Growing a terrarium: A great project for the family


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — If only the rest of life were as simple as growing succulents in an open terrarium.

It is, according to Michelle Slatalla, editor in chief of Gardenista — gardenista.com.

“All you have to do is find a few like-minded plants, introduce them to each other, and place them in an environment they like,” she says.

“Then leave them alone to get to know each other. That’s pretty much all there is to creating an open terrarium.”

In fact, a larger DIY terrarium you and your kids create can be just the thing you need for an Easter table centerpiece. Surround it with some mini bunnies and colorful eggs and you have nature at its very best. Easy-care smaller terrariums can also make thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts for the women in your life.

Here are Michelle’s step-by-step, no-fail instructions:

Need to know: There are two kinds of terrariums, open vessels (for succulents and cacti) and closed containers for humidity-loving plants. An open terrarium will dry out quickly; it’s suitable for growing plants that love sun and don’t require a moist environment.

Keep it simple: The only materials you need in addition to a container are pebbles, charcoal, soil, small succulents, and herb snips to trim them.

Step 1: Spread a 1- to 2-inch base of pebbles at the bottom of the container. This will aid drainage in the event that you water the terrarium (which, by the way you should not do except once a month — and then, with teaspoons of water).

Step 2: Sprinkle a 1-inch layer of charcoal on top of the pebbles to filter the soil.

Step 3: Add a 2-inch layer of cactus potting soil (it’s specially formulated for succulents and other plants that like a dry environment).

Step 4: Before planting them, arrange the succulents in the container with plenty of room to grow. Don’t overcrowd them. Trim with herb snips, if necessary, to give them room to breathe.

Step 5: Hollow out a spot in the potting soil for the plants. Firmly pat soil to cover their roots. Give each plant a teaspoonful of water but don’t overwater.