You can't spell "terrarium" without "terrar"
January 25, 2008 8:43 AM   Subscribe

When it's been gray for days and it seems like spring will never come, making a terrarium (sometimes known as a Wardian case) is a good way to keep from going mad. Your own little ecosystem can be set up easily and cheaply in almost any clear-walled, enclosed container -- even a Mason jar or a two-liter Coke bottle. (Inspired by this.)
posted by fiercecupcake (21 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Oh this is so wonderful, thanks! Now I know what I'm doing this weekend. I love terrariums; I made one a few years ago in a trifle bowl but unfortunately I gave it away. This time I'm making one - or two, or three - for myself.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:48 AM on January 25, 2008

Now I'm frustrated, cause I can't find the link to a wonderful artist that made miniature terrarium gardens - they were truly works of art. Anyone know what I'm talking about? I'm positive she had a flickr set but I guess I didn't favorite it.
posted by agregoli at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2008

See also, plus this thing I found while looking for that.
posted by DU at 9:00 AM on January 25, 2008

Oh well, here's some other cool stuff:

posted by agregoli at 9:01 AM on January 25, 2008

Found her! Paula Hayes!
posted by agregoli at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2008

You can never have enough organisms in mason jars hanging around, that's for sure. Lovely post!
posted by prostyle at 9:32 AM on January 25, 2008

Great post! Anyone have a terrarium? I'd like to see some photos for more inspiration.
posted by Shebear at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2008

I have an Amish terrarium.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2008

Can I put a little bug or critter or something in it, too? I mean, little plants are okay to look, at I guess, but if there were a caterpillar or ladybug or somethin' crawling around inside, it'd be more fun to watch.
posted by notmydesk at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2008

Oh, man. I'm so making some terraria this weekend.
posted by dersins at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2008

Oh, now I know what to do with that massive glass jar that's been sitting on my counter for so long! This is great.
posted by bassjump at 10:37 AM on January 25, 2008

Notmydesk- crickets work well in terrariums, as long as you feed them a few fish food flakes and there's no standing water for them to drown in. You have to be OK with them chirping, and not let them out in your house. A caterpillar or a ladybug would be very unhappy; caterpillars are specialists and need the proper food and conditions (which can be done, if you've ever raised silk moths), a ladybug is a carnivore that's going to want to eat live bugs that will infest your plants.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2008

Our oldest (Jonas, 6) has a permanent dry-terrarium ready for any caterpillar he finds. They feed of two or three leaves he adds in (their stems in a little bowl of water to keep them from wilting), and after three or four voracious days they start to spin their coccoon. He's overseen four metamorphoses so far. Alongside that, he's also got the basil seeds sprouting in his "Antquarium", some random seeds he picked up on a countrylane currently sprouting grass in a little pot, and, his current centrepiece, a plastic container of generally murky water in which he's meticulously hatched and grown three healthy triops.
He swears by his terr-/gel-/acquaria.
posted by progosk at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

You have to be OK with them chirping, and not let them out in your house.

To underscore the importance of this statement, allow me to paint a picture for you: I had a chameleon, he was quite cool and very efficiently would dispatch any moths that I caught for him with an effortless flick of his tongue. I named him Leon, after the character from the Professional. The moths were an excellent food source, as they forced him to hunt, and were easy for me to catch (as long as I didn't mind looking like an idiot every night; waving a butterfly net in front of the lights by my garage door. I didn't, he was well fed.)

The real problem with wild moths, was that they were only available in the summer and bit of spring and fall. The rest of the year, I had to feed him crickets which I would purchase at the local pet store.

Now, crickets are easy to keep. You get a big bucket with a top that can be sealed. You poke some holes in it, throw some food and cardboard in, keep them watered, and you will have a handy supply to keep your reptile from going hungry in the cold months.

So, it all works well, except for the fact that you have to keep a bucket of bugs in your house. Noisy bugs.

More importantly, noisy bugs that are really good at escaping.

And they will escape, oh yes, they will. And then you will have to try to hunt them down. Because as much as you think you love the sound of crickets, you've probably only ever actually heard them, from a distance, outside.

Up close, they are very loud, and random enough that it will slowly eat away at your sanity until you are wandering around your house with a flashlight in one hand and some kind of flat club in the other looking into every little tiny crack, trying to find that fucking cricket that feels that 3am is a perfect time to announce to the world that it is amorous.

Then you will have to explain to your boss the next day why you look like death warmed over.

I hate crickets now.
posted by quin at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have a five gallon fish tank sitting here doing nothing +
I can't have plants due to predatory felines =
I'm gonna make a terrarium
posted by deborah at 3:43 PM on January 25, 2008

I'd love to make one for my desk at my office, but I work in a cave with almost no natural light. I'm guessing that wouldn't be the ideal environs for terraria?
posted by MrVisible at 4:57 PM on January 25, 2008

The Make:Biosphere was a fun weekend project. Mine is still going, even after about five months. Here's a little video I made about it: BioJAR.
posted by cephalopodcast at 6:04 PM on January 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hey, it's mentioned in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence that Adeline and Janey Archer cultivate ferns in Wardian cases, and now I know what Wardian cases are. Neat.
posted by orange swan at 6:24 PM on January 25, 2008

You do not want crickets, and there is no such thing as a singular cricket. They lay eggs in the dirt or the cardboard or whathaveyou, which hatch into very tiny, perfectly formed crckets, small enough to escape anything you can think up. Then they will get loose, where they will not only chirp annoyingingly, they will eat your sofa, your carpet, and your sweaters in the back of the closet.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2008

Five gallon glass water bottles (or plastic, if you can live with the optics) make wonderful terrariums. You wash the dirt off the roots gently, and use long sticks to poke the roots into the dirt. If you've never done this before, I'd start with weeping fig. It's a tiny-leafed vine that creeps around and spreads slowly, and it's available anywhere you buy houseplants.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:28 AM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

My grandmother made one years ago that developed a climate system, and got occasionally cloudy.
posted by Pants! at 2:00 PM on January 26, 2008

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