Introduction: Easy, Cheap Cactus/Desert Terrarium

I always have had an interest in desert plants. Mainly because of how they can survive in dry climates and extreme heat with very little water. But over the past few days I have been really thinking about making a dry climate terrarium. My terrarium consists of succulents and cacti. It is relatively easy to make and takes very little time too! This terrarium can be used indoors or outdoors, in windows or on porches what ever floats your boat if you know what I mean.

Step 1: Preparing and Cutting

At this point in time you will be wondering, well what is it made of? The truth is, is that it's made of every day objects you can find and purchase for little under 15-20 dollars. That is if you don't already have the materials and want to buy a full board, 36 pack of black bags and short nails. So if you do have these items then your set all you need is a saw and a hammer.

What you will need:
- Hammer
- Nails preferably small headed
- Miter Saw
- EXACTO Knife
- Wood Dye or Polish
- Short Roofing Nails
- Caulk
- Board- you choose thickness and width
- Heavy Duty Black Bag
- Sand
- Soil- preferably not from outside so weeds don't grow as much
- Pencil
- Sander or Sand Paper
- Rag
- Cacti or any desert plant
- Small River Pebbles or fish tank pebbles
- Patience
- Measuring Tape

Take your board and cut out 2, 15" boards, 2, 9 1/2" boards and 1, 7 1/4" by 15" board for the base. Use the Miter Saw for this step in order to maintain a straight edge.

Step 2: Nailing It

Use nails with heads about the size of the nail to hold the box together. But before you nail be sure to pre drill the holes for an easy nail job. Put about 7 nails in the small boards and about 4-5 in the longer pieces along the bottom edge connecting it to the base which lays inside the box. To ease this process I have illustrated an image on how the boards go together.


Sand each side of the box with both 80 grit, and 150 grit sand paper. You don't have to sand the inside of the box but be sure to sand the top and bottom. The more sanding the better your stain will turn out and the better it will look. For looks, round all edges of the box, except for the bottom edge.

Step 4: Stain Much?

Apply 2 coats of wood stain onto the outer edges of your box. If you want this box on a shelf or stand be sure to stain the bottom. Doesn't it look luvaly (spelling error on purpose). Be sure to leave a 15- 30 minute drying time period between staining to let the wood soak the stain in.

Step 5: Caulk It, and Bag It

Apply 5 drops of caulk to the bottom and the sides of the inside of your box. This will help keep the bag in place. Next cut a section out of a heavy duty black trash bag and press it into the box. Don't worry if the bag looks like mine, we will trim it soon to fit.

Step 6: Cutting Bags Is Fun and Nailing Is Even More Fun!

Take about 10-15 small flat headed nails and nail them in a line about 1 inch from the top of the inside of your box. Continue this on all sides so that the bag is tight to the box. Next grab your cutting device or EXACTO knife and cut the bag 1/2" from the too of the nails all the way around the rim of the box. When done you should be able to bend the 1/2" bit of bag over the nails like a cover.


Make a combined mixture of 50/50 sand to peat moss and mix well. The sand is for the growth of the cacti and the appeal of a desert environment. Fill the box to about 1/2"-1" from the top of the box edge and even out, make sure the soil is still loose and not packed.

Step 8: Release Your Inner Decorator!! }:-)

Select your biggest and most colorful cacti and plant it in the center back of your box for the best effect. Make sure you break apart the cacti roots and empty some of the old dirt out. Make sure that you keep all big plants in the back so they don't block any of the plants. Fill in the front of the box with smaller cacti and low lying plants so that they don't block any of the plants from sight. When you think you have enough plants spread your river pebbles and or fish tank pebbles between the plants to cover your sand filled peat moss.

Step 9: Placement

I put my planter next to a sunny window(closed since it's dark) and placed a spray bottle next to it. If you are putting it on wood be sure to cover the bottom in foam or fabric to prevent marks from forming. And there you have it your very own cacti planter! If you want to make it look like the old west add Indians and cowboys or even make it look like Afghanistan and put soldiers! For watering the plants, you should only have to spray the plants every 1-2 weeks with a spray bottle. Maybe you could even add lights for a night light effect, who knows the possibilities are endless!

Thank you for viewing and post a comment if you have any question or critiques! They really help me male more instructables, I'm serious. And if at all possible check it out in the contests and vote. Any ole instructable will do doesn't have to be mine, always choose the best and no less. Thank you.

Step 10: Any Ideas? You Can't Make It But Want to See Your Idea Come to Life Like Frankenstine?

Want more instructables by me? Leave a comment on any future ideas or inspiration and I will see if I can make it. Make sure your idea is appropriate. At the end of the week or during the week I will choose one and make it, or try. No there is no try, it's do or do not and I Will do.

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