Remember this post last year, from Amy? She discussed terrariums (terraria?) as a 70s phenomenon that might experience a revival. She was clearly prescient in my case. Not only did we purchase two of the Think Geek desktop carnivorous plant sets as gifts for nephews and nieces, I received the pretty object you see above as a birthday gift from a neighbor.
It’s a homemade terrarium filled with succulents and I’ve had it for almost a month. And you know what I’ve done to maintain it? Nothing! I brought it to my office, where it spends its utterly neglected life being admired by passers-by. Maybe the admiration is helping it thrive, because I haven’t watered it, trimmed it, or done so much as to pluck a dead leaf from it.
Amy said a lot of funny things about terrariums, but what she didn’t mention is that they seem to require no work whatsoever. I got a bit worried (shouldn’t I be doing something?) and googled about, but mainly came up with sentences like the following: It is not uncommon for a terrarium not to need watering for 4 to 6 months. Yes, quite a distressing use of the double negative, but also very freeing. I could go on a vacation around the world and this thing might still be alive.
Or not. And that’s my view of most plants, inside or out. Death could always come. And that’s OK. That’s why they have more plants.
The thing about terrariums, especially the more ornate Victorian Wardian cases, is they look very fragile and delicate. I’ve always assumed that I’d never be able to keep one going. But I’ve been watching this one, and it’s easy to see how it keeps itself going. You see the condensation forming on the glass as the enclosed plants exude moisture, maintaining their own little ecosystem. Once I stop seeing the condensation, that might be the time to add a bit of water. And that’s all.
Here are what seem to be some easy terrarium instructions, courtesy of the Wool Food Mama blog, but there are lots of others, and they are all basically the same: gravel, soil, plants, maybe a couple rocks. I would amend them to say that instead of a mason jar, I would find a pretty covered glass container like the one I have. This might be a great gift—for yourself, preferably.
UPDATE: Here is another great set of instructions on the Blithewold Gardens site.