The Dainty Desert: A Terrarium How-To

I have been wanting to build my own terrarium for a while now; today is the day that I finally made it happen. I must say, I am thrilled with the results! I guess the green thumb that runs on my mom’s side of the family has finally caught up to me. Actually, talk to me in a few months to see if I’m able to keep this thing alive. I don’t exactly have the best track record. (Shout out to my girlfriend K Sal, who will never let me forget that I let our love fern, AKA a bamboo plant, die.)

I love the idea of a terrarium for countless reasons. Top on my list, however, are how unbelievably attractive they are and how easy they are to maintain. In researching how to go about this endeavor, I came to realize that there are actually two different types of terrariums: wet and dry. The main difference is in the type of plant that is used. The nature of the plant determines how the terrarium will be built, the type of container that will be used, and how the terrarium is cared for once assembled.

Because I built a dry terrarium, that will be the focus of today’s post. You’ll want to select a variety of cacti and succulents, as well as an open container. I’ll be the first to admit that it took me far too long to decide on which plants to purchase, as there are so many beauties to choose from. Ikea and Home Depot have fabulous selections. Be sure to buy enough plants to fill your container while still allowing enough room for the plants to grow. In terms of the container, West Elm, Etsy, and World Market have some great options. I ultimately opted for this recycled glass container.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

  • First, fill the bottom of your container with decorative stones. The stones will allow for adequate drainage.
  • Second, add a thin layer of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal will absorb any odors that may eventually build up. I ordered mine on Amazon, but it can also be found in the aquarium section of most pet stores.
  • Third, add a layer of moss. The moss will prevent the soil from seeping down into the lower layers.
  • Fourth, add a generous layer of soil. Make sure the layer is thick enough to contain the roots.
  • Fifth, arrange your plants to ensure that they will fit once planted. Once you’re satisfied with your arrangement, plant away!
  • The final step is optional, as it is more for aesthetics than practicality. If desired, add a thin layer of sand.

As mentioned previously, maintaining a terrarium is extremely simple. For dry terrariums in particular, you’ll want to check for moisture once a week and spray with water as needed. Furthermore, dry terrariums do best when exposed to bright, yet indirect sunlight. I have mine situated under a south-facing window in my bedroom. Looking at it is an instant mood booster. Plus, it adds so much character to my room. I think I’m in love!

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4 thoughts on “The Dainty Desert: A Terrarium How-To

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