We all love terrariums, they are a world on their own, a self - sustaining ecosystem. They require minimum or no maintenance.
In our practice most terrariums fail not because of under maintenance but because of over-maintenance. We will explain how?
For us living in India, and specially if you are from the Northern half of the country, the only way we know to maintain our plants is to water them daily or if the need be two times a day.
For us, assuming that over watering could actually kill a plant is an alien concept.
Second, we can't help avoid sun, its all over the place.
And finally our new way of living, a culture of high rises with mini balconies, we can't think of growing our exotic set of plants under the cool shade of a large tamarind or banyan tree.
In this scenario maintaining a Terrarium in your home and office should have been the easiest way to enjoy green life. Alas only if we would have know the right way to maintain them or as we said earlier not to over- maintain them.
We have listed down few points and tips for keeping a healthy terrarium, read it on your leisure, you can also skim through the summary with our short video on the topic, below
1) Adequate Watering : Thumb rule is, do not over water. Terrariums do not come with drainage holes, plus the glass enclosure also prevents or minimizes evaporation as a result frequent or too much watering can result in root rot thereby killing the plant.
2) Provide adequate drainage layer: Again as terrariums do not have drainage hole, creating a natural drainage layer is a must. Make use of large stones for the bottom layer and small stone for second layer before you place charcoal or soil mix.
3) Getting the soil mix right: This is a crucial part, linked again to the type of plant used and its water requirement. If you are using cactus or succulents for your terrarium. The soil mix should drain out fast and retain less water. Whereas for terrarium with foliage plants can live in more moist conditions. A healthy mix will have equal ratio of potting soil , sand , and coco peat.
4) Avoid Direct Sun light: Thanks to our warm summers and excess of Sun throughout the year. This point is a no surprise. What makes things worst for a terrarium is the glass container, which actually magnifies the sun rays, just like in lens. So add this magnification effect with Indian sun. You can understand the disaster in making.
5) Choose the right plant: This we have learned through time and experience. Not all plants thrive in a closed environment, specially native Indian plants. After months of experimentation we have zeroed down to few varieties of Money plants, Peace Lilly, Ferns, Spider plant, dracenea, and the Song of India for group 1 and host of Succulents and Cactus for group 2.
In fact, once you understand a succulent /cactus plants needs, probably they the easiest of maintain of all the plants. Requiring watering as low as, once a month in winters to once a week in summers.
Please feel free to write your comments on your experience with terrariums in India, which plant survived and what made them work for you.