Glass Containers for Plants
Antique glass domes and globes make ideal homes for humidity-loving plants or delicate dried, creating nostalgic, decorative features.
Plants growing in glass containers were popular features of 19th century homes, after the discovery by Nathaniel Ward, an English doctor, that tropical foliage plants and ferns did especially well when grown under glass. This is because a humid micro-climate is created in the sealed container.
A balanced atmosphere Plants under glass take up water from the compost and this is given out by the leaves. The water then condenses on the glass and runs back into the, so that a balanced atmosphere is achieved.
Wardian Cases, as they became known, were made in every size and shape, including some that looked like elegant miniature conservatories. The same effect can easily be created today with glass domes and globes. Occasionally, antique domes can be found, but modem versions are made, often with hardwood bases or containers for holding compost.
Chosen with care
Plants grown under a dome need to be chosen carefully so that they do not quickly outgrow the limited space available. Delicate dwarf ferns can look particularly lovely, but other moisture-loving tropical plants are suitable too.
The secret of this form of gardening under glass is perfect. A layer of gravel and charcoal, 2-3cm (1 – 1-1/2in) deep, should be covered with twice that depth of moist potting compost. The compost will need to be kept moist; in a closed dome, there should be slight condensation on the inside of the glass. If this increases, remove the dome until the glass becomes dry again. If there is no condensation, you can begin the cycle again by misting the leaves with a fine spray.