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Giving Myself a Re-Purpose in Life: DIY Succulent Terrarium Tutorial

06.06.11 By //

I’m on a kick… a donating, paring down, lightening my decorative load, kick. My motto: If I don’t love it, away it goes. I seem to be epically failing this mission because every time I find something I am not loving with great adoration, I convince myself I can re-purpose it into something I will find fabulous. Perhaps one day I will get the hang of this and get over my hoarding ways…

Until then, let the repurposing begin!

Behold, my collection of apothecary jars. I have about 7 of these things in various sizes, and quite frankly I am a bit tired of finding ways to fill them with each coming season or holiday. Enter brilliant idea for a succulent terrarium collection…

Let’s hope my brown thumb holds off for just a bit and I might actually avoid killing these fine specimens for at least a month? Fingers crossed…

Since I have had some interesting items in these jars over the last few years a good cleaning was needed. In the hopes that I don’t kill these plants with a toxic chemical residue that lingers from the cleaning of them, I chose to use simple household variety vinegar. This stuff does an incredible job on things like glass. I have never seen these jars sparkle as they did for that brief moment in time! Throw out the windex folks and put some vinegar into a squirt bottle, I promise it gets the job done! I didn’t even have to wipe them, I simply added a bit of vinegar to each jar, gave them a good swirl, and turned them on end to drip dry onto a towel, and literally not a spot or streak remained. Perfect crystal clean and clear. Let’s hope the rest of the project can follow suit.

My local big box garden and hardware store sells a fun variety of succulents and they are extremely inexpensive. I chose a several different specimens in different colors and flowering types. Contrast is king when you are arranging plantings. The greater the contrast the lower the number required for that big impact look.

Aren’t they pretty? Just look at those blooms, such incredible color in such a small package!

I arranged them in groups as they might look best in the jars to give them maximum exposure with fabulous color and height contrast.

I found an article on ehow that gave me instruction on the how-to portion of constructing a succulent terrarium, and included the items I would need to complete the job (hopefully it helps me to keep from killing these new additions to my family).

Activated Carbon to remove toxins from the jar and small pebbles for drainage, which I chose to purchase along with the Carbon from the Pet store, though the fact that the pebbles were glow in the dark was completely an accident. Somehow I didn’t notice this glaring neon sticker until I took this photo…oops! Hopefully that doesn’t kill the plants, though I suppose if it’s ok for fish, it’s ok for plants… I am not positive about that, however.

Wash your pebbles or gravel thoroughly before you add them to your tank… I mean, terrarium…

I split the bag of gravel between two jars, which gave each jar about 3″ of gravel. Since the jars are tall I used more than is actually necessary for the terrarium, simply for the visual benefit it would lend to this project. Then add a thin layer of the activated carbon and then directly on top of that, a decent amount of special succulent soil which is prime for use with Cactus Varieties. The nature of these plants requires excellent drainage and so the soil is formulated accordingly. Be sure to adhere to this portion if at all possible or you run the risk of drowning your plants in poorly draining soil. Just as with the gravel I added more soil than absolutely necessary to give each jar more aesthetic appeal… it worked!

Dig a hole large enough for the root ball of each succulent and lightly press each plant into place. You will want to water a bit upon planting to help your roots find their way as they adjust to their new home. Don’t over water, these plants will not react well if you do! Just a little will do.


They turned out so beautifully and I couldn’t be more excited to have found a new use for my jars that won’t require me to refill them each season, and kept me from needing to donate them!

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