(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 25, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
Terrariums can come in many shapes and sizes. In a previous article, I used an old aquarium as an example. Here I will show other types of containers that are suitable to use, that don't require their own table or shelf. Basically, the same ingredients are needed, a layer of gravel for drainage, a bit of activated charcoal, sphagnum moss and soil. Many people like to put a layer of sphagnum on the top as well for these. With the small openings found on some of these it may be neccessary to use a piece of paper rolled into a cone to get the gravel and soil in without messing up the sides of your jar. Chop sticks and kitchen tongs work for planting if you can't get your hand in.
Plastic salad bowls. You can generally acquire these at any fast food restaurant that sells salads. They even come with a lid. You can put holes in the lid to help control humidity. Most places would gladly part with a few, or, you can go the healthy route and buy the salad for yourself and then recycle the container into a mini paradise. You can also find them here. The pretty one to the left was created by our own gessiegail.
Believe it or not, even a wineglass can be a suitable growing environment. Tiny Sinningias, Mini African Violets and even a few carnivorous plants such as Venus Flytrap(Dionaea muscipula) and Pinguicula would be good candidates for this container...Photo on the right courtesy of Va_Wild_Rose.
The photo on the left is a yogurt container, credit to Keyring. This has a narrow mouth so really doesn't need a lid. You could cover with plastic wrap if the soil is drying out too quickly.
Any kind of small container will work, glass cookie jars, used jam jars, large candle holders. Dollar stores and yard sales are chock full of unique little jars that can be used. As with the larger versions, direct sun should be avoided and watering should be done carefully, from every few weeks to almost 3 months. The plants will create their own micro climate. Special attention must be paid to the atmosphere in your mini terrarium. Adjust the cover if the sides are steaming up too much, this can lead to rot. Any rotting leaves should be immediately removed to prevent the rot from spreading. Mini Ferns, Mini Begonias, creeping Ficus, are other suitable plants for these smaller containers.
Why not try a few herbs? Herbs? Did she say herbs? I think our friend Lee Anne has lost it, you are probably thinking. Herbs need sun, and sun fries little terrarium plants. This is true...but...there are wonderful little spot grow lights on the market these days. You can buy grow bulbs to fit in almost any lamp, be it desk or table top.There are also many mini Herbs available, Woolly Thyme, Creeping Thyme, Basil, Corsican Mint, Creeping Savory to name a few. Of course you will be pinching these for use in cooking so they will stay small.
You can also add a decorative touch. Little ceramic frogs, toads, a pretty rock, all can be placed in with the plants. Maybe tie a lace ribbon around the rim or stem of the jar. A butterfly or bird that are used for decorating gifts would be pretty in there. Let your imagination wander. Have fun with it!!
Thanks to Plantladylin for the use of her photo at the start of this article.