Making a DIY terrarium for yourself, or as a gift, is as easy as a few supplies and 20 minutes of time.
They aren’t as expensive as you think either. I’ll give you a few tips to help save even more money (another “learned the hard way” post).
First thing, you need bowls or vases or jars to house your succulents. I picked up these fish-bowly ones at Dollarama for $3 each – but you could easily make a small terrarium out of a mason jar or glass vases that are sitting lifeless in your cupboard. You can also pick up the gravel at Dollarama – they carried the beige river stones there, or glass beads will work too. The black I bought at Michael’s – they’re nice, but 3 times the price.
Then you need to pick out your succulents – the key here is to take your jars/containers WITH YOU when buying your plants. You’ll notice in this photo that a few of my plants are bigger than the jars I wanted them for, plus I bought too many. Save yourself a few bucks and take your jars with you.
I did a bit of research before jumping in to this, and I read that if you don’t have a lot of sunlight to put your DIY terrarium in – you shouldn’t buy red-leaved plants; they don’t survive without full sun.
You need a base of gravel in your container – this is to keep the plants from sitting in water and the roots rotting.
Before putting your base in, make sure to rinse the rocks. This will get rid of dust and chips that you don’t want in your plants.
The rocks need to be relatively small so that your soil doesn’t seep between them. Alternatively, layer your rocks to be an inch or so deep so that this will help keep the soil in place.
I’ve read articles where people have added a layer of charcoal at this point, but in speaking with the greenhouse staff they said it wasn’t necessary – you just need a good gravel base and peat moss or well-draining soil. The ideal for DIY terrariums is to use a peat moss, or a light soil combined with course sand and perlite. My greenhouse had peat moss, so I went with what was easiest and recommended. You really don’t need to buy special “succulent soil” to have success with this project.
When you choose your succulents, choose ones with little babies – not the technical term – but you’ll see what I mean:
Each little baby can be split from the Mom and planted separately – just gently separate the roots and pull. If they share a root, you can cut down the root so they both have part, or you can even plant a leaf itself (more in a minute)
You may find that your plants are pot-bound – this is where the roots are tightly compacted into their container. Gently break the soil apart so that the roots are spread out a bit – this will help it to grow more easily.
There was different information on how to split your succulents, so you’re better to research your exact plant for tips on how to propagate. For my plants, it was suggested that I take the broken-off leaves and let them dry out for a day or two so that the break area could “form a callous”. This is recommended so that when you plant the leaf, moisture doesn’t climb into the cut/break and cause rot. Alternatively, you could plant the broken leaves in dry peat moss – and don’t water. Within about two weeks you should see little roots forming right on the leaves themselves – no additional chemicals or planting compounds needed. From what I’ve read – the only thing that will kill these little suckers is water.
PERFECT – I forget to water all the time!
Plant, cover with soil and you’re done your DIY terrarium! I added about 1/3 of a cup of water to each of these just to make the peat moss heavy enough to hold the plants in place. It’s actually recommended that you don’t water them at all for a week or two. (Fingers crossed I didn’t screw this up).
You can top your soil with aquarium rock (rinsed) or a soft moss.
High-fives from my cactus!
Now’s a great time to get one started for Mother’s Day.
Fairy gardens are all the rage now – add a small fairy chair or sign into your terrarium for a year-round fairy home.
As your DIY terrarium grows, you can continue to split and prune it down to create more and more terrariums – it’s like a gift that keeps giving!
So, until you can get your garden in outside, create one inside!
Have a great one!