Terrarium, v.4 (Oh, the Shame)

We had so much fun globe trotting this past summer, that not only do we have a dusty badge of honor around this home, but we also lost a good, long battle with our dinos, Leonard and Mabel. See that empty plot of terrain?

We had some wonderful home-sitters during our travels, but while going over our checklist of things such as feed the cats and water the patio plants, we left out the memo for our dear terrarium, v.3. As our Instagram follower @sohappyhome said, perhaps the dinosaurs were an omen for its inevitable fate. Ah, touché.

In our defense, v.3 went strong for a full year. On the other hand, it was our third version of a similar plant + dino combo, so for v.4, we switched it up.

With the help of a few air plants and a cheery penguin from our patio planters, we started over yet again. This time, we went with something we hope can handle a bit more neglect than the usual houseplant – succulents! We picked up a trio of buds from our local florist Fleur, and re-potted our vase from scratch. (And to be honest, our current set up needed a good scrub down, as minerals from our watering was making it a bit hard to see inside.)

The very patient lady at Fleur told us to water just once a week; this we can handle. Kiwi the shop pup – and easily the tiniest, sweetest angel of a pooch – helped us pick out our bundle of succulents, which we likely couldn’t have done without her. Already, we’re off to a good start.

If you’re brave enough to follow our advice (although to be fair, we know how to make a decent terrarium by now, it’s simply the black thumb issue that’s getting in the way) here’s what you’ll need:

You only need about 1-2″ of drainage rocks, but we pushed ours (it’s actually aquarium gravel!) up along the side of the vase so it only appears deeper. It’s followed with a thin layer of charcoal and a good 4″ of cactus soil (again, it doesn’t look like 4″, due to the way we pushed up the rocks – our succulents are situated in the center of the vase at the deepest point). Remember to have fun and complete your look with dried billy buttons, toys and dried moss! Here’s a great step-by-step tutorial for building, care and maintenance.

Fingers crossed for round 4. Our penguin pal is surely better luck than a duo of battling dinos, right? And now that we’re up to v.4, we wonder, has anyone else kept a terrarium alive for a good, long run? What’s your secret?

PS: On another note, The Pet Shop is excited to announce our newest partnership with One Tail at a Time for October through December! See the details right here.

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  • Kati from sohappyhome10.1.12 - 10:08 AM

    Hey, thanks for the honorable mention. Here’s to hoping that the penguin isn’t a harbinger of a similar fate. Go Team Succulents!ReplyCancel

  • Kim10.1.12 - 10:14 AM

    Kati, we can’t imagine a sweet little penguin being one to stir things up… famous last words, perhaps?ReplyCancel

  • Alexis10.1.12 - 12:01 PM

    I collect milk glass and plant succulents in them along with building terrariums. For watering a spray bottle is key, though I strongly believe that some succulents I buy aren’t meant to live past a month.
    I’d also recommend African Violets for planting, I have one that is huge and thriving in a fish bowl. Also Ferns, they seem able to handle a little over watering.
    Good luck!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.2.12 - 10:05 AM

      Alexis, thank you for the tips! We haven’t tried African Violets, but you never know if we may have a v.5…ReplyCancel

  • krissy10.1.12 - 12:08 PM

    I really appreciate these posts about the failed terrariums, I can’t seem to keep one alive either. It crushes my green-thumb soul a little every time I have to rebuild, so I just stopped, but these posts give me hope and inspiration not to give up. Thanks for the updates!ReplyCancel

  • Emma10.1.12 - 1:07 PM

    Good luck! This is a great looking terrarium. I’ve had the same abysmal luck with terrariums (have lost two so far). I don’t understand why they are so much harder to sustain than regular potted plants. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the penguin.ReplyCancel

  • Amelia @ House Pretty10.1.12 - 10:57 PM

    Love the penguin! I’ve had the hardest time keeping any plant alive, even succulents, since we moved into our house (nearly two years ago). I can’t seem to figure out where plants are happy, so I don’t dare try a terrarium. I’m happy to live vicariously through your photos :)ReplyCancel

  • Trude10.2.12 - 12:06 PM

    I’ve always wanted to do a terrarium, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I might just have to copy yours entirely, because I love everything about it! You can’t go wrong with succulents and billy balls, and penguins are my favorite. :) Thanks for the tips!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene3.15.13 - 1:22 PM

    This is my favorite terrarium, no joke! I’ve featured it on my blog ( I see the pingback already got here. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.15.13 - 1:45 PM

      Marlene, aw, thank you! And thanks for including us in your round-up!ReplyCancel

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