Tag Archives: succulents

Creating a Terrarium

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IMG_4033Terrariums can be lovely mini gardens, perfect for sitting on the table and brightening up the house. Any clear container can be used for a terrarium, but it’s nice to find an unusual shape. We started with a big plastic tub that used to hold mini-pretzels.

Our plastic container.

Our plastic container.

The kids collected some gravel from our front garden beds to place in the bottom of the container for drainage. You can buy decorative pebbles or gravel for this. Using different coloured materials will create a pretty layering effect on the side of the terrarium. We just used what we had available to reduce costs.

Adding gravel.

Adding gravel.

As we wanted to plant succulents into our terrarium we did buy proper cacti and succulent potting mix. We used this to fill the container up to about half-way. Both L and A had a go at putting the potting mix into the container, but quite a lot of it got spilt! Once the dirt was in, we tapped the container down gentled to help the soil settle.

Then it was time to add the plants. We used three small succulents, which the kids chose from Bunnings. I removed some leaves from each of the plants to use for propagating new succulents before I planted them in the terrarium. I carefully placed each succulent roughly equidistant around the container, patting the soil down gently and then watering them in.  We added moist sphagnum moss as the top layer, carefully placing it around the plants, but not too close to the stems to avoid rot. This will help to retain moisture. Alternately we could have used small pebbles or rocks to finish off (we already had the moss for our carnivorous plants).

Getting the potting mix in the container.

Getting the potting mix in the container.

The succulents we chose are all different shades of green. Choosing plants with different coloured foliage can increase the aesthetics of the terrarium, and of course, there are many plants that do well in terariums aside from succulents. I think our next one will have to contain some ferns.

When the lid to the container is placed on the top, the moisture is trapped inside the terrarium, causing condensation on the plastic. This keeps the terrarium moist without watering very often, though it also obscures the plants. The plants have everything they need within the closed terrarium, but if it is too wet inside, you can remove the lid for a day or two or as long as needed. Or you can leave your terrarium open if you prefer, and treat it more like your average indoor plant.

Looking from above.

 

UPDATE 19/3/15: L dropped the terrarium! Luckily the container is plastic, so it bounced, but one of the plants catapulted right out the top (I had the lid off allowing the soil to dry a bit), along with a good chunk of the moss. So the poor plant lost all but two of its leaves. We have replanted it in the hopes that succulents are so hardy it will survive, but it looks a little sad at the moment. I have just left the soil bare and the lid off as the weather is beginning to cool a little and is more humid, so it is less likely to dry out too much. L felt so bad about dropping the terrarium, but these things happen! The other two plants are doing very well and we are seeing new growth.

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Propagating Succulents

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After painting their terracotta pots, the kids wanted to plant something in them. We have a single succulent plant growing out by our letterbox that seems pretty hardy, and I thought it would be fun to try to propagate some new plants from it’s cuttings.

Cuttings drying out.

Cuttings drying out.

The succulent in our garden is a good size, so we were able to take several stem cuttings. We removed the lower leaves from the bottom of each stem. We left the leaves and the cuttings to dry out for a few days.

Succulents generally like well-drained soil, so L collected some red gravel from one of our garden beds to place in the bottom of each pot to improve drainage. She then filled each pot with some cacti and succulent potting mix. My mother had told me to try dipping the base of the cuttings into honey prior to planting them. This is supposed to kill any bacteria on the cutting, and improve growth. I’d never tried this before, but we pulled out some honey and dipped each cutting in. It’s hard to know whether it worked, but all of our cuttings survived, and had new growth on them, so I think we will use honey on our cuttings again in the future. L placed a single stem cutting into each pot, patted the soil down and gently watered them in.

Gravel used for drainage.

Gravel used for drainage.

Adding soil.

Adding soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placing the cuttings into the soil.

Placing the cuttings into the soil.

Patting the soil down around the cutting.

Patting the soil down around the cutting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We placed them in a sunny spot, and checked on them every day, keeping the soil moist, but not too wet. After a week or so, we noticed some of the cuttings had produced some new leaves, and some little roots had appeared near the base of the stems.

All of these succulents in their decorated pots were given away as Christmas presents, mostly to their teachers. The kids were so proud to show off the pots that they painted and the plants that they had grown. They made unique gifts that were well received and appreciated.

Watered in and ready to grow.

Watered in and ready to grow.

As we began to clean out the laundry this week, in preparation for painting, we discovered some unused pots under the laundry tub. These will make excellent vessels for our next round of succulent growing. I would like to try propagating some cuttings from other types of succulents too.