Terrarium Singapore Blog

The History of Terrarium

Terrariums are slowly gaining popularity among those who love gardening and even those without a green thumb. But have you ever wondered how it came about? To the curious cats, here is a history of terrarium!

In 1842, botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward wrote a book called “On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases” and told his story about his interesting encounter. He had an interest in observing insect behaviour so he placed a chrysalis into a wide-mouthed glass bottle along with some mould and capped it. As part of his study, Nathaniel decided to place the bottle at an area where there was sunlight. He noticed that moisture forms at the top of the bottle during the day and then circulate back down to the mould and soil in the evening,

To his surprise, a seedling fern and a sprout of grass bloomed inside the bottle. This was exactly what he had been trying to grow in his garden but it was not doing well. Nathaniel speculated that it was due to the pollution from local factories that had affected the growth of his plants. As such, it made him believe that plants can grow in such a condition where they are protected from contaminants in the surrounding. Then he placed it outside the window and the plants continued to thrive inside the bottle even with no water. This was when terrarium was born.

It soon became a trend and was quickly spread in the Victorian Era amongst the English. Instead of terrariums, they were called the Wardian case. Nathaniel had hired carpenters to build his Wardian cases to export native British plants to Australia. Despite traveling for months, the plants arrived in mint condition and were still thriving. This shows that plants can be sealed in without ventilation and still continue to grow. Though the popularity has died down today, terrariums have made a bit of a comeback.