|Wardian Case History
In 1829 Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward performed an experiment which led him
to discover, quite by accident that plant life could survive nearly
untouched beneath glass. His display at the World's Fair drew vast
attention which led to Wardian Cases being used to transport exotic plants
(live orchids) from distant lands. During the Victorian Era, Wardian Cases
became extremely popular as decorative showcases for indoor gardens and
parlor accent pieces.
Wardian Case Theme
The first thing to consider is your display theme. Some suggestions are
tropical forest, marshy bog, or even Southwestern desert. Wardian Cases
are very personal miniature gardens so the choice is up to you.
Before the Planting !!!
To get started you really don't need much equipment (hands and fingers are
best for miniature gardens.) You will need some soil, gravel, and charcoal
First start with a layer of gravel (1 / 8" crushed gravel is best.)
Your tray is about 3 inches tall and you will want to have about a 3/4
inch layer of gravel.
Next sprinkle a layer of charcoal chips, enough to cover the gravel layer.
Top this off with 2 inches of potting soil.
If you choose to plant orchids or cacti you should consult your local
greenhouse for pre-packaged specialty soil mixes.
Before adding plants, you might want to do a little landscaping. A few
rocks can give your case some dimension. You might want to use oval or
rounded Japanese black cobbles, twigs, or even miniature garden
Now let's get to planting !!!
The main question, what type of plants to use ?? Miniatures or dwarf
plants are best and here's a list of suggestions: Any green plants will
thrive. Other favorites include members of the Peperomia family, pileas,
miniature fern, coleus, cuban oregano, penta, tradea scentia, miniature
mums. Even collector plants like African violets, orchids or small
begonias are great!
If you choose to plant the flowering plants you will need to remove the
Wardian Case from time to time as these types of plants need some
ventilation & pruning.
As you get more adventurous, you might even try a miniature garden trellis
with a miniature rose or how about a bonsai tree?
Finally, add a little ground cover. Mosses work very well. If you are
looking for a total cover try a little baby's tear or Scotish moss. When
using mosses, plant them immediately. Push the tiny pieces into the soil
and make sure they are we inserted into the soil. Little pebble trails or
garden tools are also a great accent. Remember if you get tired of your
miniature garden you can always remove and/or add a few plants, or you can
start completely from scratch and create an entirely new with a new theme.
Common plant ailments and remedies:
Yellow leaves or leaf tips turning brown - too much moisture, try taking
the top off your case for a few hours a day until plants look greener.
Leaves falling off the plants - foliage is touching the glass,
adjust your plants or prune
Leggy growth - not enough light
(remember don't put in direct sunlight)
Brown or Black blotches - too much sun,
move to lower light area
**Remember also to remove dead blooms and twigs**
Wardian Case Tips:
You won't need to water much,, encased plants can go months without water,
watch the condensation, when it becomes extremely minimal it is time to
No need to fertilize - it will create toxic salts that kill plants.
Put your Wardian Case in a bright area, but don't put in direct sunlight
it will bake (kill) your plants.