Terrariums and Vivariums

So I’ve been watching a bunch of terrarium, vivarium, paludarium, etc. building and maintenance channels on youtube over the past couple of months. I always thought they were kinda cool, but the videos I’ve been watching have been kickstarting my brain into wanting to do them myself.

My brother got me something for Christmas a few years back. It came in an unlabelled box and I really didn’t know what it was at the time. I still think it might’ve been a little vase for cut flowers.

Regardless I thought “That would make a cool terrarium”.

Without know what I was doing and totally underestimating what it would take, I put some stones and a few sticks inside, put some moss inside it and applied water periodically for a few weeks until it eventually went sterile. That was about a year or two ago.

Now with my new found interest, I thought I’d give it another go. So, this past Saturday morning I put this together.

I now have a more appropriate substrate to go with the stones and sticks. I have a small variety of plants instead of a monoculture. I have some live soil, and I have absorbent anchors for the plants to take hold.

It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m hoping for the best and that I can keep this little thing alive for a long time.

You might’ve noticed it is a hollowed out lightbulb. It was like what I imagine building a ship in a bottle to be like. It took a long time to arrange and place each item and shape it how I wanted. Place each plant and stone how I envisioned. But I’m very pleased with the outcome so far.

Anyone else into stuff like this?

No, but that does look neat!

That is very interesting to look at.

Did you have to remove a coating from the inside of the glass?
Is it sealed or open?

No it came just like that. Plain glass as far as I can tell.

It is open. The first picture shows the opening. It’s maybe 3/4" to 1" diameter. I’m considering if I might be able to cork it and make it a sealed system, but I need to make sure the moisture level is like perfect before doing that.

I find myself just staring at it fir extended periods, looking for abd watching the bugs that are inside (they all came from the roughly 2 tablespoons of soil I collected under some leaf litter next to my compost bins)

um, learn something new every day.

i never heard of those terms before; however, i have seen people with similar “plants in jars”. light bulb is really nice, a good base for plants.

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Very artistic arrangement, well done.

Thanks @artisi.

I’m happyu to report that my non-moss plants seem to be taking well and they look like they are stabilizing. The moss, I’m not sure about yet. I don’t really know how to gauge if it’s taking hold and rooting or not and it’s tough in the small container. I want better visibility, but I’m paranoid about it drying out; especially that moss I have on the top. Since it isn’t self sustaining, I added a few dead bugs in case some of those bugs that were in there were scavengers and a couple tiny pieces of diced apple for those that might need some plant matter since I can’t really identify them all. I’m keeping an eye out for s couple of isopods (pill bugs) to put in there to bolster the soil. Otherwise, after 6 days, it is still alive so a total success up to this point :sweat_smile:

Something similar to this is what I would very much like to do at some point:

but with material and plants local to me. We don’t really have a lot of stone (pine barrens in New Jersey) just lying around, so I’d have to go hunting. If I can’t find the right kind or amount of stone, I may need to make my own stone structure, which isn’t out of the question. Something that we do have and what I’d love to use is bog iron that you can find near the waterways near me. I’m going to start keeping an eye out for some of that to maybe use. I used to have a bunch of big pieces of bog iron that I collected from the woods/water when I was a kid. I wonder if those are tucked away somewhere in my parents’ house. If I can find enough of that, I’m confident I could do something like this “moss grotto”.

Great, I’ve been toying with doing something along the same lines for quite a while have collected a couple of “jars” and looking around for some moss and small plants etc., but not much available here at the moment as its summertime in Sydney and very dry which is good as it gives me a good excuse to delay starting it (procrastination) but it’s definitely on the to do list.
A few more photos as yours develops would be nice.

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It’s been going well (I think). All the plants and mosses seem to have taken root and are growing. I’ve been trying to balance the water and it seems to be going okay. My current task is bugs. I’m really trying to transplant some springtails and isopods to work the soil. As much as I like worms, I just cannot imagine that bulb is large enough for even one worm to survive for long.

I’m going to try getting some new pictures today after work.

I tried getting some pictures, but the recent work I did to it has left the glass a bit too dirty to get any good shots. I need to do a little cleanup before I want to post anything but here’s a not very good shot that at least shows how much growth there’s been.

Oh, yes, lots of new growth!

It’s ALIVE!!

Significantly better and cleaner shots. The moss is still establishing itself so it looks pretty “dirty” but it’s coming along.

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This is my next attempt. Hoping to make something for my desk at work

I sense a coming inspiration to do one myself.

The latest build for my office.

The vessel and some materials. The material is all collected from either the area around my local lake, or from my own garden/yard.

Stone base for drainage; about 1 inch

A makeshift screen to keep substrate and critters out of the drainage area

Screen in place

Dried cedar bark to add absorbency and improve the substrate. This is a local alternative to coco fiber or sphagnum moss terrarium builders might use.

Substrate added. A slight incline is added to give the illusion of more depth to the final outcome.

So you’re not under the impression this all went to plan, this is after I made the dumb mistake of forgetting to mix the bark into the soil. So I added a bunch of unmixed soil, then had to empty the entire jar and start from scratch between the last step and this picture

My stone pile centerpiece. I used a minimal amount of UV cure adhesive on the stones to make sure the pile didn’t shift while continued to build out. Adding this was really important for me because it give a lot of hiding places and dark, accessible areas for smaller insects and isopods that don’t burrow.

The first plant: a small wormwood. Hoping it doesn’t get too large, but I’ll cut it back as needed. Apparently I didn’t grab a picture of the stick before adding. I really liked how I got it to fit over and between the stones.

With some of the mosses added.
On the left hand side you can see one of the millipedes in its new home.

Opposite side

Some small stonecrop placed in areas between mosses

OK, now for a better picture. I used some of my phone camera’s ability to help the colors look more like they do in-person.

I really like this overhead shot.

I’m also happy to report I found a nice big piece of bog iron during my hunt for materials yesterday. So I’m that much closer to replicating my local version of the moss grotto I posted earlier in this thread. Just 2 to 4 more pieces that size and I’ll have the quantity I’d need to build it up.

SS, it’s looking mighty fine!

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