In 1960, a man named David Latimer decided to grow a closed terrarium in a glass bottle out of curiosity.
He never guessed that his experiment would eventually be declared the oldest terrarium in the world. Technically, a closed terrarium can live on indefinitely under the proper conditions.
Over the years, Latimer’s terrarium continued to thrive even as it remained sealed shut. The only time he opened the container was to water it in 1972.
He created the terrarium by first washing out a ten-gallon glass bottle. Then, he filled it with compost and placed a spiderwort seedling inside, along with a bit of water.
After that, he corked the bottle and put it under a stairwell where it received plenty of indirect sunlight. There, it became a self-sustaining ecosystem, serving as an example of how nature preserves itself.
Every so often, he would also rotate the bottle so the foliage could grow uniformly. He never pruned any of the plants, as they appeared to only grow within the bottle itself.
In order for a closed terrarium to thrive, it needs to be able to follow the process of photosynthesis, which is how plants recycle nutrients to create energy that is used to fuel their activities.
Plants absorb sunlight and use its energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into food and produce oxygen.
The aerobic bacteria from the compost use the oxygen released from plants and transforms it back into carbon dioxide, which the plants can then use.