glass case with drainage...can I use it?

idafrances(4)March 28, 2010

I have a cute rectangle glass case with a top that folds down. It isn't completely sealed (it's about 10x15" and there are four panes of glass that slide into place), and I am wondering if I can still use this as a terrarium? I want to keep plants such as ferns, baby tears, etc in this case. Any ideas, hints, etc?

I imagine that some water will drain out, but I am dying to use this as a terrarium. Maybe I should find a way to seal it?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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I am having trouble seeing in my mind what it looks like. Can you supply a photo?


    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:56PM
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Thanks! Here is a link, I hope that it works!

Here is a link that might be useful: terrarium

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 4:52PM
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Hi Ida,

Wow, that's a real nice display case! I can see why you would want to use it for something like a terrarium. I guess the first question is. If you seal it would you ever want to be able to take it apart again? If the answer is no, then you could sealed it with silicone. If you don't want to seal it permanently then I would suggest using some sort of puddy or school clay to temporarily seal it.

Are you going to put a base on the bottom, a screen to keep the potting medium from flowing into the base, and potting medium on top of that? If you're going to go that route then I think it is important that you seal up the case or seal it up beyond the soil level. If you're just going to put a potted plant in there I don't see any reason to completely seal it up. I'm not sure which way you're going to go.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 6:14PM
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Thanks so much for your help, Larry.

Do you mean seal the bottom where the glass panels meet the metal bottom (or up the sides? or both?)... I'm open to that idea. I was just going to put rocks on the bottom, then charcoal, and soil.

We just have regular caulk here, but I can run to the hardware store to get silicone caulk. I bought plants today and I'm so excited to plant them!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Hello Ida,

I would use straight silicone. Caulk most likely has chemicals in it that could be toxic to the plants. Silicone is inert and is safe for plants. It's even safe for tropical fish. So my idea of using puddy before was not a good one.

I would seal up the bottom of the terrarium and go up the sides a little bit further than the top of the soil. Actually if it were mine, I would seal it all the way to the top of the terrarium. That would keep any condensation from seeping out the sides and running down onto the table.

Your idea of using rocks, charcoal and soil is a good one. I would suggest though that you put a divider in between the soil and the charcoal and rock base. This keeps the soil from filtering down into the rocks and basically making the rocks nonfunctional for what you want them to be. That is, a catchall for any extra water you use for watering the soil. I got my supplies from Black Jungle and bought the divider from them also. The next best thing is to get some nylon screen. The kind you would put on a screen for a house window. You can get it pretty inexpensively at Home Depot. I have some pictures that I put in a website once that shows the base and the divider and soil. I hope this gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.

So you've already bought the plants. How fun! I think that container is going to make a great little terrarium.


Here are those photos:

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:06PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I would just line the bottom with a single piece of plastic wrap or plastic bag. Terrariums need annual or bi-annual maintenance and to make a permanent seal will just make it harder to clean the glass. Just keep a towel under it in case of any drips. Use a 4-2-1 mixture of potting soil/perlite/sand.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:20PM
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Sounds like you have figured it out then. I would love to see pictures when you are finished!

Have fun,


    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Hi Ida,

I was wondering how that terrarium is coming along.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Thanks for your help, Larry and Taz! I love the photos your posted!

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have this pattern of researching things intensely, then just doing my own thing because I get too itchy waiting. Hence, finishing my terrarium without any sealing at all. I had the plants, the soil, the charcoal, I created my own gravel (picked rocks out of yard, and boiled them :) I just couldn't wait any longer! Forgive me!

I ended up with some baby's tears, a fern, and two flowering plants. I doubt the cyclamen will last very long, so I'll maybe replace it with a miniature orchid if I need to. I am noticing that there is no condensation build up, so sealing it better might have been a good idea. I will see how this goes, and start at square one if I need to!

I will post some pictures soon, our camera battery is currently recharging.

Thanks again for your help! I'll be back!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 10:46PM
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Hi Ida,

No need to be forgiven. This is your project and you can do whatever you want. My advice is always free. That is, you don't have to take it. I am sure that you will have a nice terrarium and am looking forward to seeing what you did!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 1:05AM
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