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Signs of a healthy terrarium

I see a lot of questions in Facebook groups asking for advice on their terrarium when it comes to the care of them. Depending on type of plants in the terrarium, closed vs. open, size of jar and also where it's kept the advice can vary immensely.

There are however some common topics of advice that can apply to majority of terrarium care. A lot of these advice is a combination of both from the internet and my own experience to verify the legitimacy of the advice.

Here is my top 3 tips.

Terrarium Condensation Cycle

A well established terrarium will build condensation during the morning and evening and possibly during middle of the day. How often condensation occurs will bore down to the humidity and temperature levels inside the terrarium versus outside room temperature it is in. The condensation cycle is perfectly normal for a terrarium however it is the level of condensation that we should be more focused on. Condensation shouldn't be that high that you see a high amount of water droplets forming on the leaves or dripping down the walls of the jar. Most plants inside a terrarium will like humidity but too much water on the leaves with no evaporation will lead to affected leaves deteriorating. The quickest way overcome this problem is open the lid of jar for about 5-10mins to allow water to evaporate on days there's too much condensation.

Example of healthy condensation forming

Smell of Terrarium

Not many people would consider this but what should a terrarium smell like? In short terrarium should not have any odd or foul smell coming from it. It should at most smell 'earthy' or what your garden would smell like after a good rain. If you can smell decay like a compost bin kind of smell, it means the leaves or dead plant matter is decaying. Most terrariums made do not have any bioactive bugs (eg. springtails, woodlice, earthworms) included as it can be expensive to add them in and often the jar is too small to be able to feed the bugs well. If there are no bugs to eat the plant waste, then it's up to you to maintain the terrarium and conduct trimming and removal of dead leaves throughout the year. How often this occurs depends on the plants and how quick they are growing. We recommend you should ask the store about care tips before you buy one.

Mushroom vs Mold

As a general rule of thumb, the presence of mold (white fluff/webbing) generally is not a good sign. Personally I am not as worried spotting mushrooms in my terrariums versus mold (assuming it's only growing a couple and not taking over the whole jar!). If you spot any mold in your jar monitor the jar closely and if it is spreading past than just its initial spot forming, then you will need to remove it. This may mean trimming off any leaves or removing/cleaning the rock or wood decoration. Mold can also appear in the form of black or bright spots. Both mold and mushroom appearing in a terrarium can be quite normal as the spores are always present in the soil, air, plants and on rocks/wood but they only grow and appear when humidity and temperature environment is optimal hence why they appear more so in terrariums!

Example of healthy terrarium with mushroom

If you have any questions regarding your terrarium, please send us an email with some photos and we'll be happy to try and help.

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