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Southern Illinoisan (Newspaper) - July 7, 1974, Carbondale, Illinois Create greenhouse in a fish bowl By Kathie Pratt Ot The Southern Illinoisan Ever since the early 19th century when Nathanial A Ward an English botanist discovered plant life in sealed bottles stored in his basement indoor terrariums have been popular among plant lovers Although keeping plants in a terrarium requires a cer tain amount of knowledge about moisture and soil con ditions making a terrarium is relatively easy and inex pensive Glass Jish bowls bottles jugs and plastic cubes are among the itahy containers in which a terrarium can thrive There are basically three steps in making a terrarium 1 Laying amixture of sterile soil peat moss1 vermiculite volcanic ash and charcoal in the bottom of the bowl 2 Moistening the soil with a atomizer and 3 Put ting in the decorations Since the terrarium tends to provide a greenhouse ef fect plants should be chosen carefully Murphysboro flor ist Thomas Ihle who has made more than 1000 terrar iums said there are basical ly two types of terrarium plant groups the foliage plant terrarium and the succulent and cactus plant terrarium Foliage plant terrpriums which include small plants like miniature palms baby tears ferms podocarpus and dracena thrive in a re latively moist environment Terrariumsmade with these plants can be left covered all the time and require little if any watering Dry plant terrariums con taining succulent plants like the jadepanda kalanchqe and cactus plants require al most no water once the soil is allowed to dry out and are better left uncovered Sincethe greenhouse atmos phere in terrariums encour ages the growth of bacteria care should be taken to make sure no insects or worms are in the soil This is why it is important to use a sterile soil which can be purchased almost anywhere Some terrarium fanciers like to make the terrarium in layers with the soil on the bottom charcoal chips next peat moss as the third layer and drainage material on top v Ihle said he prefers to mix all the materials together and suggests that the mixture con tain 40 per cent sterile soil and a mixture either ready made or assembled containing 35 per cent peat moss 5 per cent vermiculite 5 per cent pearlite volcanic ash and 10 per cent hor i I do no1 recommend using household charcoal that is us ed in charcoal firesbecause this is treated to produce an instant flame and may be da maging to the plants Ihle said The soil depth varies from 1 to 3 inches depending on the depth of the terrarium bowl Terrariums should not re ceive direct sunlight or direct heat and can be put in a dark room with a fluorescent strip as a light source or under a lamp that is on at least 15 hours a day The only exception to this is the cactus terrarium or succulent plant terrarium which can be displayed in direct sunlight mornings only Once youve got theterrar ium glowing and healthy car ing for the plants involves watering when theyre dry and pruning when they get too large Np expert green thumb is requiredIhle said covered containers retain the moisture given off by the plants and the mois ture is fed back tothe soil where itcan be absorbed light sprinkleof wa ter every two orthreeweeks is all thats needed If the glass fogs up as the moisture condenses on the inside simply remove the coy er until the glass clears up Ihle also suggest terrar ium covers be removed for 24 hours every three weeks to allow fresh air to enter Dry plant terrariums require only about one spoon of waterevery two weeks If you buy a terrariuiri al ready made then it will need to be rebalanced when you take it home To rebalance your new terrarium leave the top off for the first 24 hours Ihle said A properly balanced ter rariunv will develop just a veryfine mist or haze on the top or sides once every three or this is normaf and necessary due to the continuous recycling of said if a heavy mist or large drops ofwater per sist in forming this indicates excess moisture Simply con tiriue the balancing procedure if this condition occurs until the terrarium only develops a fine mist every few days The mostimportant thing to remember in caring for terrariums isthat is the foremost ene my of any terrarium Ihle said Terrariums can be made in a number of different sized glasi bowk bottles jugs or plastic Photos by Jack Thomas Ihle Murphysboro florist prunes plants in aterrarium Southern Illirioisari SUNDAY JULY 7 1974 Seventeen Paper towel wr around a bottle brush can be used te clean terrariums Designing a waterfall environment is possible even in a regular fish bow terrarium Decorative ornaments create a rustic atmosphere hi ttrrarium I 1 ;