DIY Projects · Home Improvement


When my husband and I started dating and had our first argument, he brought me one of those famous “I’m sorry” gifts. He knows I don’t really like roses, so he bought me a plant (Canna Lily, I think?), and it was dead in the first couple of weeks. I really don’t have anything resembling a green thumb.

Now that I married into his agriculturally talented family and live on their farm complete with a greenhouse, I thought I’d give myself another try at keeping things alive. My brother-in-law Walker (I hope he doesn’t mind me giving his blog a free shout-out…) got married in November, and the favor at their wedding was a little succulent in a cleaned-out baby food jar with a little stamped card (that Walker designed) tied on with twine. It was such a cute favor! Even after warning the bride of my incompetence with plants, she let me help put them together.

Wedding Favor
Wedding Favor

My and my husband’s little succulents survived the worst of winter on my kitchen windowsill. They were so cute there, but I was afraid the baby food jar wouldn’t give them room to grow this spring (with all my expertise in this area, I was justifiably concerned). As always, my copy of Real Simple magazine arrived with a timely fix for this problem–a terrarium!

Perhaps, like me, you aren’t familiar with this word.  (I personally kept calling it a “terranium.”) A terrarium is basically a miniature, contained, indoor garden of small green plants. I watched Real Simple’s tutorial, but the whole thing was relatively easy, even for a beginner like myself.

My fishbowl from my college dorm has been in storage for years waiting for some creative idea to repurpose it. The fishbowl is in the shape of a teacup, which turned out to be really cute, but you could use any clear glass container. I had some tiny gravel left over from a project. I put a 1-inch layer of the gravel into the bottom of the bowl so that the extra water accumulates there instead of in the soil where it can rot the roots. (I learned this from my mother-in-law Susan who helped me set all this up in the greenhouse.) Then I added a 3-inch layer of a soil/sand mixture, and put a few of our plants in there (5 various types of succulents that were relatively small, including the two jades from the wedding). Next, I topped the soil with a thin layer of extra sand. One last layer of the gravel made it look more complete than dirty. I also set a few clear glass “rocks” from the old fishbowl around the base of the plants, which Susan said gave the effect of big water droplets. The best part is that it only needs to be by a sunny window and be watered every two weeks or when the soil looks dry. I set mine on a cake stand by our dining room window, but I may move it to my desk in the study once I know it has rooted well. Here’s the final result:


I always love a repurposing project, and I’m so glad that I could use this fishbowl in a much lower-maintenance way. Have you ever made a terrarium? Is this something you would try? I’d love to hear your stories, ideas, and comments.


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