I’ve been wanting to make a terrarium for quite some time now, so when I found this glass vessel on clearance at West Elm during our trip to Portland I pounced on it! For a step-by-step how-to on this easy project, join me after the jump.

Materials List  a small collection of succulent plants | cactus soil or other well-draining soil | gardener’s charcoal | green moss | gravel | a glass vessel of some sort to house your terrarium | large bowl for mixing soil | trowel | watering can with a long stem | gardening gloves (optional)

1. Thoroughly clean and dry your glass vessel so your ecosystem can start life with a fresh, clean start.

2. Put a layer of gravel into the bottom 1-2 inches high. This will aid drainage in your terrarium.

3. Put a thin layer of gardener’s charcoal over the gravel. The charcoal will help keep your terrarium fresh and prevent mold.

4. Put a layer of gardening moss over the charcoal. The moss is intended to keep the soil apart from the drainage system (i.e. the gravel and charcoal layer). If you’re not into moss you can also use a layer of horticultural fabric to separate the soil from the gravel and charcoal.

5. Mix your soil. Scoop a trowel-full of soil into your mixing bowl and add in a small cup of gardening charcoal. Mix thoroughly until the charcoal is blended into the soil. If you can’t see any of the charcoal, add more. If you see mostly charcoal, add more soil until you have a decent ratio of about 90/10.

Next, add some water to the mix and mix until the soil is moist. I mixed in my water by hand. When your hands are coated with a layer of dirt when you pull them out, you’re done.

6. Add a thin layer of soil on top of the moss in your terrarium.

7. Arrange your succulent plants for placement. Make sure to look at it from all angles to make sure there aren’t any awkward blank spots. You’re just laying them out and making sure you like the look prior to planting. TIP: Plants shouldn’t touch the top of the glass or push up against the sides as they need room to grow.

8. Layer in soil around your plants to secure. Make sure each plant feels safe and sturdy and is pointing upright. In a tight space it can be hard to make sure they’re straight so take your time.

9. Fill in the space around your plants with another layer of moss or gravel.  I chose moss for a more lush, green look, but either will work. This step makes your terrarium feel finished. You can also layer in some larger rocks or driftwood to add more texture to your final result.

10. Give your terrarium a good watering before placing and enjoy!  I also cleaned  the inside of the glass by wetting a paper towel and wrapping it around a chopstick. This made it easier to clean dirt from the far away inside areas, making it ready to place on my coffee table.

There you have it! I am loving my terrarium and it’s so easy to care for. You just have to give it a good watering about once a week. If you have a deep, round vessel like mine, roll the bowl around after watering to distribute the water to all areas. Don’t overwater! If you water too much, that could lead to problems, so watch the soil around the sides to watch for dryness before watering. If you go for it please document it on your blog, too! I would love to see a photo of your project.

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