After everything was cleaned up, this is how it turned out.
Crafts, Projects

Creating a Terrarium

The countertops in my kitchen aren’t in the greatest shape, one day I’ll get them replaced. In the meantime I have strategically placed items to cover up the worst looking spots. In one of these places was a wine rack, but wine isn’t really my thing so I was looking into something to replace it with.

After the finishing touches were added, this is the final product.

Terrariums caught my interest, they look lovely and are super low maintenance. Those are two qualities that are right up my street.

I hunted for a container at a craft store and wasn’t disappointed. I purchased a 1 gallon terrarium with a lid. The biggest selling feature to me was that it provided a leaflet with some suggestions on plants and care instructions.

In hindsight this project was far messier and took much longer than I anticipated. I could also have planned it out better, opps. Despite all of that I’m happy with the results and it is a more attractive counter ornament than the wine rack.

This is the mayhem I created while working on this project.


You’ll need:

  • Terrarium Jar or container
  • Stones or gravel for the bottom layer and perhaps something more decorative for the top layer
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Scissors
  • Gardening gloves – especially handy if you’re going to have prickly cacti
  • Trowel
  • Newspaper to cover your work space
  • Any other small accent pieces that you like

What you will need for the project.

Some of these items could be purchased at the craft store as well or a gardening center but I found most of them at the pet store. They sell stones, sand and charcoal in small enough quantities that you won’t have much leftover.

The leaflet with my jar implied that the project would take 30 minutes. From prep to clean-up it took me closer to 2 hours. Granted I also made a mess and had to vacuum the floor.

I washed and dried the jar before I started. It had fingerprints from the store all over and the lid was taped on so there was gunk to remove from the tape as well. For the bottom layer I used stones that I collected from a beach out East years ago. They varied in size but I didn’t think the gaps between stones were very large until I put the charcoal in and saw it filling in all the gaps. It looked horrible and I ended up removing everything and starting over. Charcoal is messy, it was not fun.

I used large stones for the first layer in the terrarium.

For the second round I used some of the small decorative stones to fill in any big gaps in the stones. Next was a layer of charcoal. The charcoal is to purify the air, but I read after that cacti and succulents don’t like to be fully enclosed so I don’t keep the lid on my jar.

Two parts soil to one part sand to make a good terrarium mix.

A two parts soil to one part sand mixture is next. In the leaflet picture there is very little soil in the jar, I used a couple of inches. When I took the plants out of the plastic pots the root systems were much larger than I expected and I wanted to make sure they had plenty of soil.

These are the three plants I chose for the terrarium.

Now it’s time for the cacti or succulents. If like me you selected the kind with spines, have fun with that. Neither me nor the cacti had a good time getting him in that jar. There were three plants I had selected for the jar, two succulents and a cacti. Once the couple inches of soil were in the jar the tall succulent I selected wouldn’t fit. If placed to the side it would have hit the top, or if in the middle there wouldn’t have been room for me to get the stones in or to water. I ended up planting him separately.

This is a good side shot to give you an idea of how much soil I used.

The other problem that I had was with the little decorative stones, they were tiny and got caught in both the cacti and the succulent. Once I was finished I cleared out what I could but some of the spaces were so tiny or they got caught in the spines, it was easier and safer to use tweezers to remove those. A jar with a wider mouth would have been helpful for this and the planting process.

This is what happens when the tiny stones from the top layer get out of control.

The best part was adding the fun little skull accessory I had picked up at the pet store. The steer skull goes well with my skull cookie jar across the kitchen. It was the smallest size that I could get but it was still too big for the terrarium jar. Since it was just made out of plastic, I took pliers and started carefully breaking off pieces. There is little control on where the plastic skull breaks apart especially when the plastic is thick. Protect your eyes and body from flying pieces and you’ll want to vacuum after. No matter how careful you try to be, little pieces get everywhere and would be super painful to step on.

To finish off I gave these little guys a drink a water and put them in a shady spot close, but not too close to the window.

The end result, is a bit of a mix. Unfortunately the succulent planted separately only lasted a few weeks, I just couldn’t keep the little guy alive. The terrarium however was made back in April and is still going strong.

From above this is the layout of the jar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s