Since starting on this journey into the terrarium world I've noticed some perceptions from people I speak with of when it came to care of terrariums. Like with anything, there's a lot of information out there on the internet and sometimes it can be very confusing and even conflicting the advice depending on where you're reading the information from.
I found the best way for me to learn about terrariums was a combination of reading from Dr. Google and my own experience watching how my terrariums behave depending on where it's placed, lighting, temperature, mix of plants etc. It's been about 18months now since my first terrarium and below is some learnings I've found along the way and wanted to share with you.
Myth 1 - Terrariums look after themselves and do not need any watering
This is true to some extend. The level of care depends on a number of factors and what type of terrarium care style you personally are. If you like a terrarium that is completely self sustainable it has to have the right plant combination, jar size/shape, soil/drainage system and kept in the right spot. Every terrarium maker will have their specialised style and creative landscaping look so choose the terrarium that's best suited to your preference, not always how it looks (although we completely understand if you bought with your eyes!).
Myth 2 - High condensation = perfect terrarium internal atmosphere
Only a small selected number of plants are capable of tolerating constant high condensation/humidity and they are generally from fern or moss family species. However if I can generalise, most terrarium designs will have a mixture of moss, ferns and other popular terrarium plants such as Fittonias and Calathea species...maybe even a bonsai tree. Generally speaking if you purchase a terrarium with a mixture of plants like above, the ideal internal atmosphere is slight condensation at night and during the day evaporates and clears up. You should not see an excessive amount of large droplets of condensation on glass or on the plants as this can cause the leaves to deteriorate (think of how fast your veggies deteriorate in the fridge when it's been washed versus not washed) or worse, mold to grow. High condensation occurs usually when there is drastic fluctuation of room temperature so check if your terrarium display location is not too near windows or in the vicinity of where heating/cooling drafts. If you find your terrarium to have too much condensation, just let a little gap show at the lid and it should be enough to allow natural evaporation to occur before closing lid back again.
Myth 3 - Terrarium can tolerate low to almost no light
All plants require sunlight to perform photosynthesis to survive (including moss). Therefore the theory that terrariums do not need much light is a sure way to shorten the lifespan. It can tolerate periods of low light however will require good indirect light from a window or indoor lighting to ensure it stays healthy and last longer. Windows that are north facing generally are the best locations to house a terrarium. Remember to avoid direct sunlight on a terrarium unless you want to cook your plants!
Myth 4 - You can use any plants for a terrarium including Cacti and Succulents
Yes in theory however, most terrariums that has Cacti or Succulent plants do not last long if your plan is to display it indoors and not give it enough light. Just ensure the terrarium you purchase is an open terrarium (ie. without a lid) and that you're prepared to display it outdoors like a shaded outdoor dining area or balcony. Even if it is outdoors, avoid direct sunlight on the plants if it's in a glass jar as even though there is no lid, the sun rays beaming through the glass can kill the cacti/succulents inside it.
We hope these tips has been insightful and you've learned something more about terrariums. Keep an eye out for more blogs as I will be sharing more of what I've learnt including any articles or other blogs. I'm still learning about plants and terrariums everyday and don't think you'll ever stop learning!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us and we're more than happy to help where we can.