Build your own terrarium

Homemade terrarium

Terrariums, succulents and air plants have been growing in popularity over the last few years. There are several companies in the UK that provide terrarium kits or pre-assembled terrariums but they’re usually pretty costly. Here’s a quick guide to make your own trendy (and low-cost!) terrarium from scratch and keep it healthy in a UK climate.

First you’ll need a container – any glass jar or container will do. Old Kilner jars, vases, fish bowls or any container designed to be turned into a terrarium. I got mine from Urban Outfitters UK but there are also plenty on Amazon, eBay, etsy and other suppliers. I prefer an open terrarium. It means you’ll have to water/maintain it and there’s less of the “magic” of a self sustaining terrarium but there’s also none of the mould. Most closed terrariums I’ve seen go misty or get filled with mould or algae, so I’d avoid it.

Next, the substrate. Mine is filled with the following:
– 1 inch of gravel (I used aquarium gravel as I could buy a small bag of it cheaply. And it’s pretty). This is for filtration purposes.
– 1/2 inch of activated carbon (keeps everything clean and sterile)
– 1 inch (or more, if you have the room) of soil. Ideally this is a sandy soil for use with cacti and succulents but I just used regular potting soil and a year on I’m fine.

Assemble your terrarium with the gravel at the base. Then a layer of active carbon. Then the top soil. Add your plants, leaving sufficient room to grow.

Below is my terrarium when freshly planted.

Homemade terrarium

Expect some plants to thrive and some to die. Succulents have various watering needs and they may not all be able to cohabit together with the same watering regime. For me, my Pachyphytum bracteosum at the back began to go black and rot at the base, and so was removed. Luckily with succulents, you can just cut off the unhealthy part and replant the rest. The offcuts are fantastic at rooting. It was replaced in the terrarium with some sort of Aloe which is doing well.

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