The Fishtank Garden Design

A glass-cased garden which opens at the top is known as a Fishtank Garden the many attractive glass cases which open at the side are sold simply as Terraria.

The treatment of both is the same. Begin by placing a layer of gravel and charcoal at the bottom of the container and then add a 2 in. layer of seed and cutting compost. You can landscape the ‘ground’ into hills and valleys – use stones and pebbles if you wish but do not incorporate wood.

There is an extensive range of plants which are suitable for the Fishtank Garden or shop-bought Terrarium. It is a pity to waste such a good home on commonplace plants.

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Delicate Ferns, Crotons, Fittonia, Maranta, Cryptanthus, Calathea, Selaginella and Rhoeo will all flourish. Between the foliage add flowering varieties to provide splashes of color – African Violets and small Orchids are ideal.

Two warnings: never use Cacti or Succulents and always leave room between the plants so that they will be able to spread wothout becoming cramped.

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After planting cover the top with a sheet of glass with bevelled edges. Close the door if present of a standard Terrarium. Stand it in a well-lit spot out of direct sunlight. If excessive condensation appears, slide open the lid or door for a few hours, but keep it shut at other times.

There is little else to do – remove dead or diseased leaves and water every few months. The most important thing about the care of this type of garden is to avoid over-watering. There is no drainage hole, so add enough water so that the soil is just moist. Give your plants a drink by drizzling a little water down the side of the container or using a spray bottle to mist the terrarium. This portable mini-jungle is the easiest way to grow exotic plants.

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