Frequently Asked Questions
Greenery NYC terrariums are built to last, as long as they are maintained properly. Providing the right lighting requirements and a regular watering schedule is key to keeping your terrarium happy and healthy. As every terrarium is its own unique eco-system, everyone’s home is different as well. Finding a baseline for your terrarium as it exists in your space will insure its success. This means paying close attention to its needs when you take it home, and then setting up a regular, appropriate care plan.
Since every home has different heating and cooling systems, it is important to monitor the soil in your pre-watered terrarium when you bring it into your space. Your terrarium is pre-watered upon purchase. Touch the soil and feel how moist it is. By frequently checking as time passes, figure out how many days it takes for your terrarium to dry in your space. When it feels dry, it’s time to water.
These terrariums require infrequent, but regular watering. Depending on the heat in your home, you will water your desert terrarium every 2-3 weeks. Start by checking the soil. Is it completely dry? When it is, focus your watering on the roots of each plant, making sure to lightly saturate the soil around that plant without flooding the terrain. Remember, there is no drainage in a terrarium, so too much water can rot and kill cacti and succulents.
These types of terrariums like moisture and absorb water faster than a desert terrarium. Depending on the heat in your home, you will be watering your terrarium every week to every week and a half. Make sure the soil is reasonably dry, check each plant for moisture and water the roots evenly. Over watering can lead to root rot. Be very calibrated and mindful in your watering plan.
Different plants need different qualities of light. Desert terrariums need least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight, like their natural desert environment. These terrariums do well in an unobstructed south or west-facing window. Woodland terrariums like indirect filtered bright light, much like their natural environment under the forest canopy. Make sure that the terrarium is placed in a bright spot out of the rays of the sun. An eastern or northern exposure is great. Woodland terrariums need natural light, so a shadowy position in your home will not serve your terrarium.
Direct light is of the rays of the sun touching the leaves of the plant. Most “full sun”plants need the sun shining on them for 5-6 hours a day. Unobstructed southern and western exposures are the most constant and warmest sources of direct light.
Indirect light is filtered or ambient light. This could be full sun with a sheer in front of it. This could be a bright room where rays of light are refracted, and thus, ambient. Plants that require indirect light need to be out of the rays of the sun, yet not in full shadow. Northern and eastern exposures are the most gentle and cool light, and are usually great for indirect light terrariums.
Yes. Plants have very sensitive nervous systems. Never place a woodland terrarium near or on a radiator or air conditioner. Think before placing a desert terrarium near a very drafty or icy window. Finding the correct placement for your terrarium is key to its success.
Touch the soil. Is it moist to the touch, yet not muddy or soggy? The feel should be that of a damp sponge. Monitor the soil when you first bring your terrarium home to understand how long it takes for the terrarium to dry. Set your watering schedule accordingly. The frequency of watering can change depending on season, since interior heat effects how often terrariums may need a drink.
Condensation usually signals excess water in the terrarium. If your terrarium is covered,simply open the lid until the condensation disappears. If you have an open terrarium,wipe the glass out with a paper towel.
Yes. Tillandsias, or air plants, are rootless specimens that take in water through their leaves. They love to be misted and soaked. Once a week, take the air plant out of your terrarium and soak it in a bath of luke-warm water for about 20 minutes. Take the air plant out, shake the excess water out of the leaves, and let it dry on a paper towel or dish rack. When it is completely dry, place it back in the terrarium. This keeps any moisture from being trapped in the leaves and rotting the plant once inside the glass enclosure.
Water the plants separately. Take the air plant out of the terrarium and soak. See “Do I need to water my air plant?” for instructions. Water your terrarium plants accordingly. When the air plant is dry, place it back in the terrarium. Keep in mind that air plants need to be watered more frequently (usually once a week) than your desert terrarium.
This is a sign that you are over-watering your terrarium. Carefully clean the mold off the leaves or soil and remove it from the terrarium. Is the terrarium getting enough natural light? Move it to a brighter area (although out of the rays of the sun, if it is a woodland terrarium). Refrain from watering the terrarium until the soil dries. Keep a close eye on how long this takes. Once the terrarium needs a drink, focus you watering on each plant and make sure not to flood or over-saturate the terrain. Now, let the terrarium soil dry to the touch and recalibrate your watering schedule to reflect this drying time.
The leaves on some of the plants in my terrarium are yellow and/or mushy to the touch. What does this mean and what should I do?
This is a sign that you are over-watering your terrarium. Carefully remove the leaves from the plant with fingers or pruning scissors. Make sure that all compromised or dead plant matter is taken out of the terrarium. Is the soil of the terrarium soaked or over-saturated? Refrain from watering the terrarium until the soil dries. Keep a close eye on how long this takes. Once the terrarium needs a drink, focus you watering on each plant and make sure not to flood or over-saturate the terrain. Now, let the terrarium soil dry to the touch and recalibrate your watering schedule to reflect this drying time.
This is a sign that your terrarium is under-watered. Carefully remove the leaves from the plant with fingers or pruning scissors. Make sure that all compromised or dead plant matter is taken out of the terrarium. Make sure to water the terrarium evenly, watering each plant at the roots, and making sure not to flood or over-water the terrain. Now let the soil dry to the touch and monitor how many days it takes for this to happen. Set a watering schedule for your terrarium and stick to it. Terrariums thrive on a regular and appropriate watering plan.
