Small Plant Worlds: The History of Terrariums

I have this idea that in the future I will have time for another creative activity – making terrariums.  Terariums have been on the rise lately, with glass bubble containers, the use of upcycled/thrifted objects, and sweet small worlds of plants being seen in flower shops and garden stores.  Often the plants are succulents, cacti, and other plants that do not require much water.

Where did terrariums start?  The history goes back to Victorian times when people were really into ferns.   Women had extra time on their hand so they had hobbies that included making crafts, sewing, and collecting ferns. Fern collecting was seen as a serious pastime, and both men women would participate.

In 1827, Dr. Nathaniel Ward, a doctor in London was studying moths and caterpillars.  He found that some plants, including a fern,  had grown in the bottom of the jar.  This fern was healthier than the ferns in his backyard that grew in the polluted air from the local factories.

Ward discovered that plants could grow in London if they could be protected from the outside air. He created  miniature greenhouses, which he named fern cases. Today they are known as Wardian cases or terrariums.

The cases led to new plants being to be grown, including tropical and more exotic plants.   It also led to fancier cases.  In the 1860s, most Victorian houses had at least one terrarium.

Today terrariums function as fun, decorative containers that have plants that usually thrive without much care.  Some interesting studios that make interesting terrariums include  Twig Terrariums and Sprout Home.

Right now I am more in a fixing up the house/ cleaning things up mode – but I have big plans to make some small plant worlds myself in the future.

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Video – How to Make a Terrarium – by Sproutm