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How To Care For a Terrarium

A terrarium is a miniature ecosystem. Each one is very sensitive to watering and will require your care and attention, especially right after you take it home. Depending on the terrarium, it might need water every couple days or every couple weeks. Remember: it’s better to underwater your terrarium than to overwater it.

Steps to Keeping Your Terrarium Happy:

1. When to Water 

Water when you see signs of dryness in the moss, soil, or plants. The moss and soil in your terrarium should be visibly moist, but not soaking wet. Watch for the moss becoming pale in color and shriveling slightly–that means it’s time to water. If your terrarium doesn’t include moss, watch for the plants looking shriveled, droopy, or crispy–that means it’s time to water.

2. How to Water 

We recommend using a spray bottle, turkey baster, or syringe to control the amount of water you give your terrarium. 

If your terrarium contains moss, water the moss rather than the plants. Moss helps retain humidity and should be given a good soak each time you water. If your terrarium does not contain moss, water lightly until you see the water start to drip down toward the bottom layers of the terrarium, then stop watering. 

3. Closed Terrariums 

If your terrarium is closed (if it has a well-sealing lid), it will require a little extra care. Every time you water it, let it sit open for at least 30 minutes before putting the lid on. Never put the lid back on your terrarium when the leaves of the plant(s) are still wet–this can lead to rot and mold.

As you are getting to know your closed terrarium’s watering needs, you will need to air it out every couple days by leaving the lid off for at least 30 minutes. This allows excess water to evaporate out. Anytime you see fog or drops of water condensed on the sides of the glass, it’s a good idea to air it out. Depending on how tightly your terrarium is sealed, it may go days, weeks, or even months before needing to be watered—so make sure it’s getting fresh air in the meantime! 

4. Problems 

The most common problems you will encounter are rotting (dark, soggy leaves or stems) and molding (white fuzz). These are signs of overwatering. If rot appears, remove the rotting leaves, leave the top off for a few days, then increase the amount of time between waterings. If mold appears, stop watering and place in a sunnier location to dry out for a few days. You can also spray mold with a mild alcohol solution to kill it–just try to avoid the leaves of the plant(s). Mold usually only occurs when soil is too soaked or terrarium is sealed too tightly. 

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