While you can’t time travel back to the age of the dinosaurs, you can bring a little bit of the Jurassic era to your home. A terrarium filled with tropical plants is the perfect setting in which to keep a dinosaur. Your kiddo will love tackling this project from Katie Elzer Peters’s book Miniature Gardens.
- Preserved reindeer moss
- Polished stones
- Ceramic animal figurines
- Handmade ceramic sculptures
- Plastic or resin mushrooms
- Plastic decorative swirl picks
A container that looks large when not filled with plants and soil turns tiny when “planted”. Look for accessories, including animal figurines that are less than 2 inches long for larger terrariums and ½ to 1 inch long for smaller terrariums. This container in the picture is a clear candy jar from the craft store (8 inches tall and 7 inches in diameter.)
Where the Dinosaurs Roam Terrarium Step by Step
1. Fill the bottom of the container with ½ to 1 inch of rocks.
2. Pour activated charcoal on top of the rocks until the rocks are barely covered by the charcoal.
3. Add the potting mix on top of the charcoal. Start with 1 inch of potting mix. This doesn’t seem like much, but it is easier to start with a little, than it is to add more potting mix and dig holes.
4. Place the plants. If you’re using accessories, such as the dinosaur, you can set them in among the plants to gauge the effect see if you want to move the plants around prior to planting.
5. Remove plants from pots and plant them. The bottom of the plant rootballs can be touching the rocks. Use a spoon to fill in with soil around the plants.
6. Add decorative mulches such as preserved reindeer moss or tumbled stones.
8. Water the terrarium. This is the trickiest step. It’s easy to overwater and then difficult to get the terrarium to dry out. Start by watering so that the top inch of soil (which might, in this case, be all of the soil) is about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. You can always add water.
9. Place the cover on the terrarium, set it in bright indirect light, and enjoy.
7. Position the accessories.
Care and Maintenance
Enclosed terrariums have to get some light so that the plants can photosynthesize, grow, and keep the water cycle going. Otherwise the plants will rot. You’ll know if the terrarium is getting enough light when you can see some water droplets (condensation) on the inside of the glass. If the plants start to rot or become mushy, the terrarium is too wet. Open the cover and let it dry out for a week or so. It could take a while to find the right balance of water for the system to reach equilibrium.