A terrarium is like a miniature indoor greenhouse. It is a collection of small plants, and sometimes animals, growing inside a clear, sealed container. Terrariums make a great tool for teaching children how ecosystems work. A Girl Scout terrarium project can count toward earning the Daisy "Flower Garden Journey" badge, the Brownie "Try-It-Earth's Caretakers" badge and the Junior Girl Scout's "Earth Connections" badge.
Types of Terrariums
As long as the container is clear and can be sealed, a terrarium can be made using something as small as a glass jar to something as large as a fish tank. You can even make one out of a plastic soda bottle. Terrariums can also be dry or wet. A dry terrarium has just a small dish of water in it, while a wet terrarium can have either an inch or two of water filling one side or covering the entire bottom of the terrarium.
Plants and Animals for Terrariums
The best types of plants to use for terrariums are ones that do not do dwell in typical indoor settings. Dense, low-growing plants that do not get taller than about 12 inches are ideal. African violets, wintergreen, English ivy, maidenhair fern and strawberry begonias are a few examples. Cactus also grows well in terrariums. Crickets, tarantulas, chameleons, toads, salamanders and snails work well in dry terrariums, and wet terrariums make a great habitat for crayfish, newts and tree frogs.
Common materials for terrariums include soil, pea gravel, moss and horticultural charcoal. A desk lamp may be required for certain types of plants. Venus flytraps, oxalis and jade plants are a few examples of plants that require constant bright light. Certain animals, like lizards and turtles, require UVB light to process calcium for their diets.
Before building your terrarium, you will need to research the plants and animals you plan to grow. This is especially important because certain species of plants and animals have certain requirements. For example, butterflies need a constant flow of fresh air, so a screened-in terrarium would work better than a fully enclosed one. Plants, such as English Ivy, grow quickly and will need occasional pruning. Cactus grow better in sandier soil, while ferns and begonias will require a moister, richer soil.
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