How to maintain a terrarium

07/07/2017 By Wonderful Terrarium 0

What are terrariums with succulents?

The most beautiful way to bring life to your house is to decorate it with flowers. That is why we choose terrariums to decorate our homes or offices, so we can delight our eyes with a miniature garden.

By definition, TERRARIUM (lat. terra, land) is a garden under glass, a sort of humid or dry aquarium inside of which there is soil with ornamental plants (…). This creates a microclimate similar to the clime where the respective plant comes from, behaving like an ecosystem. They date back to the Victorian period and seem to gain more and more ground nowadays. Practically, terrariums are minigardens designed with taste, creating various natural landscapes, depending on one’s own preferences and the plants and accessories used.

Photosynthesis is easily done in terrariums because the bowls have walls of transparent glass. Normally, a regular terrarium should be placed near a window, so that the plants can get the light they need, but, in case of our terrariums, this is no longer necessary, because we added a LED lighting system to the bowls necessary to the existence of plants, but which, at the same time, gives the entire terrarium a wonderful, relaxing, fairytale look.

Succulents can be defined as plants with fleshy leaves and stems which retain water in their tissues. They have a succulent, live tissue, which serves and guarantees for a temporary storage of usable water, which makes the plant live independently from external supply.

Succulents are very numerous, thousands of species and have various shapes, colours and sizes. The only thing they have in common is their special structure to easily adapt to dry environments, with the help of their tissues and for this reason are considered “smart plants”. They survive in arid areas of the planet, with extreme heat and little rain, from Australia to the Northern part of North America and they function like tanks, storing water in their stems and leaves, to release it gradually, in time, depending on their development needs.
Unfortunately, in our country there are not many succulent plants, but their exotic variants are very interesting. These include, though, some of the most common plants, such as aloe or agave plants, and better known in our country are cacti, which form a distinct group of succulents.

How to take care of succulents

TEMPERATURE: medium heat from spring to autumn; winter – in a cool place. Succulents are very resistant to cold, since they are adapted to desert temperatures at night, where the temperature variations between day and night are very high. Normally, they prefer between 25-30 degrees Celsius during the day and 10-15 degrees Celsius, at night.

LIGHT: plenty of powerful, shiny light. Ideally: minimum 6-8 hours/day during the growing period. The own LED light, incorporated in the terrarium can be used, as well; or the terrarium can be placed on the ledge of a window facing South, but not in direct sunlight, at noon. Special care must be paid to the leaves, to check whether they are exposed correctly; more exactly, if they have small sunburns on their leaves or stems, it means that they overexposed to direct sunlight, but when they don’t get enough light, the plants will spread out and their stems will grow with large spaces between the leaves.
Very importantly, though: succulents must not be placed under direct sunlight because the sun rays will burn their leaves, since they are covered by glass, which creates a greenhouse effect. The morning and the late afternoon sun is very beneficial to these plants. In winter, they tolerate very well even a less powerful light.

WATER: rarely, moderately, once every 2-3 weeks, depending on its positioning. During the hot summer periods, they may need water more often, sometimes even once a week. In autumn and winter, the plants are in a latent state and can be watered more rarely, once every 1-1,5 months.
During the growing period (summer or spring) it’s necessary to water them more frequently. A plant that does not get enough water stops growing and starts losing its leaves or, sometimes, can develop yellow or brown spots on its leaves and these can dry or become transparent.

Watering frequency depends very much on the positioning of the terrarium, as well: if the arrangement is placed near a window with little sun, the soil will dry faster; in a semi-shadowy place, watering can be done more rarely, around 20-day intervals.
Terrariums with succulents can be watered in two ways: controlled watering or spraying (we recommend controlled watering, with a small amount of water at the base of the plant, as close as possible to its root). It is extremely important to let the soil dry between two waterings. Water it thoroughly and let it drain very well.

Still, too much water is not recommended. For the good development of the plants, it is absolutely necessary to water them little but thoroughly. Water in excess can harm succulent plants more than the lack of it. Overwatering leads to the death of the plants, although this aspect cannot be noticed immediately and the plant may look good and healthy, while its roots gradually rot.
Usually, overwatered plants are soft and discoloured or they can be yellow or white, mainly, visibly losing their colour. This is the moment when we must stop watering them for a period of time.

Overwatering can also be the cause of some spontaneous new leaves, which outgrow the others more rapidly. Plants can be watered again only after the soil dried very well (not when it is almost dry). We can notice thorough the vessel’s walls if the soil is humid and needs or not to be watered; even better than this, we can try the soil by sticking a pencil or a finger in it: if the soil is dry, we must water it abundantly, until the water gets to the bottom of the glass bowl.
Succulents need a good drainage and that is why we must be careful not to leave to much water on the bottom of the vessel after repeated waterings. We recommend you to note down the watering days, at least during the first period of adaptation with the plants.

SOIL: special soil for succulents and cacti, with a high pH level and which allows oxygenation and a rapid draining. The soil influences the watering frequency and must allow a very good draining. No fertilizers should be added to the plants because they don’t have to grow more than it is necessary.

AIR HUMIDITY: normally, succulents prefer a quite dry air; however, if, during the growing period, their leaves are sprayed and their roots watered, at the same time, they might grow better. The terrarium itself functions as an ecosystem and ensures the humidity the plants need. It is recommended to place the terrarium in a drafty place in your apartment, so it can aerate better. In case a slight condensation appears on the inside of the glass bowl, this should disappear within a reasonable period of time, so that plants do not rot. Therefore, the terrarium should be placed on the line of air drafts in the house, so as to help eliminate condensation. Still, terrariums need humidity, that is why, in the first days, they should be monitored and checked to see whether the soil is too dry, in which case it is advisable to water them.

Particularities of succulent terrariums

– they resist for periods of 2-3-4 weeks, without water

– are very easy to maintain and have no pests

– they resist being neglected for long periods of time

– they resist to high temperatures and even to big temperature variations

– on the long term, however, even terrarium succulents need care just like the rest of the other plants: wilt ends must be removed, together with the dry leaves and twigs before they start to rot. In case one of the plants has a disease, it must be removed because it can infect the rest of the plants, as well.

– Succulents are very interesting because there are only few other plants similar to them and they are almost indestructible (we should not plant in the terrarium plants we pick from nature, because they will not be able to adapt)

– Each terrarium has its own story and you can create all sorts of landscapes inside of it

– Terrariums are wonderful in their aspect and also in their way of surviving, while serving as educational projects, because they demonstrate very clearly the way an ecosystem works. A terrarium is an ecosystem in itself, just like our planet, but at a much lower scale. Inside the glass bowl, many processes take place, such as: photosynthesis, respiration and the natural water cycle.

– Inside a terrarium there is a very humid environment and, for this reasons, having a terrarium in our homes is an original way of solving the problem of dry air, indoors

– Moreover, a terrarium is a decorative object of great impact and can be the perfect present on any occasion. Succulents provide a unique element to an indoor area, because the simplicity of nature always decorates the best.