In preparation for our up and coming auction, the Ag. Science class has begun work on making terrariums. A terrarium is an enclosed system with plants. Essentially the water recycles itself through evaporation and condensation. You rarely ever have to water it, if at all because it essentially creates its own mini water system.
You can make your own terrarium using just a few materials.
1. A glass bowl or container. This can be a fish bowl or a clear glass vase
2. Soil, sand, and gravel
3. Terrarium plants
4. Decorative elements
5. Activated charcoal
Now, the first thing you want to do is create a layer of rocks in the bottom of your container. This is extremely important because the container will have no drainage holes so in order to keep excess water away from the roots of the plant. You place the rocks in there to create a bit of an escape for excess water within the system. The next thing to do is to add about half an inch of activated charcoal as a layer on top of that. doing that will cut down on any smell and it also helps control drainage. After that, place in your soil and sand. Then you will plant your bit of plant in the soil and add in your decorative elements. Water your plant until the soil is damp. You do not want the soil to be wet. It is unwise to add any fertilizers because you want to avoid excess plant growth. You rarely have to water it because it is it’s own enclosed water system, but it is wise to pay attention to the soil. If it is dry, then you should add some more water.
So how does it maintain proper water levels for such a long time without being watered? I’m glad you asked because here’s the answer. When a plant sucks up water, a vital component in photosynthesis, the water travels throughout the plant through the xylem and phloem. Those are essentially the equivalent of our arteries. As it passes through the plant, it needs to have a place to go, in order to sustain the health of the plant. Because of this, plants have little valves called stomata which open and close in order to release the water back into the earth.
If the environment is too warm, the more water the plant needs to stay saturated so the stomata close because they are trying to hold the water within the plant. If it is too cold, the plant will freeze. So when storing the terrariums, it is good to keep them in a place that is not too chilly but also isn’t too warm, that way the plant is given a sustainable place to live.