What is a Terrarium?

What is a Terrarium?

You've probably heard of a terrarium, but have you ever thought about what they are? 

The simplest way to answer "What is a terrarium?" is it's a mini garden inside a container like bottles or jars. But they're so much more than that!

A terrarium is a small plant ecosystem that's mostly self-sustaining. The plants water themselves through transpiration and condensation. 

The word terrarium comes from the Latin terra (earth) and arium (a place or receptacle). Just like an aquarium is filled with water and fish, a terrarium is filled with dirt and plants. 

Terrariums are like living art for your home. Whether you're looking for something to liven up your living space, or you're just looking for a fun DIY project, terrariums are a great option.

What are terrariums for?

Terrariums don’t really have a purpose other than being observed by people. Terrariums rose in popularity during the Victorian era when people were exploring their love for exotic plants and ferns. Ever since terrariums made it into plant lovers’ homes, they’ve stayed around. They’re perfect for people who live in apartments who don’t have room for a garden or a lot of indoor plants. 

How do Terrariums Work?

To understand how a terrarium works, you need to have a basic understanding of the water cycle. 

The warmth from the sun causes moisture to evaporate from the plants and soil, which then condenses on the cooler inside surfaces of the glass container. Just like rainfall, the water then drips/falls back down into the soil, and ta-da! The process starts again.

The soil provides nutrients for the plants, then – as is the natural order of things – those nutrients are replenished as the plants die and decompose into the soil.

Note: Our terrariums are not water tight, so you may want to seal it with a waterproofing caulk, or add water to your terrarium as needed. 

There are two types of terrariums, open and closed. We’ve talked about the function of the closed terrariums in this article, but we have info on how to care for both open and closed terrariums here.