Terrariums: a DIY Love Story

I’ve got terrariums on the brain. The one pictured above? I have it on my desk. I look at it. Then I also look at the picture of the same terrarium that I have on my computer. Desk, computer. Desk, computer. True story.

I saw the most amazing hanging assortment at Grounded in Encinitas, where you can buy supplies to make your own:

and I thought: that’s what I’ve been missing my whole life!

I didn’t buy them that day though. I just let it stew inside me like…well, a stew, til it boiled over and I woke one day with an unmistakable mission: MAKE. A. TERRARIUM.

You can get the cute little 6-inch orbs (which have a flat bottom so you can set them on a table) online here in bulk for less than the $14 or so apiece at Grounded (and if you click the link my kids’ school district gets a percentage donated toward their science, tech, art and music programs!), but I had to buy some just to carry out the calling immediately.

I wanted to populate my terrariums with air plants, or Tillandsia, which can grow without soil. Grounded has the best assortment of air plants that I’ve seen locally, but again, they’re at a premium ($4-9 apiece) to what I’ve seen on Amazon where you can buy in bulk (for around $2-$3 apiece for the more common varieties — more for exotics or larger plants). Tillandsia like bright, filtered light — so within 6 feet of a sunny window is ideal. Air plants are pretty low maintenance — just soak them in a bowl of water for an hour a week.

I also wanted to fill my terrariums with colored sand and preserved moss, which I got from my local Michael’s Craft Store. The sand was $2.99 a bag and the moss, for the colorful variety pack, was $7.99 a bag.


Then, just stick the plants in anywhere you’d like:


I played around with upcycling some bordeaux glasses I have:

and conceptualized a display using some glass flower vases I have stashed in a cabinet:

The possibilities are bounded only by the number of glass containers that you have. Old jam jars, vases, whatever — they’re all good.

I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I love about terrariums. Simplicity of construction? Ease of care? Yes. But maybe, in some way, it’s the ability to have complete control of a tiny spherical universe when we live in a world that can be so hard to understand.

Now, to wrestle with the question of how many terrariums is too many.



  • Linda Kim
    April 16, 2013 - 8:51 AM | Permalink

    I love this idea!! So beautiful and elegant!

    • April 16, 2013 - 9:44 AM | Permalink

      Thanks Linda! And so easy — you can put one together in less than 5 minutes!

  • April 16, 2013 - 11:14 AM | Permalink

    You make this look so pretty, and simple! Like… possibly, *I* could pull it off. And I really want to! My office needs a cheery splash of color! Thanks for some great inspiration 😀

    • April 16, 2013 - 11:44 AM | Permalink

      Aw, thanks Sophie — I’ve seen your styling, I’m sure yours would be even more gorgeous!

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