Saturday, May 25, 2013

Terrarium Tutorial

Terrariums have been my obsession for the past few months. I started collecting succulents on a weekly basis and there came a time when I needed a place to plant these little cuties. I really loved the look of terrariums, and the best part is that they're easy to take care of! I've only killed 4...and that's a big deal for me lol.

I've made over 50 terrariums in the past 3 months and it still hasn't stopped. I mean...just today I bought 4 new plants...and I still have 6 at home that haven't been potted yet...

A lot of you have been asking me how to build one of these guys, so I thought I would share my techniques with you.

First let's talk Ingredients...

There are plenty of tutorials out there, and there are many different ways of layering your terrarium. I've used my method for months now and I'm pretty happy with it. 

What you'll need:

-Cactus Soil
-Rocks (various sizes)
-Activated Charcoal 

You'll also need:

-Paint Brush
-Spray bottle

Now, you don't necessarily need to use all of these ingredients. I have some that only use rocks and soil. Some that only use sand, and some that use everything. The most important thing is drainage! 

Succulents don't require a lot of water, these little cuties are accustomed to warmer and dryer climates. So giving them too much water, or a pot with soil that doesn't drain well isn't good for them. 

Let's talk terrarium vases....

I've used everything from mason jars, cups, copper bowls, and ornate shaped glasses. 

Don't worry about spending too much money on pretty pieces of glass. I usually get mine from thrift shops. The most I ever paid for a vase was like 8 dollars and that took some convincing to purchase...sorry boo, but I got bills, groceries, and fresh flowers to buy.

Ok let's start layering...

The first and most important layer is your rock/pebble layer. This allows proper drainage for your succulents, since any excess water will collect at the bottom. This prevents your little woo from rotting and dying too quickly. 

I normally use smaller rock for this first layer. I do this because when I pour the second layer in, which is normally a lot finer, it will seep through larger cracks and gaps and it can look a little messy. I'm feeling a little adventurous today, so I'm going to try the larger ones, I think it will look better for the type of terrarium that I'm building today.

It's always good to have different sized rocks to work with. 

First layer in!

Now for the second layer...

You have a few options here. 

You could use...moss, sand, activated charcoal, or perlite. 

1. The activated charcoal helps clean the air of your terrarium and refreshes the soil. So if you're making a closed top terrarium, then this is good step for you.

2. You could also use perlite. Perlite is used in cactus soil already, to help with drainage and it creates lighter/airy soil. I like using perlite because it a nice stark white, and it's a nice contrast to the other darker layers. So when you're thinking about presentation, I would suggest a pretty layer of perlite. 

3. I don't use sand too often, but when I do it's usually with cacti. It's a nice clean looking layer too! 

4. You could also use moss. I don't normally use this type of layer, but I imagine a pretty layer of bright green reindeer moss would look fabulous. 

I opted for activated charcoal. 

Now it's time for some soil...

I use cactus soil. If you don't have that on you, you could use a potting mix (which is specifically made for potted plants to allow drainage and circulation of air) with some perlite, or mix in some moss and rocks. This creates a lighter soil, and improves drainage. I would just get the cactus soil, it's already mixed and a 8qt bag is like $4-$9 depending where you go. 

I like to arrange my plants first...

I like to arrange my plants before I start planting them. This way I can see how many I can fit, what direction I want them facing, etc. 

Now use your finger to make little burrows for the plants to rest into. This way you can see if your plants sit too high or too low, then you can add more soil or take some out. 

When I have them where I want them, I add more soil and set them in their places firmly. 

I spray them a little with some water so they stick better, and it also cleans off any dirt that I don't want showing. 

Ok, now I add the rocks...

You can use any size you like, I went with the tiny ones this time. I pour them in one place and use a paint brush to help spread them out. This is so helpful, especially getting into those small spaces in the middle or on the sides. 

You can add larger rocks for some variety. 

Now if you have some little crystals, painted plastic dinosaurs, reindeer moss (the brightly colored kind), or some mini people, then go all out and decorate. 

Here's how the layers rest,

Rocks, charcoal, soil, rocks
here's one with perlite. 

Pebbles, perlite, soil, rocks, moss

don't worry if you see some green. Just a little algae, and shouldn't harm your babies. 

This was my first succulent ever. I used to water it too much, and it looked dead. I got sad and was tired of looking at it, so I put it outside and forgot about it for a few months, and then it came back to life. It's my little zombie plant. 

If you're using a vase that has a smaller opening at the top, then I would highly recommend using some long tweezers and a funnel made out of paper. This will help getting into those small space. 

So what do you think? Pretty simple right? The time you put into it is so worth it too! I love all the terrariums I've made. Especially this little cacti collection.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? I would love to hear from you!

<3 Josue 

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