As gardeners, we love going outside, breathing in the fresh air, and getting our hands a little dirty but it is also important to bring some of that life and beauty into our homes. We will admit that it’s okay to leave the dirty mess outside and just bring the beauty you’ve planted inside with you; that’s what we do.
Normally, we don’t recommend succulents or cacti for terrariums. They don’t like being wet or cooped up inside a glass house. But everyone loves them, they look great as specimens (as opposed to leafy ferns and other plants that thrive in terrarium conditions), and they’re really easy to plant.
So, if you’re going to use them, only water the actual plant in small amounts (a turkey baster is a great tool for this), never cover the terrarium or put them in a cloche, and accept this simple philosophy: You might kill the plant, but remember how much fun you had making your terrarium. Plus, it’s way cheaper than cut flowers.
After you’ve picked the succulents you want to use, you’ll need to gather a few other items to begin.
Craft sand comes in many colors and you can have a lot of fun with this. Get at least three choices that complement each other and make you happy.
Find a glass container that you like. (We prefer one that has a top large enough to work with and sides that are straight so you can really see the sand design.) Lay down your base layer of sand evenly across the bottom.
Begin pouring the different colors of sand in piles all around the sides like this. Be careful not to fill up the center.
When you’ve got the sand to a height you’re happy with, lay down a layer of pebbles to help with drainage and to keep the sand stable for when you add your plants.
Then you want to add your soil. Always use cactus mix as it’s much looser than normal potting soil and works better for succulents. You don’t need much; just add an inch or so and then make a little hole in the center. Do this by pushing the soil down (and maybe taking a tad out). This is why you don’t want too much sand in the middle.
Pull your succulent out of its container (2″ varieties work best) and shake off as much soil as possible without damaging the roots. Place it into the hole in your soil. Do this with as many plants as you can fit (or just use one if you’d prefer). Don’t worry about the plants being crowded… most succulents actually like that.
This video, provided by Garden Answer, contains a tutorial on how to grow succulents in a planter filled with attractive layers of decorative sand. A glass planter that holds succulents above several distinct layers of colored sand looks stunning. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to provide the plants with a good growing environment while keeping the sand neat. Watch the video to learn the trick to getting it right.
It turns that the secret is to have the succulents actually growing in a smaller planter, which is then surrounded by gorgeous layers of sand. This allows the sand layers to look pretty without interference from water or plant roots.
The entire process is shown from start to finish, with plenty of speeded-up timelapse sequences. Most needed tools turn out to be common household items. A simple piece of paper that is appropriately stiff turns out to be the key to arranging the sand into neat, distinct layers. Try watching the video today to see exactly how this works.