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All About Terrariums

In the modern world of gardening, terrariums have been coming back in a big way … and for good reason. Find out everything you need to know about this trending hobby, from what a terrarium is to how these miniature ecosystems help save the environment.

What Is a Terrarium?

A terrarium is a small collection of miniature plants that are grown inside a clear container. The terrarium is sealed to create a self-contained ecosystem, in which the life processes of photosynthesis, respiration and the water cycle take place. Just as it does in a life-size ecosystem, water passes through its every form in a terrarium as well—from liquid to gas—as it is absorbed by the plants, released into the air, and returned to liquid condensation on the terrarium walls.

Terrariums come in all different shapes and sizes, and they can be controlled to simulate every type of ecosystem from a dessert to a rainforest. Most of them are made with a glass jar, but you can also fashion one out of a clear plastic container. Whichever type of container is used, it should have a large mouth so that the plants can be easily placed inside. It's usually best to fill the terrarium with small plants such as moss, lichens, ferns, air plants plants, begonias, violets and more. You can choose different varieties to create your own little plant world.

Fern Terrarium

What Are the Benefits of a Terrarium?

There are many benefits to having a terrarium in your home. Here are just a few:

• Terrariums are low-maintenance:

Once you spritz your plants with water and close the container lid, your job is pretty much done. Since a terrarium is self-sustaining, you don't have to worry about watering it every day. Unlike other plants that die when you neglect them, terrarium plants thrive when they're left alone because the plants already exist in a balanced environment.

• Terrariums are small:

If you live in an apartment or a small home with no backyard, terrariums give you the chance to overcome your spatial confinements and grow some green anyway. Just because your space is small doesn't mean you have to give up on gardening. Terrariums let you enjoy your passion for plants, no matter where you are!

• Terrariums are portable:

Moving to a new home? If you're on the road, you can take your entire garden with you in your terrarium! You don't have to worry about uprooting an entire backyard or leaving your beloved plants behind. Wherever you go, your terrarium safely follows.

• Terrariums are perfect for every season:

Old Man Winter doesn't have to take away your green thumb, either. Your indoor container protects your plants from the harsh outdoor conditions, and its humidity control also protects the plants from dry indoor air. It's like bringing Mother Nature indoors, minus the icky weather!

• Terrariums are pest-free:

You don't have to worry about pesky bugs and weeds threatening the life of your little greens. As long as you make sure that you don't trap any pests in the container when you seal it, you can rest assured that your plants will grow in peace.

• Terrariums are pet-proof:

Some species of plants and flowers can be dangerous to your pet's health if they're consumed. Since your plants are tucked behind the protective glass of the terrarium, you don't have to worry about your kitty accidentally nibbling on them and getting sick.
Violet Terrarium

Violet Terrarium

How Were Terrariums Invented?

The first terrarium was created—better yet, accidentally discovered—back in 1827 by Dr. Nathanial Ward, a London physician and botanist. While Ward was studying sphinx moths that he had placed in a sealed plastic bottle, he was surprised to find a small fern growing inside the bottle too. He kept the bottle sealed and watched it closely for four years, and he noticed that the fern survived without him adding a single drop of water to the container. Ward continued studying plants in containers for many years, and in 1842 he published a book titled On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases. As a result, what were known as Wardian cases—the original terrariums—were born. They were initially large, enclosed cases that were used to grow plants and transport them over great distances.

What Are the Features of a Terrarium?

When you've decided that you want a terrarium in your home, you can either buy one from our great collection of terrariums or create one from scratch. If you make your own, you'll have to make sure it has all the necessary features to grow healthy, fertile plants. But when buying one of our high-quality terrariums—which come in well-packaged glass containers and gorgeous metal encasings that add lots of style to your indoor décor—you can rest assured that it already has all the great qualities you need for a good, long-lasting mini garden. Our ready-to-go terrariums make great gifts for all your loved ones too. And the best part is they're hassle-free: You and your friends can start watching your beautiful new plants grow as soon as the package hits your doorstep!

If you'd like to attempt to create your own terrarium, the 1800Flowers blog Petal Talk has a helpful article on how to make your own DIY terrarium.

Why Are Terrariums Hot and Trending?

Everyone thought that terrariums hit the peak of their popularity in the '70s and '80s, but they're making a very big comeback in today's world, showing us that their time in the limelight is far from over. Why all the craze? Aside from all the benefits mentioned above, terrariums allow gardeners—newbies and veterans alike—to artistically express their personalities through their plants.

If you do a search for the word "terrarium" on Pinterest, you'll find an infinite number of ideas for making creative terrariums—from using old lightbulbs and Christmas ornaments as containers, to creating enchanting pint-sized fairy gardens. Decorating a terrarium is a fun personal hobby that you can enjoy any which way you like. With just a little bit of imagination, you can create just about anything!

Last but not least, terrariums are on trend because they perfectly fit into today's environmentally-friendly lifestyle. With their upcycled containers and their use of all-natural materials, terrariums help promote a clean, healthy environment. They also absorb pollutants and radiation from the air, so they actually make your environment healthier and safer to live in. Plus, they make it easy to teach kids about the environment too: They're often used in schools to show little ones how the water cycle works, so eco-conscious efforts can be passed down to many generations to come.