- Glass Container. I used 11" fishbowls. I found them for $7 at my local craft store chain, Pat Catans. You can frequently find many bowls or containers that would work at a thrift store a dollar or less, but I wanted them to be uniform for my centerpieces.
- Succulents. I bought them from a local garden center, but you can find them online as well.
- Activated Charcoal/Horticulture Charcoal. I found this for $6 for a large bag at a local garden center.
- Cacti/Succulent Soil. I found this for $4 for at a local garden center.
- Small Rocks/Pebbles/Fish Tank Rocks.
- Spray Bottle/Spritzer.
- Newspapers or a Plastic Table Cloth.
- Small Paint Brush or Old Makeup Brush.
- Art Sand. (optional) $3 - $6 per bag
- Decorative Figures. (optional)
If you are working inside, cover your work area with newspapers or a plastic table cloth. Things get messy pretty quickly and you will regret it later when you're cleaning up. Prepare your containers by washing your containers and removing any stickers or price tags. PRO TIP: WD-40, a credit card and a paper napkin work great for removing left over sticker residue. Be sure to do this BEFORE washing or you might have to do it again before planting as you don't want any weird chemicals in the containers that could affect the health of your plants.
Step 1: Add the stones.
Start by filling the bottom of your container with some stones or pebbles. This will help to create a false drainage layer and help you avoid flooding your plants and killing them. The depth of the layer depends on the size of your container, but I kept mine at .5" since succulents are typically watered with a spray bottle and you don't ever need to add a ton of water.
Step 2: Add the activated charcoal.
Add a layer of activated charcoal. This part is pretty messy, so be careful! You don't need tons of this, just be sure to cover your rock layer completely. The activated charcoal will help keep the bacteria and fungi in check and also help to prevent unpleasant odors from decaying plant matter. It is absolutely key to maintaining the health of your terrarium, so don't skip this part!
Step 3: Add the soil.
Succulents and cacti need special soil, so be sure you buy the right product. Add your soil on top of the activated charcoal. I added a layer that was approximately 3". In hindsight, I wish I would have added a bit more. You have to be sure that there is enough room for the plants to grow and accommodate their roots.
Step 4: Prep your succulents for planting.
Carefully remove your succulents from the pots that they came in and separate the hard rootball before planting. Be very careful not to damage their roots in the process! If you are separating your plant into multiple parts, be gentle.
Step 5: Plant!
Dig a little hole (I used my fingers) to plant your succulents in. Make sure there is a spot for their roots to go. Place the plant in the hole and cover the base with some soil. Pack it tight enough that it stays standing and the base and roots are covered, but not so tight that the soil around it is hard/extremely compact. Avoid planing around the edges, although some leaves will most likely touch the sides of the container. After planting, use your paint brush or make up brush to remove any soil debris from the plants. If you wish, you can stop here and be done, or you can continue on to make your terrarium a little more fancy.
Step 6: Add Sand and Accessories.
I used art sand in white and tan and added it carefully in layers. I made sure to use my old makeup brush the plants between layers to remove any that landed on the plants. I also added little plastic dinosaur skeletons to mine and buried them partially to fit with the theme of my wedding. After adding the sand, use a paintbrush or makeup brush to situate the sand and clear any excess sand off of the plants. Spritz lightly with a water bottle to hydrate them.
That's it! Each one took me about 15 or 20 minutes to complete. You water them using a spray bottle. They don't need tons of water. In fact, over watering these little fellas is the easiest way to kill them. If the leaves are looking a little shriveled and wrinkly give them a good spritz, but otherwise the only need watered every 2 to 4 weeks. Keep in mind that these plants prefer partial shade, so keeping them out of direct sunlight is best for them.
I've only made 2 so far, but in the coming months I will be making a handful more of the succulent terrariums and about 8-10 moss and fern terrariums. I'll post pictures of them eventually!
So, what do you think? Have you ever made a terrarium? What kinds of plants and accessories did you use?