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  • Writer's pictureMartin Steel-Brown

Terrariums - The captured garden craze.

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Terrariums, or Wardian Case as they were once known as, have been around since the Victorian era, however they've seen surges in popularity in more recent times as plant lovers look to their home interiors to satisfy their green desires. Peering into their glass worlds can be surprisingly relaxing and you'll no doubt find yourself drifting off into a daze while you contemplate their miniature world, welcoming the distraction from your day.

While often seen as opened glass containers with a variety of plants growing inside, true terrariums by definition are fully enclosed vessels. This sealed system provides the perfect environment for humidity loving plants and if created using the correct materials, they can sustain themselves with very little human intervention. Open top vessels however, require a lot more monitoring & attention as they are more susceptible to the surrounding environmental conditions, often drying out quickly.

Because enclosed terrariums contain their own moisture, they are super low maintenance and perfect for people who are time poor or have basic to zero green thumbs. They make the perfect piece for apartment dwellers and renters, as they suit small spaces and can easily be shifted if moving house. Even city office workers are looking to terrariums to spruce up their work space, providing them with some much needed green distraction during the day which in turn will boost your productivity. Best of all, your terrarium will still be alive come Monday morning!

Here are a few tips to ensure your terrarium is kept in optimal condition.


Place your terrarium in a spot that receives moderate to bright light. Try to avoid direct hot sun, however in cooler climates or throughout winter, a little morning sun will be fine for 1 hr a day.


The plants within enclosed terrariums are plants which love humid conditions and can cope well with being indoors. These often include ferns and tropical plants as well as mosses. Choose a terrarium from a reputable stockist or ask your local nursery for help in selecting plants if you are creating your own.


Observing condensation on the inside of the glass is a perfectly normal trait for terrariums. This is actually a good sign and indicates that your terrarium is cycling its own water through evaporation and transpiration. The ideal level of condensation will vary depending on what plants are being used inside. Moss only terrariums require very tiny droplets of water on the glass and a fog or hazy appearance inside, as they extract their moisture from the air. Other tropical plants require a damper environment where the soil is moist as well as the air, so larger droplets condensation is best.


Water is only required every 4-8 weeks in enclosed terrariums with tropical plants, or sometimes even less in a tightly sealed container. Moss terrariums may require more regular, weekly spraying to enhance their ideal colouring and because they will also benefit from regular aeration, where moisture levels may be lost. The condensation is key to a terrariums watering requirements. If you notice that the condensation stops for a period longer than a day or two, chances are it is time for a mist. Check the surface of your terrarium to see if it is dry to touch. If its still moist, leave the watering for a week or two and check again. When the surface is dry to touch, its time to water. Use a spray bottle on the mist setting and only ever use distilled or rain water, as tap water is often treated with chemicals that can harm your plants in an enclosed environment. 5-10 sprays is usually sufficient, depending on the size of your terrarium.

Pruning & Fertilsing

The plants in your Miniscapes will naturally grow at a slow rate. If you find your terrarium is becoming a little crowded and you would like to open it up a little, you can clip back some of the plant leaves to give it more shape. Or you can simply let it run wild! As for fertilising, there is often no need as there should be enough nutrients in the soil to begin with and any dead plant material will naturally break down and recycle nutrients back into the soil over time.

Terrariums are a classic indoor piece that can really lift a space and provide living interest. With their ability to thrive on their own with minimal fuss, this is a plant craze that deserves to become a standard in every home and office.

An enclosed terrarium makes quite the statement piece

An open terrarium can be a great feature, but they will require more maintenance and careful treatment.

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