Pinspiration Monday: DIY fish bowl terrarium

For today’s “Pinspiration Monday” feature, I’m talking terrariums.

Everyone and their sister seems to be jumping on this glass-enclosed bandwagon, but the trend makes total sense. I’m SURE I can’t be the only one with a black thumb when it comes to growing things – If you nodded solemnly to that statement, easy-to-maintain terrariums are pretty much the perfect solution for our woes. Often filled with low maintenance plants (like succulents or cacti), terrariums are a great experimental foray for the failed gardener.

Source: Sweet Peach (via The Clean Slate)

In fact, I’ve actually managed to keep a few succulents alive on our back deck for two months now with little to no attention. I think I’ve discovered my new favorite plant.

Although I had been thinking about planting my own DIY terrarium, I didn’t have any real motivation for the near future until I stumbled upon the dusty bowl pictured below. Snagged at a local estate tag sale over the weekend, this big glass goblet of a container (albeit disgusting and filled with, what is that?? Dusty aquarium rocks and charcoal?) was the impromptu and unplanned beginning to my terrarium project. Costing only a buck, I couldn’t walk away without it.

After dumping the old fillings into a plastic bag and giving the bowl a thorough bath in the kitchen sink, my tag sale find was looking good as new. Although I should mention that I DID end up keeping the little porcelain lady figurine and mini terracotta bowl – More on what I did with those in a moment.

For my terrarium fillings, I needed the following:

  • rocks for drainage
  • potting soil
  • plants

I wanted to spend as little on this project as possible, so for the rocks I simply grabbed an old grocery bag and, while taking a walk with John and the pup, I filled it with landscaping pebbles from neighborhood parking lots. I wanted to make sure I didn’t keep any critters in the mix, so they were given a thorough rinse and scrub in the kitchen sink before being placed in the bowl.

For the plants, I spent about $13 at Lowe’s on several different varieties of succulents. I won’t even attempt to identify them – I chose these four for their different heights and textures. It’s my rule of thumb to choose an odd number of items to group together and to have a broad range of shapes. So, looking at the set below, the single flowering succulent on the far left was going to be planted on its own in that mini terracotta pot I saved, while the remaining three would live in the finished terrarium.

Oh, and my favorite terrariums have little inhabitants (one of my favorites is seen here). So that little porcelain lady who once lived in the original ruins of the bowl would soon be reigning amongst the lush vegetation of the finished, redone terrarium.

As to the potting soil, I was directed by my Pinterest source to use soil made specifically for succulents and/or cacti, but I planted those established succulents I mentioned at the beginning of this post in ordinary potting soil and they’re doing just fine. Besides, I tend to use a single bag of potting soil for many different planting projects (since I don’t do it all that often), so I wanted to pick out an all-purpose formula that I could use for any range of plantings.

I first filled the bottom of the bowl with the red rocks I washed and dried. Then came the soil (I filled it about halfway up the inside of the bowl) and a layer of the white rocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab nearly enough of the white rocks, so I just laid them around the outside for looks.

Time to get my plant on…It was pretty straight-forward – Dig a little soil away to open a hole for the succulent and roots to burrow down into, then press it lightly into place. After that, I used my fingers to sift the displaced sil back into place up to the flowering part of the plant. Definitely not rocket science…In my opinion, the planting isn’t the tough part, it’s keeping the dern things ALIVE that poses the challenge.

Luckily, things went smoothly with both plantings and I was done and sitting back to admire my two newly living bowls in no time.

First, we’ll check out the terrarium. I just love how green and fresh it looks – So much luxurious color and dense texture. Having the little porcelain lady in there kind of makes it seem like a story to me – If I was a child I would love to gaze into this thing for hours making up little imaginary stories. In fact, I remember my grandmother having a terrarium in her home when I was little. I spent a lot of time looking into the depths and mentally playing with the little porcelain figure nestled into the shadows of overhanging leaves. Maybe that’s why I’ve been craving a terrarium of my own – It brings back the memories…

I unfortunately had a rough time coming up with the perfect place to put the terrarium indoors – Working around three investigative animals who like to get into anything they can isn’t easy. So, for now, the new terrarium is taking up residence on our outdoor dinner table along with a DIY burlap runner I made and a couple of candles.

As for the mini planter, with nothing but a single bloom to contend with, it was cinch to put together. I really adore the simplicity of it though, plus the color combo of the blue from the pot and the vibrant green from the succulent is perfection.

He’s now living on the entry table, a high narrow place that the cats typically avoid. At least, here’s hoping.

What are your favorite things to plant? Have you ever tackled a DIY terrarium before? Oh, and does anyone know if succulents are okay for animals, should they somehow get into them? So far, I haven’t had any stray eatings – crossing my fingers it stays that way.

P.S. Today’s the last day to enter our giveaway!! Click over and get in on the action – You have until midnight tonight. Good luck!

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