The concept of gardening under glass is certainly not a new one.

4 styles of wardian cases. Image courtesy of creative commons

When the grandfather of terrariums, Nathaniel Ward, a physician and hobby entomologist, made his accidental discovery in 1829, little did he know the impact it would have on our modern world. Ward had collected an insect pupa and plant material in a closed glass container. Months later he discovered that the plants were not only alive but thriving. Recognizing that the glass created a protective, self-sustaining environment, he designed and commissioned sealed boxes made of glass and wood. He called his invention a Wardian Case, named after himself of course.

In the 1970s and most recently we have seen a resurgence in terrarium gardening. The concept has evolved over the years and today we have several options for gardening under glass.

Closed or true terrariums, including cloches, apothecary jars, vintage bottles etc. are ideal for woodland and rain forest plants like ferns, orchids, polka dot, and nerve plants, that thrive in humid environments and prefer bright indirect light. The glass acts as “babysitter” allowing you to showcase your creativity, add a touch of whimsy and beauty to your space while requiring very little in terms of maintenance.

A balanced terrarium with a drainage layer, well draining soil and the right plants create a mini, self-sustaining ecosystem where the water cycle is in full effect complete with evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Terrariums are the perfect choice for individuals who want to enjoy nature indoors but think that they are horticulturally challenged, are too busy, have curious pets, or live in smaller spaces. Adding a bit of nature and beauty to your indoor space is “no fuss” with terrariums. There is no time like the present to start “terraring” it up!