pocket knife to cut the moss.
How to choose a container for your terrarium:
You can use glass, plastic, or plexiglass for your container as long as its waterproof and light can pass through. I highly recommend a glass container! I’ve recycled many glass containers for terrariums, but if your running low your local Goodwill is always a good option! Need help getting those stubborn stickers off glass? Just take a drop of Lemon EO and it will rub right off! I like to use cacti and succulents in mine so I want a big open top container to keep the inside dry.
How to Make your terrarium:
Start by cleaning your container as we don’t want any bacteria to grow inside our mini ecosystem. The bottom of your container will not have a hole for drainage so we want to make sure that we have adequate drainage in our container or you will get rotting and an odor.
- Start by adding a generous amount of pebbles or rocks to the bottom of the container for drainage. If you are creating a closed terrarium you want to add some activated charcoal to prevent any soil from souring.
Soil in the terrarium:
- Add the soil on top of the rocks or the pebbles. You will need enough soil to cover the roots of the plants that you have chosen for your terrarium.
Plants in the terrarium:
- Next, you want to add your plants that need buried. I chose a Flaming katy succulent as it’s known for its colorful flower heads produced in autumn and winter. It is commonly gifted during holidays, earning it another name, Christmas kalanchoe. I also chose a small pink cacti to add to my soil. I then added my delicate fern moss that I gathered at a local park. This moss makes a great ground cover in a terrarium. You can always purchase your moss if your looking to add more variety or colors.
Adding Whimsical Decorations to the Terrarium:
- My children love to add some whimsical decorations to their terrarium. We’ve added mini mushrooms, animals, and even fairies.
Maintaining your open Terrarium:
- Once your ecosystem is created you want to keep your terrarium close to the window or a light source and always at room temperature. You want to water it once a week in the winter and a few times a week in the summer months. Make sure to keep a close eye on your moss! If your moss is a vibrant green color it’s likely getting enough water, but if it’s turning lighter it needs to be watered. You also want to keep observing the bottom of your container and watch for water sitting in the bottom. You don’t want any excess water or your plants will die.