Living plants are a valuable addition to vivaria for many reasons. In fact, they are so beneficial that they should be considered a standard component of vivaria for most kinds of herps. Furthermore, there are reasons why really serious keepers of the more rare, pricey and difficult herps tend to use living plants.
A terrarium (plural: terraria or terrariums)
A terrarium s usually a sealable glass container containing soil and plants and can be opened for maintenance to access the plants inside. Yet, terraria can also be open to the atmosphere rather than being completely sealed. In fact, closed terraria create a unique environment for plant growth.
The sealed container is in combination with the heat entering the terrarium. As a result, this allows for the creation of a small scale water cycle from both the soil and plants. Consequently, this condenses on the walls of the container and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below. Furthermore, the cycle that is created is an ideal environment for growing plants. Due to the transparent walls that allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium. Therefore allowing the plants within to photosynthesize.
To Create A Terrarium You Will Need:
- Glass Vessel – You’ll need some sort of glass vessel to create your terrarium. There are plenty of unique containers from which to choose. Just make sure that the vessel is made of a transparent material so you can enjoy your mini-garden.
- Small Stones or Pebbles – Small stones or pebbles will be used as the base of your terrarium. The small pebbles act as water drainage for the plants’ roots to ensure that excess water doesn’t stay in the soil and cause rot.
- Activated Charcoal – You won’t need much; a thin layer of activated charcoal keeps water fresh and helps to fight off bacterial growth in your terrarium. I find using volcano rock works well too!
- Potting Soil – Potting soil will act as an important layer for your DIY terrarium. Any type of soil should do the trick, although there are special mixes available if you’re planting cacti or succulents.
- Plants – It wouldn’t be a terrarium without the greenery. Pick out a few of your favorite pint-sized plants to use in your terrarium. Air plants, succulents, and mini-cacti are all viable options. See our complete list of recommended terrarium plants below.
- Small Gardening Tools – Having small tools handy will help you create and situate all of the items in your DIY terrarium.
When selecting plants to use for your DIY terrarium, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Select plants that are small enough for your glass vessel. You won’t want any greenery touching the sides of your container and making your terrarium feel cramped.
- Plants that do well with humidity are most likely to thrive in your terrarium. Although succulents and cacti aren’t humidity’s biggest fans, you can compensate by using a glass container with a slight opening, like the one we used for this tutorial.
Whatever plants you select, you can keep them healthy by mimicking their natural environment in your terrarium. We recommend choosing a few from the list below:
- Air plant Tillandsia stricta
- Assorted succulents
- Assorted cacti
Start by planting your largest plant first. Remove the plant from its container and prune the roots as you would when repotting any plant. Then, make a hole in the soil large enough to fit the plants’ roots. Next, nestle the plant into the soil. It’s easiest to work your way from the back to the front of your terrarium. There’s no rhyme or reason to the design of your terrarium, play around with the arrangement and don’t forget to have fun!
Pro Tip: Use gloves when handling cactus or any other prickly plant.
After all of your plants are arranged in your glass vessel, complete the look with a layer of pebbles. You can also opt to add some personality to your terrarium with miniature gnomes or trinkets.
Once your terrarium is complete, you’ll need to take proper care of it. Sunlight and water are two essential items for the success of your terrarium.
- Be sure to lightly water the base every two weeks or once the soil looks like it has dried out.
- You should also display your terrarium in an area that receives a lot of bright, indirect sunlight.
A vivarium (Latin, literally for “place of life”; plural: vivaria or vivariums)
The Vivarium is an area for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research. While a vivarium may be small enough to sit on a desk or table such as an aquarium. Same as a very large structure may also make perfect vivaria, possibly even outdoors. The essential purpose of a vivarium is to maintain a stable environment for the safety and comfort of the species and the personnel who work in these spaces every day. Therefore, the environment must be monitored and controlled at all times; even the smallest change can have a big impact, directly affecting the quality of the research and the well-being of the specimens.
Old-hand gardeners know for best success indoor cactus and succulent plants require a certain amount of neglect.
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