How to DIY Terrariums Just Like on Pinterest. Please Don’t Kiss the Cactus!

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Fazel Huts, I Love My LIfe

DIY Terrariums with Cactus and Succulents

Inspired by a photo that I saw on Pinterest and encouraged by the display of little cactus and succulents by the entrance of the supermarket I frequent, I have been making terrariums. I knew I had some glass globe containers somewhere in the garage. As I have been packing and moving for some time into a new house, I hoped to find them and make the terrariums as gifts for my old neighbors. I imagined myself with my family walking up to each door with terrarium in hand and saying good bye. That never happened. Too busy, too grimy from cleaning the old house, too tired, and I didn’t find the glass globes until the last day of moving.

Yet, I started collecting the little plants each time I would pass the display at the grocery store over the past few weeks. I placed each one (or two or three) in the kitchen window of my new home.  I have always wanted a box window above the sink in my kitchen and the new house has a lovely one. While I unpacked, I was delighted to find an array of glass containers that I could use for my project. I had left over decorative stones from various crafty things I had used them for in the past. I never throw anything useful away and as I was packing and unpacking, I accumulated quite a few items I could use for the terrariums. I had glass containers of different sizes and shapes. I had decorative rocks, sand, and even a small bag of potting soil. I actually found the potting soil in the garage of the new house – now that was like a dream! I told my hubby that all I needed to get started on the terrariums was some potting soil and he said, “Oh, I saw some in the garage.” That was a cool coincidence!

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2014

My Terrarium Project

I found that I truly love making the terrariums and it brought back memories of gardening with my Dad in our back yard when I was growing up. He would bring home potted plants and I would help him re-plant them in the garden or in planter boxes. I even had my own set of gardening tools. I also loved planting flowers in the front yard when my kids were little. This is like gardening on a small scale. I have never been very good at keeping house plants alive, so having succulents that don’t need much care right in the window above the sink is about as low maintenance as one could get. Most of all, I love arranging the window, it looks beautiful!

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2014 http://mizmeliz.comI will admit, I have gotten a little carried away with this project. Especially since I decided to keep the plants and not give them as gifts and because my market keeps putting out various plants that appeal to me. I have become addicted to buying them and a little obsessed with making the terrariums. Well, that is until last night. I still have pain in my fingertips as I type this. Which is why I call this tale, “Please Don’t Kiss the Cactus!”

Most of the small plants that I had purchased so far had prickly little spines on them that hurt a little bit if I touched them full on. So, I had learned to carefully pick them up and move them when replanting without getting hurt. My hands and skin have been toughened lately by all the moving and a little prick now and then didn’t bother me. (Stop chuckling, silly!)  So, yesterday I stopped at the store to get milk and I ended up buying three more plants. One of which looked like a miniature prickly pear cactus. It was so cute, I had to have it. I am not sorry I got it, I just wish I was more careful!

A Full Size Prickly Pear Plant

A Full Size Prickly Pear Plant

This plant had a little handle taped onto it’s little pot. That should have been my first clue to be careful with it. As I transplanted it, my hand brushed up against the plant and I instantly felt the tiny little spurs grab on to my skin. Ouch! It really hurt, like a ant bite. It was a sharp and quick nerve-like pain. Immediately, I touched the spot on my hand between my thumb and forefinger and I felt the tiny little splinter. I looked at my hand and saw about five minute beige hairs sticking straight out. Wow, those are sticky little pricks! (Sorry!)

I thought, “Okay, so as soon as I am done, I will grab some tweezers and pull those out. Case closed. I can do this.” Just then, as I was carefully placing the soil with a plastic spoon around the newly transplanted death plant, I mean sweet miniature prickly pear cactus, my husband came up behind me and put his arms around my waist for a special loving moment. At that second, I knew I had screwed up. Both hands in the pot, the little plant fell over and I scooped it up to right it and it got me. Tiny, almost invisible, miniature spurs were stuck in all of my fingertips and between my fingers. Yikes! It felt like my hands had become a prickly pear plant, everywhere I touched either had spines or felt spines. I quickly went to the bathroom and grabbed my tweezers, stepped over to the window for the best light in the bedroom and looked at my hands. I could see the spines, but not well enough to pluck them out without breaking them off.

115269Luckily, my husband recently acquired a very powerful magnifying glass with a light like the big ones that jewelers use. He just installed it on his desk when we moved. I ran downstairs. (When I say “ran” downstairs, if you know me, you probably know that means I went down the stairs as quickly as I could. “Ran down” just sounds better.) I said, I need your magnifying glass light thing!” And I looked at my hands. I showed Lito the tiny little spines. There were hundreds of them. We tried to pull them out with the tweezers. It was painful to move my fingers as they brushed together. I wasn’t crying or anything, just annoyed and puzzled with myself for not knowing better. I have gloves, but I was too excited and anxious to plant my new lovely mini cacti that I didn’t put them on.

My wonderful, amazing, brilliant husband left me alone to my plucking and got online to see how to treat this situation. He found a great tip that I will share with you now. If you ever find yourself in this situation you will know what to do. White glue. Yes, Elmer’s Glue All. It was cool and soothing as I poured it all over my hands. Let it dry and peel it off, the glochids will come off with the dried glue. This was much like waxing, but cool and comforting. You know that feeling when you have a toothache that is so bad, you would actually beg for a root canal? Well, I seriously would have done anything to remove those spines.

Now that my garden is complete, despite my sore hands, I will gladly share the quick and easy steps involved in making your own terrariums…with caution:

  • buy two or three little plants, each one usually had at least two pieces that can be separated at the roots.
  • clean a large glass container, like a bowl or globe, with soap and water.
  • place decorative rocks, sand, or soil on the bottom of the bowl.
  • put about an inch of potting soil on top of the rocks.
  • make a small hole or move all the soil to one side to make room for the roots.
  • carefully (I mean really carefully if you are replanting a cactus!) remove the plant from it’s pot and separate the pieces being cautious not to break the roots.
  • place one piece in the soil and cover with some more soil while pushing into and pressing down on the soil to steady the plant.
  • repeat steps above with one or two varying styles of plants.
  • add some water to moisten the plants.
  • add decorative stones, pebbles, or sand around the plants.
  • Sit back and admire the beautiful terrarium you just made!
  • Get the tweezers and a magnifying glass and have white glue on hand…just in case! Better yet, wear gloves.

When I was done with removing the glue from my hands and I finished my newest terrarium planting, my husband said one thing that cheered me up. He said, “At least you didn’t kiss that plant!”

Heck ya!

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2014 "Please Don't Kiss the Cactus!"

I love the complete look of these terrariums arranged in the window box.

If you like reading funny true stories like this, read Fazel Huts.

Do you have a gardening story? I would love to hear your experience and tips. Leave a comment.

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2 responses to “How to DIY Terrariums Just Like on Pinterest. Please Don’t Kiss the Cactus!”

  1. mizmeliz says:

    I was surprised at how well the glue worked, but mostly it was soothing to pour it on my fingers. I would love to see the plants and learn how to get them to root like that, does she put them in water?

  2. Ann says:

    My roommate loves succulents too. For years, she has been wandering the neighborhood and picking up bits and pieces of plants (sometimes even asking before she broke a piece off), and getting them to root & grow.
    Some are in pots, but my yard is now covered in lots of mini-landscapes of differents types and colors. I never knew there were so many different varieties.
    Thanks for that tip about the glue; who knew something so simple would work? I’ll definitely be using that one in the future!

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