We all make mistakes when we are doing something for the first time. Terrariums are not particularly tricky to build. However, we have rounded up the most common beginner mistakes at our workshop to spare you the heartache and trouble of having to correct them!
1. Leaving insufficient free soil space around the plant stem
When it comes to decorating the terrarium, people tend to get overly excited and want to go all out with their colourful sand and figurines. We would usually tell you to leave about 1-2cm radius around the stem of your plant and this is for a good reason. Should the sand cover the soil surrounding the leaf, the sand would end up absorbing the water instead of the roots of the plant. In the long run, your plant may not survive due to the dehydration.
2. Placing the plant under direct sunlight
We all probably learnt in school that plants require sunlight to make food. But those are plants are not enclosed. Placing a closed terrarium under direct sunlight would cause the glass to heat up and may even overheat the plants! Yes, it is quite serious especially since the sun rays in Singapore are capable of causing temperatures to rise rather quickly. Hence, we usually advise our workshop participants that placing their terrariums under man-made light is sufficient for the plant. If the terrariums are kept in air-conditioned environments, you need not worry about overheating.
3. Overwatering your terrarium
If you’re doing your terrarium making workshop with The Fun Empire, our facilitators would let you know that your plant has been watered before the workshop. You would also learn that you only need to water your newly made terrarium about every 2 weeks or so (this varies and you can look at the amount of condensation on the glass as a gauge). If you see that That means, you do not need to water your terrarium immediately after it is done! First-timers with terrariums are more likely to overwater. However, do refrain from doing so as it could really drown the already small-sized plant.
4. Using too much strength to compress little dried moss and the soil
We do tell participants to compress the soil to ensure that the empty spaces in between are filled up. However, when I sat in for my previous visit, I noticed that some participants take this very seriously and overexert their force. As such, this makes it tough for participants to fit their plant in later as the soil would be too compact. It becomes harder to make a small opening to fit in the roots of the plant which is needed to hold the plant upright in the terrarium.
5. Using too much soil – that it covers the leaves of the plant
Some participants think that the more soil they use, the better it will be for the plant. While there may be more nutrients, the soils tend to cover the leaves of the plant. This would make it counterproductive for growth as the chlorophyll would not be able to engage in photosynthesis. That being said, do take note to avoid letting the soil reach a height around the leaves. A good practice would also be to push the soil closer to the stem.
6. Adding fertilisers
This may sound counterintuitive for most gardeners. Don’t you want your plant to get sufficient nutrients? Well, one of the best ways to maintain and keep a terrarium is to make sure it does not suddenly undergo a growth spurt. Otherwise, you may find that it becomes harder to maintain the plant! Granted, the choice of the plant would have been the kind to not grow very much. However, with the use of fertilisers, there is a chance that the plant would grow rapidly and this makes it high maintenance for you! Hence, we usually advise against adding fertilisers to your terrarium plant if you want to keep it around for long!