Posted on: March 26, 2019 at 4:18 pm

“A weed is a normal plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” – Doug Larson


When David Latimer was creating this terrarium garden, he certainly didn’t know it was going to turn out to be this magical. He planted the seedling as a simple experiment in 1960, and the plant was last watered in 1972. 58 years later, the plant is still thriving with no plans of dying off anytime soon.

In reality, most terrarium gardens, even though they are usually left wide open for free oxygen and are watered regularly, won’t survive for 58 years. They are planted in glass jars, cups, or bowls. The lovely plants are used as pieces of interior décor in the home [1].


Some drops of water and a stream of sunlight

On Easter Sunday in the year 1960, Latimer poured some compost into a large glass carboy. He used a wire to place a spiderwort sprout in the soil, added a little sprinkle of water, and sealed off the bottle. Plants need sunlight to conduct photosynthesis, so he placed it in a sunny corner in his home. 12 years later, in 1972, he uncorked the glass bottle and sprinkled some water on the thriving plant, and that was it. He hasn’t watered it anymore since then, and yet a fully functional, self-sufficient eco-system thrives in his home [2].

The only thing Grandpa David did for this plant was to place strategically in a sunny corner. Everything else, it provided for itself. Without sunlight, the plant would have been dead before the first week slid by. In fact, it wouldn’t have germinated at all. Plants make their own food through photosynthesis [3]. The three main external factors needed are sunlight, carbon dioxide, and moisture.


In this ecosystem, glass is reflective, so sunlight can get through. Bacteria from the compost and fallen decaying leaves use up the oxygen given off by the plants. They metabolize the O2 and give off carbon dioxide which the plants absorb for through photosynthesis can produce carbohydrates (glucose) and oxygen (once again).

Tenacious growth in a bottle

This experiment is one of the most explicit descriptions of self-sufficient survival. With absolutely no care and tending, the plant has been thriving and growing vigorously for nearly 6 decades now. It’s become a legacy and a heritage in the Latimer family. Every element it needed for survival, it found a way to obtain.

Grandpa David hopes to pass it down to his children, who will pass it down to theirs as well. For as long as it lives, the plant will be a legacy and a source of pride to his family.

A closer look at the leaves of the plant will show how sleek and healthy the leaves are with no signs of discoloration. This terrarium garden is a microcosm of the modern-day greenhouse garden, only that those ones actually get enough care and attention.


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