Basic Terrarium Care
(*Scroll down for Kokedama care*)
Terrariums are generally very easy to maintain, making them perfect for anyone who's "not a plant person." And with the proper care terrariums can last indefinitely - at least until they outgrow their containers. We plant our terrariums with plenty of room to grow so you can enjoy them for a few years before they need to be thinned out or repotted.
Overall Light and Water Requirements
Succulents in open terrariums like bright, indirect light and are incredibly drought-tolerant so they require minimal water.
The tropical plants in closed terrariums can thrive with a bit less light and eventually 'water themselves' after an initial adjustment period.
Use dechlorinated water for both types of terrarium. This is critical for closed terrariums, but it can make a big difference for succulents too. Distilled water (found at most grocery stores) and rainwater are both great. In a pinch, boiling and cooling tap water works though it's not the best long term solution.
All our terrariums include a drainage layer of course sand and/or pebbles at the bottom to help prevent root rot. Each also includes a layer of activated charcoal to keep the terrarium fresh and to reduce fungus, bacteria and mold.
IMPORTANT: Never put a terrarium in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time, since the glass magnifies heat and can 'cook' the plants. Always protect closed terrariums from direct sun. Succulents can handle some direct sunlight as long as they're pretty dry. If there's too much moisture in the container the hot sun will create steam and damage the plants.
All terrariums require pruning from time to time to keep them healthy and looking great. Gently remove any brown, wilted or fallen leaves as they die, since too much dead organic matter can affect the health of the living plants. If you need to pull dead leaves off of a plant, you want to be careful not to uproot the entire plant. Use your fingers or a chopstick to gently hold the plant in place and remove the dead leaf with your other hand. Long tweezers can be helpful, especially for closed terrariums or succulent terrariums in tall containers. Most specialty aquarium stores (and yes, even the dreaded Amazon) sell extra long tweezers, scissors and other aquarium tools which can be very helpful for tall terrariums with smaller openings.
Tips for Succulent Terrariums
Depending on their size, small succulent terrariums usually need only a few teaspoons of water every one to two weeks, large ones need only a few tablespoons. The general rule of thumb is to wet the soil slowly, and then let dry completely between waterings. Tap water is safe for succulent terrariums, but distilled will prevent mineral deposits and water spots on the glass and plants.
Take your time when watering. You want to make sure the water gets absorbed by the soil and doesn't just fall right to the bottom of the terrarium leaving the soil too dry and creating a pool at the base. Spray bottles are great for slowly and evenly moistening the soil, just avoid misting the entire surface of the plants. A small squirt bottle, spoon, or small watering can with a very narrow neck works too - helping you avoid the plants and keep overspray off the glass. Using ice cubes isn't recommended since extremely cold water can damage the roots of some succulents.
A small amount of water at the bottom of the container after watering is okay. If water has accumulated at the base, avoid watering until its evaporated, unless the soil is bone dry and the plants are starting to shrivel or brown. If this happens, water VERY slowly to moisten the soil without adding to the pool in the drainage layer.
In dry environments, check for dryness every 1 to 2 weeks.
In humid environments, check for dryness every 2 to 4 weeks.
REMEMBER: Succulents are desert plants, so always err on the side of less water. If the leaves are soggy and yellowing, you're over-watering. If they're shriveled and brown, you're under-watering.
Succulent terrariums prefer bright, indirect light, so keep them near any sunny window in your home, but avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. When succulents get too little light, they may lose a bit of color or grow long and start stretching towards the light (know as becoming 'leggy'). This won't hurt the plants - they're incredibly hardy - but your terrarium would definitely benefit from more light. If you need to provide additional lighting, you may not need to go full-on grow bulb. Start with a bright, full-spectrum LED bulb that plugs into a regular lamp - they're cheaper, easier on the eyes, and may provide just enough extra light to do the trick.
Tips for Tropical (Closed) Terrariums
The tropical plants in closed terrariums love moisture. The water inside a closed terrarium evaporates from the soil and plants, condenses on the glass, and falls back down, making the terrarium relatively self-sustaining. You'll know the terrarium has the right amount of water when condensation appears on the glass in the morning and evening hours, and the glass is clear during the day.
