Terrariums are no longer just a school project your child makes with a soda bottle. They’re making a comeback as a treasure for any home or gift-giving occasion.

These glass-enclosed landscapes provide beauty, enjoyment, interest and inspiration for just about anyone who connects with nature.

The first terrariums came about in London in the early 1800s, by Nathaniel Ward who was conducting an experiment with cocoons under a glass cover.

He noticed a fern began to grow under the glass dome while the ferns in his yard were dying due to nearby factory air pollution.

These first mini greenhouses were first called “Wardian cases.” They became a common trend, even making it to the United States as early as the 1860s.

Today, we don’t worry so much about pollution but with modern conveniences such as air conditioning, which removes moisture from the air, terrariums provide a wonderful micro-climate for plants to grow indoors with little to no watering.

Before making one for your home, a few decisions need to be made.

Terrariums can be either opened or closed vessels, creating either a wet or dry environment.

Choosing the container will determine which type of plants will be most successful. Succulents, ferns, mosses, ivy, cacti, even lizards and frogs work well in all types of terrariums.

A variety of planting materials, soils, pebbles, sand and charcoal may be used, depending on which types of plants are selected.

The great thing about making your own terrarium is variety. Almost any container can be used, from jars to vases, aquariums to antique cloches, old TVs to light bulbs, the sky is the limit. Terrariums can sit, hang, decorate, illuminate and accentuate.

There’s a wealth of information available if you are interested in making your own terrarium.

There are books on making them or you can simply Google or YouTube it to learn how. Make it a family project and spend time learning with your kids or grandkids. These mini landscapes are very low maintenance and require little upkeep if done properly.

I love the simplicity of the terrarium, the fact that it was discovered by accident, and it is one more way of bringing the outdoors in. I hope you’ll give some thought to creating a terrarium treasure of your own.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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