Make a Mini Ecosystem Inside a Terrarium


Your Challenge: Make your own mini ecosystem inside a terrarium

What You Need

  • A glass container that has a wide mouth with or without top (vase, apothecary jar, or covered cake stand are some ideas)
  • Plants
  • Gravel or small rocks
  • Activated charcoal (get this from a nursery or pet store)
  • Potting Soil

Here's How

First pick the type of terrarium you want to make. Closed top terrariums can contain more moist and tropical plants, while open top terrariums can only contain dryer plants like cacti and succulents. If you decide to use plants like succulents that have drier ecosystem needs you may have to add some sand to your terrarium. Check out this website to help you pick what plants work best for your temperature, light and moisture settings.

1.Clean your terrarium container thoroughly
2.Add at least a 2 inch layer or fill up about ⅓ of the container (dependent on size) with gravel or small rocks
3.Next add a ½ inch layer of charcoal
4.Now add enough potting soil either to fill your terrarium about halfway or enough to cover the largest root ball of your plants (example: if your plants root ball is 4 inches deep you’ll need at least 4 inches of soil)
5.Take out your plants and starting planning how you want to place them. I recommend going from largest to smallest. Then take each plant out of its pot and loosen up its roots by teasing or cutting them before planting.
6.Dig an appropriate size hole for your plant and then place it inside the hole. Make sure the soil is well compacted around your plant. Do not leave air pockets in your soil. If you’re having trouble planting because of the shape of your terrarium try using chopsticks or tongs to help you plant.
7.Water your plants and close your top (if closed terrarium)

Water plants regularly based on their moisture needs, but do not overwater. If using closed terrarium make sure to allow the container and plants to air out once weekly or monthly depending on your plants. Place your terrarium where your plants can get the proper amount of sunlight. To start pick a shadier spot but then move it to a spot where it can receive indirect sunlight.

Take It Further

Try adding some decorative accents to your terrarium. They could be sea shells, small ceramic figures, or pine cones!


Related Careers

Soil and Plant Scientist, Botanist

Get out your green thumbs and try creating your own ecosystem!

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