Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Desert-Themed Terrarium with Succulent Plants

    Walking around the store the other day, I came across some succulent plants.  My mom used to have these in New Mexico and I remember that they liked a dry environment and they were pretty low maintenance.  The store had a really good selection, so I picked 4 of my favorites and brought them home.  They've been at my house in their original plastic pots for about 3-4 days.

    Today at Hobby Lobby, they had their glass 50% off!!!  I danced a little jig, picked out an awesome-looking HUGE bowl/vase hybrid and brought it home to build my little succulent terrarium.

This is how it turned out:

Making it was incredibly easy as far as setting it up.  HOWEVER, putting the plants in there was a bit tricky.  Luckily, I was able to squeeze them in without breaking any of them, but I suggest either measuring your plant circumference vs. accessible top circumference before beginning.  ---OR-- you can simply buy a larger-mouthed container than I did. 

How I did mine:

Open-air glass container (keeps it from getting too moist)
Succulent Plants
Activated charcoal (not necessary for open-containers like this one, but definitely needed for closed tropical terrariums.  I had some anyway from my old fish tank, so I went ahead and added it.)
Soil (I used cactus mix from a bag.  Succulents need good drainage and this will help keep them from getting too wet.)
Decorative Stones/Pebbles (optional)
Plastic window screen (optional, I did NOT use.  Read Step 2 to figure out if you'd like to add this or not.)

Step 1- Wash out your glass container to get rid of store dust and grime.  You're going to have to clean it up again later once the dirt is off, but it's going to be heavier then and it's nice to start with a clean slate.  Next, rinse your gravel and put a layer down.  The thickness depends on how large your container is.  I did about a 2" layer in mine.

Step 2- Then, rinse your activated charcoal under running water until the water runs clear.  Put a layer down on top of the gravel.  If you want to keep the charcoal from slipping into the gravel layer, you can cut a little section of window screening to prevent this.  Me?  Honestly, I didn't care if they mixed a little bit.  It really didn't move as I was making it and while it may move down a little over time, I'm not going to flip.  (When making terrariums for my dart frogs that I used to have, I did keep a screen in between the soil layer and the gravel to prevent soil slippage [no charcoal layer in those terrariums] and found the plastic window screen the best.  It won't rust like other screens and did not have to be replaced.)  Not necessary, but an option.

Step 3- Put down your soil layer and start planting your plants.  You'll have to add/subtract soil as you move things around, but now's the time to wiggle stuff around and see how you like it.

Step 4-  Dust as much soil off of our plants as you can (I found an old makeup brush worked FANTASTICALLY) and then decorate with pebbles or rocks.

Succulents do not need a lot of water.  You should only water them every few weeks.  The soil I added was moist enough (not wet) that I won't have to touch it or do anything for awhile yet.  Nice and easy way to enjoy some green in a room.


  1. wow, this looks great... I might give it a try sooner or later as I just love succulents and a terrarium looks like a lovely gift idea!Clelia

    1. Thank you so much! It's definitely a fun project to do and very flexible as far as what you put in and how big you want to make it. It can be as crazy or simple as you want it to be. Lots of different choices and very low-maintenance. :)

  2. Hi sarah,
    What do u do if itt is grown out of the bowl? Do u cut it and replant it again?