Moss Terrariums and Bottle Gardens

This is one of a series of blogs written by Anthony Hall who beginning a three-month project to explore the secret life of historical moss specimens in our natural history collection in April 2021. This week he shows us how to create our very own bottle garden or ‘terrarium.’

Terrariums are kind of indoor garden housed inside a glass case, sometimes completely sealed,  with a naturalistic arrangement of small plants, ferns and mosses. These miniature worlds can be beautiful and calming objects to look at and create. They are also scientifically interesting.

In recent times terrariums have become popular and they can be expensive. However, it is simple to create your own. Terrariums are self-contained ecosystems, which are powered by sunlight. The plants photosynthesise, releasing oxygen and water. The water is released into the air as gas which condenses on the sides of the tank. The water then trickles down into the soil. Bacteria in the soil break down the oxygen and creates carbon dioxide, which the plant can use. And so, the cycle continues.

Here are some ideas for experiments with making your own self-sufficient world in a jam-jar with moss found in your garden or street.

You can find out more about Anthony’s project from his website and discover moss trails around Oldham in our latest blog.