How to look after a terrarium - watering terrarium plants

How to look after a terrarium

Terrariums make a striking addition to a house plant display. But how do you care for them? We show you.

Terrariums, or bottle gardens, are mess-free and easy to care for, creating little landscapes for house plants that are both calming and therapeutic. They’re easy to make, look perfect on a desk or coffee table and make excellent gifts.

How to look after a terrarium

Terrariums are fairly low maintenance and the plants growing inside them will largely look after themselves. Closed jars will create their own ecosystem and even become self-watering. Where you keep your terrarium is crucial for the plants’ survival, so it’s worth paying attention to the light requirements of each plant before planting them together. Humidity can also be an issue, with some plants requiring dry environments and others needing constant humidity.

Terrariums, or bottle gardens, are mess-free and easy to care for, creating little landscapes for house plants that are both calming and therapeutic. They’re easy to make, look perfect on a desk or coffee table and make excellent gifts.

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How to look after a terrarium

Terrariums are fairly low maintenance and the plants growing inside them will largely look after themselves. Closed jars will create their own ecosystem and even become self-watering. Where you keep your terrarium is crucial for the plants’ survival, so it’s worth paying attention to the light requirements of each plant before planting them together. Humidity can also be an issue, with some plants requiring dry environments and others needing constant humidity.

More on planting terrariums:

Browse our list of terrarium care tips, below.


Where to position a terrarium

How to look after a terrarium - where to position your terrarium
How to look after a terrarium – where to position your terrarium

Closed terrariums

Place these away from windows or in a spot with bright, indirect light as most problems come from too much light or heat. Sit it 1m from a north-facing window, 3m from an east or west-facing window and 5m from a south-facing one.

Open terrariums

Place on a windowsill or table in full or partial sun. If succulents become tall and straggly, they will need more  light, so move them to a brighter spot. If they get enough light, they may even produce flowers.


How to water a terrarium

How to look after a terrarium - watering terrarium plants
How to look after a terrarium – watering terrarium plants

Open terrariums

Water succulents and cacti weekly from March to October with a dessertspoon of water per plant. During winter water only every six weeks.

Closed terrariums

You should be able to see condensation up to a third of the height of the jar. If you can, you don’t need to do anything – the terrarium will maintain an even level of humidity and become ‘self watering’. If the condensation line is higher than a third of the way of the jar, remove excess water by opening up and carefully wiping the inside using kitchen roll wrapped around long tweezers. If there’s very little condensation, add a tablespoon of water.


How to prune terrarium plants

How to look after a terrarium - pruning terrarium plants
How to look after a terrarium – pruning terrarium plants

Trim back any plants that touch the sides of the terrarium using aquatic scissors and tweezers. Cut straggly stems down to a healthy leaf joint to encourage fuller growth and remove any mouldy leaves or stems as soon as you see them.


How to revive sick terrarium plants

How to look after a terrarium - how to revive sick terrarium plants
How to look after a terrarium – how to revive sick terrarium plants

If plants turn brown and look very moist in a closed terrarium, they’re probably getting too much light. Open up and wipe off any excess water with kitchen roll. Trim off and remove dead leaves or stems. Close up the terrarium and move to a shadier spot. If moss looks faded, add a spoonful of water onto it. If you see any mould, wipe it off and leave the lid open for five minutes to allow in airflow.

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With thanks to jarandfern for help with this feature.

Terrariums, or bottle gardens, are mess-free and easy to care for, creating little landscapes for house plants that are both calming and therapeutic. They’re easy to make, look perfect on a desk or coffee table and make excellent gifts.

How to look after a terrarium

Terrariums are fairly low maintenance and the plants growing inside them will largely look after themselves. Closed jars will create their own ecosystem and even become self-watering. Where you keep your terrarium is crucial for the plants’ survival, so it’s worth paying attention to the light requirements of each plant before planting them together. Humidity can also be an issue, with some plants requiring dry environments and others needing constant humidity.

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