One of the most common questions we get asked is, "How do I water my terrarium?" There are a few things you can do a few different things to ensure your terrarium stays appropriately watered. In this blog, we''' cover all the aspects of adding water to your terrarium, how terrariums differ from houseplants, the best watering methods to use, and common pitfalls to avoid overwatering.
Overwatering and Root Rot
The biggest challenge new terrarium owners face is overwatering. Unlike potted plants, excess water cannot be drained from the bottom of a terrarium. The water that goes into your closed terrarium will become a part of the terrarium ecosystem, so the amount of water must be a manageable amount.
There's no rule on how much water you should put in your terrarium; you'll have to go by feeling. After watering, the soil in your terrarium should be moist to the touch but not soggy. If your plants sit in too much water, they will get a fungal infection known as root rot. Overwatered soil cuts off oxygen to the root system, causing the roots to become brown and mushy, dying away until the plant wilts.
Fortunately, root rot can be prevented by watering correctly and adding a drainage layer when setting up your terrarium.
Spray Bottle Watering Method
Fill a spray bottle with water and turn the nozzle on the "stream" setting. The objective is to open the terrarium and spray the interior glass walls. Ensure the water is running down the sides of the glass rather than being sprayed directly onto the soil. Rotate in a 360-degree motion. Continue spraying until all sides of the glass are covered, then close the terrarium.
Any plant in a pot or terrarium without drainage holes needs a drainage layer: an area designed to hold excess water. When creating your terrarium, fill the bottom layer with rocks and horticultural charcoal at least ¼ inch high, then add the soil on top. Now excess water will collect on the bottom layer among the rocks rather than sitting around the roots.
Help, I watered too much! How do I get the extra water out?
Accidents happen! If too much water was added and the soil is very soggy, try removing the water collected on the bottom using a pipette.
I watered the terrarium when I set it up. When will I water again?
This also depends on the type of enclosure and the contents inside the terrarium. In general, our terrariums will need to be watered a small amount every 2 weeks.
The terrarium looks foggy inside. Does this mean I watered too much?
No, the fog is normal and encouraged. Seeing condensation in your terrarium means everything is working correctly and moving through the water cycle. Do not open your terrarium to cycle the fog out, as it takes away its ability to recycle the water properly.
Terrarium watering can feel like an art rather than a science. With the correct technique and drainage layer in place, your terrarium will be set up to thrive.
If you have been thinking about starting your own terrarium but haven't yet taken the leap, you can browse our terrarium selection and find the one that's right for you.