Activities - The Tropical Biome
1. Build a tropical terrarium
Tropical gardens need lots of water and humidity and are often grown in greenhouses like the Latitude 23 Glasshouse in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. This is a special place with heating and constant mist to replicate the steamy tropics. You can make a tiny, indoor greenhouse for tropical plants called a terrarium.
Choose a large (at least 1L) resealable jar with a click down lid, or even recycle a PET soft drink bottle by cutting off the top about a quarter of the way down.
1. Start with a layer of gravel, about 3cm deep, for drainage and cover it tightly with a piece of flyscreen, a chux cloth, or any old piece of coarse material. Make sure you cut it a little smaller than the container so you can’t see it.
2. Add some potting mix or coir peat to a depth of about 8cm. (You can get a perfect rainforest medium from garden centres and hardware shops called coir peat. This is made from leftover coconut husks and is a sustainable product. Previously peat from bogs was used, but mining for peat destroys sensitive and vital wetlands and swamps around the world. Follow the instructions to prepare your coir).
3. You can now plant any indoor plants you like. Small-leafed plants work best.
4. For interest, add some sticks with interesting shapes or a beautiful stone. Water well and put on the lid or replace the top part of your bottle. Your terrarium should be self-sufficient, and you can tell it’s doing well if there’s lots of condensation. If it ever looks too dry, give it a mist spray of water.
2. Matching activity
Match the product with the tropical plant it comes from. Can you list more products that come from these plants?
3. Grow a mini Avacado rainforest
Many tropical plants have huge seeds which contain energy for the growing seedling as the forest floor is too shady to get energy from the sun. A good example is the Avocado (Persea americana), native to tropical Mexico.
You can take advantage of this to create a miniature rainforest indoors. All you'll need is a shallow bowl, some Avocado seeds, some pebbles and water!
1. Fill your shallow bowl with pebbles and then top up with water.
2. Nestle your seeds into the stones so that the water covers at least half of the seed before placing near a window. They don't need much light.
3. Now watch and wait for the seeds to germinate, then produce leaves and a stem.
4. Every week or so flush out the old water by running a tap through the bowl in the sink.
5. These seeds will grow for up to 6 months, just on the energy in the seed!