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Would your kids love to grow their own plant ecosystems at home? Help them build this DIY terrarium kit for kids. Another great garden activity for kids.
A terrarium is a miniature garden grown inside of a covered container. It’s low maintenance and easy to make. Kids can learn about life cycles, water cycles, evaporation, and precipitation.
A terrarium is like an aquarium but for plants instead of fish. They are simple to make. You may even have everything you need around the house.
How to make a terrarium
The first thing you need to do to build your own terrarium is to choose plants. They all need to be the same type of plant. We used plants we had around the house. Succulents make great plants for terrariums. If you choose a succulent, you need all succulents. If you choose tropical plants, you need all tropicals. They have to have the same requirements.
Some great succulents include:
- Hen and chicks
- Aloe vera
- Tropical plants that will work include:
- Spider plants
- Pink polka dot
- Peace lilly
- Swedish Ivy
- African violets
- Air plants
Next, you’ll need the rest of your supplies. When there is light and heat, water inside the terrarium evaporates through the soil. Since the environment is sealed, the water vapor hits the side of the container creating condensation. As it accumulates, it makes precipitation down the sides of the container back into the soil instead of evaporating into the air.
So what do we need:
An enclosed container. You can use a recycled drink container, a jar, or whatever you have with a lid. We used mason jars. You can also use a fishbowl with something on top such as a small plate to hold in moisture.
- Pea gravel or small rocks
- Activated charcoal to control the growth of fungi is optional
If you are making a terrarium out of tropical plants, use potting soil. If you are using succulents, buy cactus potting soil for best results
- Clean the container well and dry completely.
- Add 1 ½ inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.
- If you want to use charcoal, add a half an inch layer here.
- Fill the container about half full of soil. Make sure there’s enough room for your plants on top.
- Remove the plants from their pots and plant in the soil.
- Add a few tablespoons of water to the soil.
- You can add a few small decorations such as shells or beads if you’d like.
- Replace lid.
If you make your terrarium with air plants, don’t add any soil, just the gravel and make sure there is no water at the top of the gravel. Air plant roots can’t tolerate any moisture, only the leaves can.
Watch it closely for a few days and make sure the sides get misty occasionally. If it’s too wet, leave the top off for a day or a half-day. If there are no misty sides, add another tablespoon of water. Once you get it balanced, you’ll only need to check on it once in a while.
Prune the plants if they get big enough to touch the sides. Occasionally add more water if needed. Here is more information on how to care for a succulent properly.
Terrariums are so cute and you’re going to love watching these plants grow. The kids are going to learn from the process too. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you have trouble keeping your succulents alive, check out why is my succulent dying and find some troubleshooting ideas.
For garden activities for toddlers, check this out.