I’m not in a very creative place at the moment, so I thought I will tell you about my little terrarium project from a few months ago. I love cacti and succulents – there are some unusual and cute specimens and a huge variety. And they’re super easy to care for. As they are extremely popular these days, there’s no end of inspiration for styling and decorating with succulents. A terrarium is essentially a miniature, closed, eco-system. However, these days, this varies quite a bit. The easiest type of terrarium to put together is an open one with low-maintenance plants. Mine has just 4 components to it:

  1. A container – a glass vessel in this case
  2. Plants
  3. Soil
  4. Top covering – I used pebbles


Gathering the Pieces

I had a rough idea in my mind that I wanted to build an open (i.e. not sealed with a lid) terrarium with succulents, so I was constantly on the look out for material I could use. I didn’t really want to walk into a store and buy the components in one go because, a) it would’ve cost a pretty penny, and b) where’s the fun in that?

The container

The glass container was an op-shop find (short for Opportunity Shop – i.e. charity shop or thrift store, for all you non-Kiwis). I had initially visualised a clear goldfish bowl shape for my vessel, but had to pass up on a couple as they were either badly scratched, dented or too pricey. So I was delighted to find this lovely tear drop shaped vessel at the local Red Cross shop for only $8 – and not a single scratch or chip in it!


The 2 plants I selected for the terrarium were a short, spikey Haworthia – fondly known as a Zebra plant, and a Rainbow Elephant plant. The Elephant plant was store bought at $5, from The Warehouse, and we’ve had the Haworthia growing in pots for ages.


Succulents work best in well draining soil and there are blends of special succulent/cacti potting mix you could buy from the garden store, or you could blend your own by mixing ordinary potting mix with sand and perlite. But I did none of the above. Once I had all of the other components lined up, I was rather impatient to put it altogether – ordinary potting mix was at hand, and ordinary potting mix went in the terrarium.

Top cover

There were no trips to the riverside in the horizon, so I resorted to buying a bag of pebbles from the dollar store. I selected the lightest coloured pebbles to contrast the dark plants.


Putting in All Together

This was quite easy – the only tool I required was a plastic spoon!

  • Filled about 3 inches of the container with the potting soil
  • Used the plastic spoon handle to make holes for the 2 plant – with the taller Elephant plant behind the haworthia
  • Place the plants in the holes and tightened the soil around them using the spoon
  • Added the top layer of pebbles with the help of the spoon to get into tight corners



After Care

As the soil used is not particularly well-draining and since the container does not have drainage holes, this terrarium could easily be over-watered. So it’s important that it’s only watered sparingly about once a fortnight. Also took care to place it in a spot where it will get a lot of sunshine – specially for the Elephant plant’s benefit (non-green leaves).

Over all I’m extremely happy with the result and pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. I’m sure there will be more terrariums in my life when the mood strikes 🙂


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