Even if the only space you have is a tabletop, you can still grow a lovely garden. Terrariums are miniature landscapes, and they’re easy and fun to make.Terrariums are like mini-ecosystems, succulents emulate a desert landscape while indoor plants can look like tiny rainforests. Better yet, they’re easy to create, seriously low maintenance and offer great architectural aesthetics for the modern home. This project brings an element of creativity and uniqueness into your home or space unlike anything else.
Step 1: Materials
The first thing you need for a project are the materials. Below I have listed all the materials I used, what I used them for, as well as how much they costed and where I got them from. The materials costed me around $30-$40 so relatively cheap, especially since I have lots of leftovers, allowing me maybe make another terrarium in the future. I tried to use stuff that was on sale, as well.
Glass vase/ pot: Around $4 at my local Target, in the section where you can buy fake plants and decorative jars. Fully glass so that even if the succulents are not getting a lot of light, they are fully exposed on all sides, so that compensates for not being able to put them in direct sunlight. Also, since the glass is reflective it multiplies the light given to them, so in winter it is helpful when they require lots more light.
Succulents: Two different ones. Large 3” purple/pink one is from Walmart in the gardening center, $4. Walmart has a selection of different types, but I recommend going to Home depot, which is where I got my second one. It was $3, and I have never seen that many different species and types of succulents in one place before, so I really recommend it. I also advise that you pick two plants who have similar watering and light needs, so that it is even easier to take care of. Only ever put succulents and cacti together, do not add a leafy plant and a cactus because only one will end up thriving, or both will never get quite what they need.
Horticultural/ Activated Charcoal: Bought this from Petsmart, can probably be found at almost any pet store, as it is used in fish tank filters. It works really well as a natural filter to get rid of bacteria in water. I added a layer of it in so that the excess water in the terrarium would not become smelly and stagnant.
Fish tank pebbles/rocks: Two different bags. Both from Petsmart, $2 for one and $4 for the other. (One was on sale) I used the first bag, which is a selection of brown and gray round rocks that have a smooth surface and are about the size of a pea for the very first layer. It provides a space for water to go so your plants aren’t sitting in water. The second one, which is small pea sized, jagged, white rocks was for the top to add more to the overall color scheme.
Soil: a large bag (was the only size available) of cactus/citrus/palm potting soil. I bought it from my local Home Depot in the garden center for around $7. This soil is very beneficial because it is garnered toward what to succulents and cacti need in order to thrive. It is lighter and more nutrient rich than any normal potting soil.
Step 2: First Layer and Cleaning
The first step I recommend to do is to completely wash out your glass jar or pot. This way no dust or chemicals left over from sitting on a shelf is there to damage your succulents. I did this by first wiping it down with a wet towel/ paper towel, then running it under water with soap. Make sure you don’t have any soap left over in the pot as well, because it can be dangerous to your succulents.
Then, I poured in around an inch of the first bag of round brown and gray pebbles. This is a very important step because it will prevent against water damage to the roots of your succulent in the future. Most plant post have some sort of drainage hole, but this was originally a vase, so we have to provide another way.
Step 3: Second Layer: Charcoal
The next layer consists of charcoal meant for fish tank filters, but that can be re-purposed for something like this Terrarium. Horticultural/activated charcoal is used because it is a natural and simple way of completely filtering bacteria and other bad things out of water. That way that if there does happen to be any water sitting in the bottom of your pot, it will be clean and clear. It will not sit and be stagnant and smelly, adding a negative element to your terrarium. I added around a half an inch, because you do not need a lot of it for this carbon to do it's job.
Step 4: Third Layer: Soil
The third layer consists of about 3 inches of cactus potting soil that I talked about in the materials list. I simply used a small cup to scoop it from the bag to the jar, instead of worrying about spillage and over pouring. You need this much soil because of the roots of your plant. They need a deep amount of space in order to thrive. You do not need to worry about having to add extra soil in this case, because we will be using the soil that the succulents already came planted in as well.
Step 5: Preparing and Planting Your First Succulent
After you have all your soil poured in, the next step is to press it down lightly and to dig a small hole wherever you want your succulent to be planted. Make sure to make the hole proportionate to the size of the succulent and the soil already given to you in the small temporary container.
To take the succulent out of the jar, I kneaded the sides until any connection between the two was broken, and it was easily able to slide out in one piece. I also realized I would not need all the soil given, so I lightly ran my fingers over the bottom of the soil pod over another container until around half an inch was taken off. It also left the roots exposed on the very very bottom, so that they will be able to directly connect to the new soil. I then gently put my prepared succulent it in the hole I created, making sure it had enough room and was in the right place, and then I pushed soil back into the empty spaces to once again create a semi-smooth and thick surface.
Step 6: Adding the Other Plants (Optional)
This next step is a repeat of the last couple, because I had another plant I wanted to add in. This one is a small cluster of five, that are green bulbous stalks that are about 1 ½ inches tall. I felt it added to the overall aesthetic of the terrarium, so I chose it. This step is optional, based on how many plants you want in your succulent garden, and how big they are. One thing I liked about this small green plant is that the roots were not all connected, they were individual stalks so I was able to arrange them however I wanted. So, once again I prepared the succulent, then dug a shallower hole than before because of the size of the roots, and then gently planted it.
Step 7: Final Layer: White Pebbles
The last later added into this succulent terrarium consists of the other bag of fish gravel I picked up from petsmart, which is very light and a bright white color. This step is important because it makes sure no soil flies away if your garden happens to be in a space where there is a bit of a breeze. It also helps prop the succulents upright until they take root. You can use any type of pebble you want, I went for white because it matched the look I was going for.
Step 8: Decorating Your Terrarium (Optional)
Finally, I went out to my garden and found a very nice marble-looking rock that had a few veins of a reddish brown color in it, and added it to my succulent garden. You can add whatever you want to spice up what you already have, but I do recommend not adding in anything permeable or porous, because it will not do well with the soil and the watering. However, this is the perfect step to personalize your terrarium. If you like it minimal, then just leave it be!
These terrariums are an awesome way to add a pop of color into a space, ad bring a unique (and cheap!) element of decor into your home that can otherwise cost quite a bit of money. They can be created for any purpose, from decorating to birthday gifts, and are always a special. Plus, they allow so much creativity and uniqueness into your home because you can personalize them any way you want.