'What is a terrarium?' is something you may have asked yourself, or friends in the past. A terrarium, by definition, is usually a sealed glass container containing soil and plants. They also need to be open-able so they can be maintained. However, we like to refer to terrariums as gardens in a jar.

Down in London, we tend to lack garden space or share it with hundreds of others and call it a park. Terrariums give you the opportunity to create your own space, straight from your imagination. Bring your garden inside, by creating a green world inside a jar. Choose your plants, carefully arrange them and sit back and enjoy your terrarium from the comfort of your sofa.

How do they work?

Closed terrariums create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium. The sealed container combined with the heat entering the terrarium allows for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapour then condenses on the walls of the container and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below.

This contributes to creating an ideal environment for growing plants due to the constant supply of water, thereby preventing the plants from becoming over dry. In addition to this, the light that passes through the transparent material of the terrarium allows for the plants within to photosynthesise, a very important aspect of plant growth.

Are they self-sustainable?

In the large sense yes. They do require looking after like any plants do but terrariums can largely be left to their own devices. Every now and then you might find they aren't getting enough light, or too much, and will require shifting around the house to make sure they have the best environment. If a terrarium gets too much light, they will photosynthesise too much, leaving you with a soggy terrarium that could then be prone to mould.

Can I make my own?

You may have seen some terrariums available to purchase in garden centres or interior shops and marvel at the intricacies of how it was made. Well, the good news is, making a terrarium is easier than you think! You just need to make sure you've got the right tools, and the best instruction.

The basic "ingredients" needed to create a terrarium are soil, moss, clay pellets, activated carbon (to keep your soil fresh!), plants and the all important vessel itself. Vessels range from small jam jars, to large glass domes and eggs that really are a statement piece. These can be sealed in different ways, from a cork lid, to a seamless join where the glass fits together. You may think that the larger the easier it would be to make, and in some cases that is correct, but building a terrarium is all about placing layers of your "ingredients" as neatly as possible, which becomes more difficult as the opening of your terrarium gets smaller!

Sourcing and knowing how to build a terrarium is made easy by botanical enthusiasts like the Botanical Boys and Leafage, who sell terrarium kits that include everything you need and a step by step guide for you to build your terrarium at home. This gives you the option to build in your own time and really become one with this living thing. These kits also make great gifts for loved ones all throughout the year.

Where can I learn how to make a terrarium?

Not confident to make a terrarium on your own? Why not book a class or workshop to learn from the best! There are many in London that offer a range of styles of terrarium you can make.

There's the Botanical Boys who offer masterclasses and intro classes with your choice of vessel, from Kilner jars to large glass eggs. You can also purchase one of their terrarium kits and join a live online workshop to make your terrarium from the comfort of your own home, whilst also gaining excellent instruction.

Offering a slightly different take on the classic, Floral Merchant London, run by Hayley from a beautiful conservatory style studio, offer succulent plant "terrariums". This means the glass vessel holding all your lovely plants is actually open, as a closed eco-system is not needed to keep these plants alive. This gives even more flexibility to the style, resulting in equally beautiful "terrariums".

Bringing her background in graphic design to the table, Kay from Leafage runs stunning terrarium workshops with a real focus on well-being and mindfulness as part of the process. Similar to both the Botanical Boys and Floral Merchant London, you can also book live online workshops to help you build from home!

Need more advice?

Hopefully this article has helped you to establish what is a terrarium, and whether you're looking for a fun afternoon experience, or are truly passionate about plants, purchasing a terrarium kit, or attending a class, is certainly a step in the right direction!

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