If you're not seeing condensation, use a spray bottle to add water - a little at a time - until you're seeing a regular morning and evening pattern. If you're seeing condensation during the day, remove the lid - just for an hour or two at a time - until the glass is consistently clear during the day.
Most tightly closed terrariums can sustain themselves almost indefinitely once you've got the right amount of moisture inside. If yours has a particularly loose lid or a small opening at the top, you'll need to keep an eye on the moisture levels and add water as needed.
CLOSED TERRARIUMS WITH MOSS: Many of our closed terrariums are made with live moss. Even though most plants in closed terrariums 'water themselves,' live moss may need a light spray of DISTILLED water every so often. Depending on how tightly your terrarium is sealed, this could be once every few weeks or once every few months. Keep an eye on your moss until you get a feel for the watering schedule. Moss needs water when it starts to look a little less plump and green. Thirsty moss starts to turn either lighter or darker depending on the species. If moss turns completely brown it is dead and should be gently removed.
Closed terrariums don't need quite as much light as succulent terrariums in order to thrive. Just keep them within a few feet of a bright window with indirect light. Just like succulent terrariums, if the plants start to become pale or grow leggy, move them to a brighter spot or use a supplemental LED light.
For more information on terrarium care and troubleshooting, Terrarium Tribe is an excellent resource!
Most kokedama are a little more "high-maintenance" than terrariums, but they are a stunning way to display plants and with proper care they can last up to a year or more before they need to be re-wrapped or repotted.
Overall Light and Water Requirements
Most of the plants we use for kokedama are hardy houseplants that generally require weekly watering, occasional to frequent misting between waterings (except succulents), and bright to moderate indirect light.
Follow the specific instructions on your kokedama tag, as some types require different care.
Kokedama wrapped in twine may need to be re-wrapped eventually, since twine is biodegradable and will break down over time. Shorter soaking times may help prolong the life of your twine.
Place your kokedama ball (plant side up) in a bowl of room temperature deep enough to cover about 3/4 of the moss ball and soak for 10-20 minutes until the moss ball feels heavy and a fair bit of the water has been absorbed. You may need to hold it down initially so it does float and tip over. Don't submerge the entire ball, as some plants won't like their stems wet for a prolonged period.
After soaking, lightly squeeze out the excess water and allow the kokedama to dry on a towel or in a colander for an hour or so before placing it back on display. This draining/drying period will also prevent bottom rot.
Kokedama will likely need more frequent watering in the winter when indoor air tends to be much drier. Plants that need weekly watering in the summer may need to be soaked twice a week during the winter, depending on the humidity.
Every 6-12 months you can add a small bit of liquid fertilizer to the water. We recommend using half of the recommended amount of fertilizer.
For most plants, kokedama is a temporary display method. Many plants will eventually start to outgrow their moss balls - usually after a year or two. We generally stick to slow-growing plants for this reason. To keep your kokedama going longer, you can trim roots as they begin to grow through the moss however, you will eventually need transplant it into a container or a larger kokedama ball.
To repot, gently cut the twine or fishing-line wrapping and slowly peel back the moss. Loosen much of the soil off of the roots to ensure that they are strong and healthy. Repot according to the needs of the specific plant.
Surface Mold: On rare occasions, kokedama may grow mold on the outside of the moss ball. Don't worry. This may be a sign of overwatering or poor air circulation, but can also be a natural occurrence on kokedama that require more frequent watering. If mold develops, just wipe down the outside of the moss ball with an anti-bacterial hand wipe (not a bleach wipe) or use a washcloth and some diluted dish soap. Use a few drops of dish soap to a few cups of water, and wring out the cloth before wiping down the surface of the moss. Do not saturate the moss ball with soapy water. Make sure your kokedama is displayed in an area with good air circulation.
Protruding Roots: Roots may eventually begin to grow out of the moss ball. If this happens you can:
• Trim them (though this will slow the growth of your plant)
• Let them grow wild (usually requiring higher humidity or more frequent misting), as it won't hurt most plants and can create an interesting look
• Repot the plant either by gently removing the moss and twine or try repotting the entire moss ball
• Contact us to have your kokedama re-wrapped