The scientific processes that occur within a terrarium

A terrarium is a self-nourishing miniature garden enclosed in a bottle. There are 2 main types of terrariums, open and close. In this article we will be honing down specifically on the scientific processes in terrariums. Now, have you ever wondered why, although closed terrariums are entirely enclosed, plants (living organisms) are still able to survive and thrive in it?

open terrarium by ecoponics (terrarium workshop singapore)

The answer to that question lies in 3 naturally occurring processes:
Photosynthesis, respiration and the water cycle.

Let us get down to the fundamentals of these 3 processes.

Photosynthesis:

Image result for photosynthesis

Source: Photosynthesis process 

During the day, plants make their own food via photosynthesis. They do so by taking in water & nutrients through their roots, carbon dioxide through their stomata (underside of its leaves) and sunlight through their chlorophyll which are normally found on the upper side of its leaves. This process allows plants to make food to fuel its growth while at the same time, release oxygen to the atmosphere.

Respiration:

Now, what about respiration? Respiration can be regarded as the converse of photosynthesis. While photosynthesis occurs in the day, respiration occurs in the night. During this process, plants take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide.

Ecoponics (respiration and photosynthesis)

Note: Thus a combination of photosynthesis and respiration entails that there is constant gaseous exchange in the plant. The plant reuses the carbon dioxide present in the sealed up bottle to produce oxygen via photosynthesis and it uses the surplus of oxygen to produce carbon dioxide via respiration. This means that there is no need for frequent airing of your terrarium!

The water cycle:

When you water your terrarium for the first time, water is absorbed by the plants through its roots. It is then released via its stomata as water vapor in a process known as transpiration. The released water vapors then condense along the glass walls of the terrarium bottle and trickle back down to the soil to be reabsorbed by the plant through its roots. And thus the entire water cycle repeats itself.

Image Credit: alantankenghoe, Serangoon Reservoir

These are the 3 main scientific processes mandatory for the terrarium to be self sustainable. Without either one of which, it will not be able to survive enclosed.

Interested in designing and making your very own terrarium? We at Ecoponics (terrarium workshop singapore) conduct regular individual and group terrarium workshops for both corporates and schools. Come participate in our terrarium workshops!