These flies are fungus gnats, a totally common and solvable problem among indoor plants. Don’t worry! Your terrarium is not doomed. The presence of fungus gnats is a sign that you are over-watering your terrarium. Is the terrarium getting enough natural light? Move it to a brighter area (although out of the rays of the sun, if it is a woodland terrarium) with good ventilation. Refrain from watering the terrarium until the soil dries completely without compromising the welfare of the specimens. The flies should disappear after this drying period. Now, make sure that the terrarium is in a bright, well-ventilated area on a care schedule that lets the soil dry to the touch between watering.
Flowing plants only bloom for periods of time in nature. Plants spending and shedding their flowers is a very natural cycle and does not mean that your plant has been compromised. Orchids and violets bloom and then spend their flowering after about a month or so. Once the flowers spend, remove the dried bloom from the terrarium. On orchids, you should prune the stem down to leaves of the plant. Take care of the plant as you have been and it should flower again. Make sure that the terrarium is in bright, indirect light for optimum re-bloom conditions. You can also buy specific orchid or violet fertilizers to stimulate re-bloom. Be careful to follow directs on these products so you don’t overfeed and kill the plant.
Muscari blooms come from bulbs that are forced indoors and only flower once. They are a specialty plant that gives us fragrance and color in the winter months but are entirely ephemeral. Once your muscari flowers spend themselves, it’s time to rethink your terrarium. Remove the spent bulbs and plant a new, moisture loving plants, like a ferns, babytears, or fittonias.
Woodland terrarium plants love to be misted. However, if you detect yellowing leaves or condensation build-up, hold off on misting. Desert terrariums do not need to be misted. Misting should never be a substitute for watering the soil, as plants primarily take in their nutrients through their roots. Make sure your terrarium is on a regular watering scheduling with focused watering to the roots of each plant in your terrarium.
You can prune them. Use a pair of pruning scissors to delicately shape the plants that have become too tall or unruly. This will not hurt them at all. Over time, some plants may outgrow their terrarium home. You can gently remove them, and replant them in a bigger pot. Replace the spot in your terrarium with another baby plant, or let the remaining plants thrive.
Yes. Lamplight does not have the same nurturing qualities as natural light. Most all living things need the sun to be happy and healthy. Placing your terrarium under a regular indoor light bulb is not a substitute to moving your terrarium to a brighter spot in your home (if issues of pests, over-watering, or lack of blooms arise). If you are having a hard time maintaining an appropriate amount of natural light for your terrarium, a specialty grow light can be used to supplement. Grow lights can be found at hardware stores or online.
Woodland Plants like food. Once every six weeks dilute one tablespoon liquid seaweed or other organic fertilizer in your watering can. Desert plants, however, do not need supplemental fertilization. Nor do carnivorous plants, as their nutrition comes exclusively from eating insects. Orchids and violets can be given specialized fertilizers that can be found at any hardware store. Also take into account that pruning the spent blooms on these plant begins their re-blooming process. Make sure not to over-feed plants. Over doing fertilization can lead to plant death. Read and follow directions on plant food closely. Also, make sure to adhere to the fertilizing schedule outlined for the product.
Carnivorous plants need to eat live or freshly killed insects to survive. Refrain from fertilizing the plant, as nothing but insect prey will do for these specimens. Carnivorous plants only need to eat one insect a month to nourish the whole plant. Never give a carnivorous plant an old, dry insect. These are empty calories for these plants. It takes energy away from the plant to close its leaves and digest, so never trigger the “mouths” without providing freshly killed or live prey. Always keep carnivorous plants well watered (using distilled water) and in bright, direct sunlight.
It is normal for flytraps and pitchers to turn black and dry after eating. It is not a sign of a problem; as one trap goes black, another will grow. Only prune off leaves that are totally dried and dark. Brown speckles may indicate that the leaf is eating, not spent. Carnivorous terrariums like to stay moist and prefer filtered or bottled water. Some of the minerals in regular tap water (like fluoride) can contribute to browning or dying leaves. An easy way to distill water is to set aside a watering can of water that has been sitting for a few days. This gives the minerals a chance to settle on the bottom of the can. Carnivorous plants thrive in bright, direct sunlight. Be sure to put your carnivorous plants in a nice sunny spot that gets at least 5 to 6 hours of sun a day and to keep the terrarium consistently moist.
WHICH TERRARIUM IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Desert terrariums feature drought tolerant cacti and succulents and thrive in sunny, dry areas. They thrive on windowsills and in bright rooms. They require water every 2 – 3 weeks. Learn More about desert terrarium care.
Woodland terrariums feature ferns and moss and thrive on moisture and filtered or indirect light. They are the best choice for a low-light location and require water every 1 – 2 weeks. Learn More about woodland terrarium care.
Orchid terrariums prefer indirect light and very little water. The flower will last up to a month after delivery. After the flower is spent, you can prune your orchid to encourage more flowers. Learn More about orchid terrarium care.
Carnivorous terrariums survive primarily on insect prey, but need to be kept moist and put in bright light to thrive. They require water once a week and thrive in a sun-filed kitchen with the occiasinal fruit fly problem. Learn More about carnivorous terrarium care.
Air Plant terrariums prefer indirect light and like to be misted weekly. They are the easiest terrarium to care for. Learn More about air plant terrarium care.