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How to Make a Cactus Terrarium

Updated on May 29, 2012
Terrariums are a great way to easily grow plants inside and get creative.
Terrariums are a great way to easily grow plants inside and get creative. | Source

Cactus Terrariums Are Like Having a Little Desert At Home

All my life, every time I have seen people with potted cacti in their homes, I have been fascinated. I never thought to try it on my own. For people who don't live near any deserts, this can be especially interesting. Cacti are also one of the houseplants that are easiest to take care of.

Building these terrariums can be a lot of fun. Any kind of terrarium building can be a great rainy day project for yourself and your kids if they want to help, too! It can be a fun science lesson for them. If you want to make a thing of it, and particularly if your children are homeschooled, make sure you brush up on your cactus facts so you have a wealth of cactus knowledge to give out.

Having houseplants around your home is a great idea, because these plants produce oxygen, and that is good for your health! It’s a good idea to place the cactus terrarium in a bedroom because cacti produce more oxygen at night.

How To Terrarium

Things You'll Need

Container for your terrarium – Anything works, glass is great. As long as it has a wide opening and enough room for everything you want to put in, its fine! I’ve even seen a bunch of them done in large glass pitchers (the kind used for lemonade and iced tea).

Gravel or pebbles

Soil – General potting soil is fine, but they do make soil for cacti

Bag Sand – Not beach sand!

Horticulture Charcoal

Tongs or gloves

Cacti and Succulents – An odd number looks best

Spanish moss

Other neat items to add after, I’ve seen some people use figurines and stones. You can consider collecting items from the world as you travel and explore. Things like seashells, neat rocks, driftwood, sea glass can look really great and give your terrarium uniqueness. Just be sure to wash them well with hot water before adding them.


How it's Done

  1. Choose and thoroughly clean a container. Low, wide terracotta pots are awesome, also any glass jars with a wide opening.
  2. Line your dirt and gravel in the following order
    • 2" gravel
    • 1/4" horticulture charcoal
    • 1" spanish moss
    • 4" sand/soil mix (1 part sand, 2 parts soil)
  3. Dig little holes in the dirt in your terrarium and add your chosen cacti. Use tongs or gloves if you're afraid of getting pricked.
  4. Add whatever else you wanted and put the terrarium in indirect sunlight.

Cacti Are a Very Easy Houseplant to Care For

Cactus need indirect sunlight and very low water.Since cacti are a desert plant, they thrive from drought. It will probably only need to be watered about once a month, but you can do a couple simple tips I learned from a fellow gardener.

  1. Touch your finger to the soil on the top of the pot. If any sticks to your finger, it still has enough water.
  2. Learn the plant and its container. When you lift it up, if it is heavy, it still has water in the bottom. If it feels lighter, its time for a watering.

Always use a nice lukewarm water of good quality to water your plants. If you wouldn't drink it, don't expect your plants to!


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    • profile image

      hoho 3 years ago

      cool. but pls tell how 2 propagate cactus. nice list

    • Cheds profile image

      Heather Henley 5 years ago from Buckfield, Maine

      I am almost positive it can have a lid.

    • profile image

      Theresa 5 years ago

      For cacti, does the container have to be open or can it have a lid?

    • Cheds profile image

      Heather Henley 5 years ago from Buckfield, Maine

      That's what I was thinking! I told my friends we have to be on the lookout for neat containers while we're yard sailing.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I think this is something the kids and I will have to try over the summer. I bet I could find some neat bottles or pots at yard sales!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Very interesting! would love to try this one!!! Great, thank you!

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      Oh, I am SOOO glad you wrote this! I have a prickly pear that is getting new leaves even as the ones on the bottom are dying. I've been completely baffled about whether I'm watering them too much. Your simple tip is one I've never heard before - and I grew up in the Arizona desert!

      I also didn't know they produce more oxygen at night. Fascinating tidbit, that one...

      Voted well.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 years ago

      Cheds, Sounds pretty interesting, something I would want to do in this desert like condition..Your pictures looks so good. Thanks for sharing this. Have a lovely day.

    • Cheds profile image

      Heather Henley 5 years ago from Buckfield, Maine

      That's a shame! Why did it have to go?

      I believe the strategy is just tongs and a good eye.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Same question! Nice one, great looking. My daughter in law had one she moved round the apartment because there wasn't any space anywhere. It grew well, considering..then when she had a baby it had to go. We all missed it.

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Nice. Maybe I could keep cacti alive. I am notorious for accidentally killing plants. Question: how would you get the cacti into that vase in your photo and arrange them so beautifully?