Terrarium Questions and Answers

Question: Can I make a desert terrarium?

Answer: Because the main purpose of a terrarium is to keep the humidity high surrounding the plants, and Cacti and Succulents require extremely dry conditions, there would seem to be a conflict here. You could put desert plants in a container, but you had best leave the container open, and keep the soil very dry. While this might be called a "Terrarium" it would be a stretch to fit that description.
          Personally, I find desert gardens, in plain ceramic dishes or pots, mixed with stones or driftwood much more attractive. They have a "natural" feeling as if this was a piece of the desert plucked from the wild, and placed down here for me to enjoy.

Question: Can I put animals in a terrarium?

Answer: Yes, some people keep frogs, lizards, and various amphibians in containers with plants. When you put animals in a terrarium, it is then called a vivarium. You will need to know the exact needs of the animals you use, and what plants are safe for those animals. You can find some of that information at: The Terrarium Builders Guild

Question: My terrarium plants are growing out of control. They are very long and hitting the top of the container and bending over. I would like them to be more compact and attractive, what can I do?

Answer: When the plants reach the height you like, pinch or cut off the "terminal growth", which is the newest set of leaves growing from the top of the plant. This will encourage fuller growth, much like trimming your hedges creates a bushier plant. As new growth gets longer, you can repeat this. Also long leggy growth might mean you need more light. Terrariums don't want direct hot afternoon sun, but a bright area. Being able to comfortably read in the area would be a good indicator.

Question: I just bought a book on making terrariums and miniature gardens at a book sale at our local library. I have a question though. I just built my first one and it seems to look good with the exception of one thing. The sides of the aquarium that I used to make it (closed one) are all fogged up and tough to see inside. The top inside also has condensation on it but I think that that is ok. Any suggestions or tips with this thing?? I just want to make sure I am doing it right. Or is the water on the side of the glass a bad sign?? It makes it almost impossible to really see inside the thing. Thanks for you time taken to read this and your tips. Nice page too.

Answer: It sounds like you have over watered it, the soil should be barely damp to start with.           Normally, with the soil just "Damp" a terrarium will steam up when there is a temperature change, and then clear by itself when the temperature inside and outside equalizes. This usually occurs in the morning and again in the evening as the house warms and cools.
          Sometimes if the sun shines on it constantly it will stay steamed up, but that doesn't sound like your problem, because it would cease when the sun goes away.
          If this stays this wet, eventually the roots will rot, and the plants will die. You must get rid of the excess water. Feel the soil, if it's just a little wet, try leaving the terrarium open until it dries out some. If it is very wet, you can try pressing paper towels against the soil to absorb the water, using new ones until most of the excess is gone, and then leave it open for a few days to further dry out.

Question: I have a very large fish tank 2' by 4' and want to turn it into a terrarium but I want to something unusual like place a water fall in it do you have any resources for these things and is it advisable to include them in a terrarium.

Answer: There are small recirculating pumps available that you could use to make a waterfall. But, you shouldn't make it inside a closed terrarium because that would be much too much moisture. however you could leave the top off, and use plants that like moisture, and make a miniature natural environment..
          You can find out a lot of info about pumps, and water loving plants at garden shops that feature water gardens and landscape pools.

Question: Hello,my name is Mark,and I have an old 27 gal hexagon tank that i used to use for fish,it has a full hood and a striplight.What kind of lighting situation is most used for a terrarium??,i was thinking about putting it in front of a bathroom window,is this appropriate?and if not........if I put it somewhere else in the house that recieves minimal light,should i use the striplight?.....thanking you in advance.

Answer: I think it would do well in front of the bathroom window as long as the full southern sun doesn't shine right on it. If you can easily read in the area of the terarium, that is the minimum amount of light required. At that point or below, you would do best to use the striplight.

Question: I am making a terrarium for my major project as part of my scince course for my HSC and I was just wondering if you could tell me what is the ideal temperature inside a terrarium? And could you please e-mail ANY extra imformation, tips or secrets to me. Because I can hardly find any info at all...... Regards.....

Answer: Most terrarium plants thrive nicely at temperatures above 60 degrees, an occasional dip of a few degrees below that won't hurt. Keep it out of the hot sun, and you won't have to worry about the high temperatures.
          You can find planting and care information at The Magic terrarium

Question: Hello, I am thinking of turning my aquarium with light hood into a terrarium and putting it in my livingroom (no windows nearby). I am thinking of putting Venus Fly Traps in it but it is not listed in your Suitable Plants (in the Magic Terrarium page) ... is it suitable for the terrarium? If it is, can you give me care instructions or tell me where I can find it on the Internet? Thank you

Answer: I don't think that just the light in the hood would give enough light, if there is no other light source nearby, try moving it nearer a window.
          As to Venus Fly Traps....Carnivorous plants require a special knowledge, which I am working on learning. Here are some links I am using to find out more:

Question: Dear Sir/Madam,
          It would be much appreciated if you could answer my questions about a terrarium.The question is as follows:
          Why do the plants grow very slowly, rarely need watering, do not require fertiliser and yet, without attention, they can remain healthy for several years?

Answer: Properly constructed terrariums become miniature eco-systems.
          They rarely need watering because the enclosed container kepps the water from escaping, and recycles it.
          They grow slowly because you don't fertilize them. They do get nourishment from the energy of the sun, and the small amout of nutriens produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the soil, such as dead leaves etc.
          And, yes...I have have several terrariums that have been planted for several years with litlle attention from me.

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