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Home > Begonian > Volume 69 (November/December 2002)

Growing Terrariums
by Leora Fuentes

I follow Millie Thompson's recipe for preparing the sphagnum moss for the terrariums I grow. Pour boiling water onto the long fiber sphagnum moss. When it is cool, I add a couple of drops of Super Thrive and let it soak for awhile. Then I wring out as much water as I can and cut the moss into small pieces. Once that is done, I add some perlite (whatever amount looks right to me). At this point I'll leave the moss in a bucket for several days to allow it to dry further. I turn it every day until I see enough moisture has evaporated. I do this because it may look dry enough, but it is not and then your plant may rot. It is a lot easier to add additional water as needed.

When I am ready to prepare a terrarium I put some horticultural charcoal in the the bottom and add the sphagnum. Once the terrarium is planted I do not add water at that time. I'll watch for condensation on the glass or feel the mixture.

When I do water, I do so with a very light fertilizer. I am not brand specific. Whatever I have, I use.

Most of my plants are under fluorescent lights for 12 hours a day. If I see a good buy for grow lights, I'll purchase them. Most of the time I use one cool white and one warm white bulb. Some of my plants are about 4 inches from the lights and some are approximately 12 inches. I experiment with them by moving them to different locations to see where they are happiest.

I also have several in a north facing window ‑B. rajah, B. pavonina, and B. 'Mumtaz'. They are quite happy there. Since B. versicolor does not like the heat it is sitting on the floor next to the light cart during the summer.

I try to change the sphagnum mixture once a year.

I think the hardest part of growing terrariums is finding the appropriate container. If you are near a party store, you can purchase bowls used for catering purposes and invert one on top of the other. Some of the craft stores also have glass bubbles. You can also purchase clear glass cookie jars at Walmart (where they are the most reasonable). Some people find containers at garage sales.

B. 'Millie Thompson'

Above is Leora's B. 'Millie Thompson' and below is her B. luzonensis

B. luzonesis

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