Last year I posted about a DIY closed terrarium that I had created that winter. In this post, I’ll review how my terrarium is doing nearly a year and a half later and go over some tips for how to properly care for a closed terrarium.
First, let’s have a quick refresher on terrariums. Closed terrariums and open terrariums are completely different. An open terrarium is best for plants that don’t need moisture to thrive and is not a self-sustaining ecosystem. Essentially, you’ll still have to care for it like you would for your other plants.
Closed terrariums are their own mini, self-sustaining ecosystems. Only moisture-loving plants should be used in closed terrariums. When you water your closed terrarium the water will eventually evaporate and you’ll see condensation forming on the lid. It is critical to have 1. drainage and 2. horticultural charcoal to keep the environment functioning properly and clean.
You can read my full DIY closed terrarium tutorial here.
Overall, my terrarium is still in great shape! It’s been almost a year and a half and the nerve plant I used still looks pretty healthy.
The terrarium has been moved to a few different locations but that didn’t seem to disturb it. The plant does look a little dry in some spots. I suspect that it’s getting a little too much light.
The picture at the top has a lot of light in it—this is NOT where I normally keep the terrarium, I just moved it for the picture. The nerve plant is also getting slightly too big so I’m going to prune it soon. You may or may not be able to tell in that photo (sorry for the glare, it is SO hard to get a good picture of this thing).
The great thing about terrariums is that while they require work to set up, they’re so easy to care for. Below are a few basic components of closed terrarium care:
- Water – I give the soil moisture a quick check first, but generally, I add a few tablespoons of water every three to four weeks. You should add enough to keep the soil moist. If you see water draining through to the bottom, you’ve added too much.
- Sunlight – A closed terrarium is similar to a mini greenhouse—it can get very hot if placed in too much sun. Mine doesn’t receive any direct light. It sits on a table in the middle of the dining room which has windows on either side.
- Fresh air – About every two weeks, or whenever I see excess condensation, I take the lid off for 20 minutes or so to let in some air circulation and get rid of the condensation. I also give it a sniff just to make sure there’s no rot or other funky things going on in there. Before putting the lid back on, I give the terrarium a gentle shake because it makes me feel better on the off chance a stray gnat has decided to fly inside and hang out.
- Cleaning – I clean the dust off the top and sides of the container every so often. I don’t clean the inside walls too much, but you should if yours seems to be getting grimy so that your plant can photosynthesize without any issues.
- Pruning – If your plant looks like it’s getting too big for the container, take a pair of clean scissors to prune some of the overgrown parts.
I tried to build a terrarium a few years before this with an empty Patron bottle and a succulent. I had NO idea what I was doing and the plant died pretty quickly. (But it looked SO cute for the week that it lived!)
Even though I had done my research this time around and now knew what I had to do to build a successful closed terrarium, I was still nervous. However, the fact that my terrarium is thriving over a year later has given me the confidence to do more projects like this and goes to show that there are no shortcuts in taking the time to do things correctly!