The weather is almost warm enough outside to start gardening. In the meantime, if your green thumb feels itchy make a fun diy succulent terrarium for your desk or kitchen windowsill. Since the beach is my favorite place to spend the day, this succulent terrarium diy has a beachy vibe to it. If you can’t bring yourself to the beach every day, bring the beach to you.
The gardening market has so many unique glass containers perfect for terrariums these days – diamond shapes, buoyantly hanging bulbs, concrete-floored fishbowls. The whatever-hedrons are my favorite, those weirdly multi-sided pointy glass boxes with metal frames. My terrarium is in a ball jar, but a bell jar would be so appropriate, especially if you are a fan of Sylvia Plath like I am. Seriously, I wrote a 25-page term paper on female bildungsromans centering on The Bell Jar in high school and loved every minute of it. Along with reading Plath’s entire works and whatever companion literature and criticism of the genre that I could get my hands on. If you can’t tell, I’m a nerd. Maybe I should write an article about female coming-of-age stories through modernity. Basically, the common thread is that when faced with limited options, capable and intelligent women crumble into mental instability (the madwoman in the attic) with the onset of maturity. Plath said this a little more poetically, of course. Is anyone surprised? I’m so grateful we have more options these days. Get an education, a job, your own room, your own money and your own stuff, including a family and a husband if that’s your choice. Get some choices and make happiness one of them. Vote. The Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed for women. Anyway, bell jars are nostalgic. I digress. Is this now an article about terrarium as metaphor?
DIY Succulent Terrarium Materials
Sand from the hardware store
Seashells or pebbles from the beach or aquarium store
Activated Charcoal for gardening or aquariums
Potting Soil, cactus soil, or terrarium soil
Focal Crystals, Seashells, and Trinkets
Mason Jar or other glass container.
Check out a few of these other awesome terrarium container options:
DIY Succulent Terrarium Instructions
A word on tools – handy kitchen items can help drop and arrange terrarium items. Try to keep the sides of the jar clean by sending materials down through the center of the jar. A funnel may work. I used a kitchen ladle for sand and dirt, chopsticks for arranging, and small tongs to position heavier items.
First, start with a layer of sand. Work with sand from the garden or hardware store rather than the beach, which has bacteria and little critters living in it. I had some sand on hand from Houston Garden Center, left over from when I filled up my yoga sandbags. Add about an inch or so of sand. You don’t need too much and it’s certainly not required for terrariums, but it brings a nice beachy vibe to a beachy terrarium.
Next, add a layer of seashells. Start with bigger ones on the bottom and add in smaller ones up top. The seashells help create air space in the bottom of the terrarium, so water doesn’t constantly sit in the soil and create root rot. I used seashells collected from the beach, cleaned of course. Little tools come in handy here. Chopsticks help arrange the seashells in an attractive pattern around the side of the mason jar. You can also add a layer of pebbles on top to help keep the next layers better separated.
After that, sprinkle a layer of activated charcoal on top of the shells with a spoon. The charcoal helps clean the water as it passes through and prevents mold from growing. On top of that, pat a light layer of sphagnum moss. Some terrarium soils come with this mixed in already, so you may not need it. Just check the soil bag ingredients. Sphagnum moss helps keep the soil moist.
Now the terrarium will suddenly come together! Drop a light layer of soil on the moss, and carefully begin to arrange your succulents. Drop more soil around the plants to fill in the spaces. I moistened my soil and used chopsticks to pick up little balls of sushi-rice-sized dirt to arrange around the plants. Pat the soil in place with a spoon and fingers. Finish it off with a few knick-knacks and focals like crystals and seashells. I like to group items in threes. My terrarium has quartz crystals (balance your bodily vibration) and kyanite points (improve mental clarity or clairvoyance). These little planters are a great way to sneak some good crystal feng shui into your house or workspace without looking like a total nut job (no poison arrows!).
Lightly water the terrarium and cover it with a lid if you want. Place in indirect light, and enjoy! This little ecosystem is ready to thrive.
To care for your terrarium, keep it in indirect light, as direct light can magnify through the glass and fry the plants. If your terrarium starts to fog on the sides, open the lid a bit. It has too much water in it. If your container lives open rather than closed, just add a little water every week or so. A closed terrarium shouldn’t need additional water, although it’s a good idea to open it up every year or so to let the water evaporate and refresh, and maybe trim the plants.
Not feeling up to making a terrarium? Not everyone has the time. Check out a few of these awesome terrariums you can buy. They may even spark your inspiration!