My sons and I have wanted to make a terrarium for some time now and finally did about two weeks ago. This was such a fun project --that totally didn’t go the way we planned. My vision was to create a beautiful, landscaped masterpiece full of tropical plants but the final results visually were just ok. But what we didn’t accomplish in beauty, we more than made up for in the lessons we learned about plants, how terrariums work and this project was an awesomely fun learning experience. My photos aren't great, but here's the story of how we (accidentally) built a carnivorous terrarium.
The first issue that I had was finding suitable plants. It is cold here and Georgia and most of the plants that work well in a terrarium environment just weren't plentiful at the local nurseries I visited. However, along with some other small plants, I found a cute little Venus Flytrap at Lowe's and bought it on a whim.
We assembled all our supplies. Some of the plants that I bought were just two big to fit in our selected container. We watched several how-to videos on YouTube on terrariums. I realized that there was no ‘right’ way to create one, and everyone had slight variations on their steps and the supplies that they used.
Time to get started. We first poured a layer of pebbles, followed by a layer of sphagnum moss and then a thin layer of activated charcoal. The moss and pebbles help with drainage. The charcoal helps absorb older. Finally, we covered the pebbles, sphagum moss and charcoal with a layer of soil. We found some moss from our yard and we placed it in our terrarium. Then, in went the Flytrap plant.
Ironically the next day my son went on a field trip to a nature preserve, and his very cool teacher gave him a Sundew plant, which we planted that evening. Sundews are also carnivorous.
What we learned. Venus Flytraps are native to N. America only in the Wilmington, North Caroline area. They have redundant trigger mechanism that must be touched twice in succession in order for theplant to close. They thrive on insects and spiders but can go months without ‘eating’ them. The Sundew on the other hand, has sticky tentacles that will trap small insects. There are a variety of species and they can be found throughout N. America and the world.
The closed lid of the Terrarium allows the plants to thrive with minimal watering. We talked a lot about condensation and the water cycle. Because our terrarium is carnivorous, we’ll have to feed the plants occasionally with insects. Other than that, we will just mist the leaves with water once a week or so.
My hat goes off to all the wonderful Etsy sellers making terrariums, my original source of inspiration. I see I have a ways to go in making my terrarium look like a work of art. However, we’ve already started gathering plants and a vase for our next project.