The other day, The Dad came home with a treat for the kids: little bottles of Coca-cola shaped like soccer balls.
They are collectible bottles in honour of the World Cup soccer tournament (or so I’m told – I don’t follow soccer). The kids squealed with delight at the unexpected treat, and I squealed with delight at the shape of the bottles. They were perfect… for this:
A terrarium. A terrarium is an enclosed ecosystem that requires very little maintenance, just a little watering once in a while. And, it’s fun to grow.
So with the bottles now empty and a friend of B’s along for extra fun, we got started.
After washing out the bottle, I used a sharp knife to cut a slit in the plastic wrapper covering the bottle so I could peel it off to reveal the clear plastic bottle underneath.
We placed a layer of small rocks to the bottom, enough to cover the bottom and provide drainage for the soil. We used aquarium rocks.
Next, we added a layer of activated charcoal to help with drainage and filter the air, soil, and water. Some people add a layer of dried moss or cotton or some other media to keep the soil out of the rocks, but we didn’t bother.
For soil, we mixed top soil, compost, and peat moss. We put about an inch of soil on top of the rocks and charcoal. A rolled up piece of paper made a handy funnel, though we still got dirt all over the counter during this operation.
Finally, we added some little plants. Caution: because these are such tiny terrariums, you really do want to choose small plants. We planted two varieties of moss, one that just barely covers the dirt and grows about a millimetre in height, and another that grows to about 3 cm high and is sort of grassy-like. We also added a sedum, a variety of stonecrop, which is definitely too large for the terrarium but is so slow growing that it should be fine in there for quite a while. By the time it is too large and has to be transplanted into the garden, the mosses will be well enough established that the terrarium won’t look empty.
To get the plants in the terrarium, we took small pieces of moss and put them in using a pair of chopsticks. The girls loved poking the moss down into the soil with chopsticks.
Finally, we sprayed the terrariums with water using the plant mister, and put the caps on.
If you make one, make sure you put it in a bright location but not in direct sunlight or you’ll just cook the mosses. The closed container will act as a mini-greenhouse, keeping the plants warm and moist, but it will also magnify the heat from any sun that lands on it.
From what I’ve read, the terrarium will only need to be watered every two or three weeks as the bottle really does act like a little ecosystem, with water evaporating, condensing on the surface, and running back down to moisten the soil.
Want to see more? Check out the amazing terrariums of Paula Hayes. They’re absolutely beautiful.