DIY: Make a Cactus Terrarium – The Perfect Size for Your Desk

Make a Cactus Terrarium

You must have observed that small terrariums are a mainstay on Instagram & Pinterest. Especially, small cacti terrariums are much more famous! But the cacti are a bit difficult to grow in tropical & sub-tropical conditions.

Cactus is a plant that has well-adapted to arid conditions; hence it becomes a bit tricky to grow them in our homes. Also, cacti cannot be grown in any small, old, or very large terrarium. Due to unfavourable conditions, the choice of terrarium becomes quite vital for their growth & lifespan.

To grow cacti in a terrarium is fun & enjoyable, but you need to understand this arid plant well enough! To grow more cacti greenery in your indoors, you need proper knowledge of the cacti, supplies for the plant & the terrarium, and proper planning. In this article, we will find out more about these small cacti terrariums!

What are the Things You Need?

  • Different types of Cacti
  • Pebbles & Small Stones
  • Clean & Clear Open Glass Vessel (For example, Dish) or Small Terrarium Bowl
  • Cacti suitable soil
  • Dry sand
  • White soil
  • Spoon

Best Cacti Terrarium Plants

The best cacti that are suitable for a small terrarium are:

  1. Cinnamon Cacti
  2. Domino Cacti
  3. Peanut Cacti
  4. Mammillaria species

How to Prepare a Cactus Terrarium?

How to Prepare a Cactus Terrarium

  1. Take a clean & clear open glass vessel like a dish. Preferably, use a small terrarium bowl. Alternatively, you can also use a fishbowl too.
  2. Fill the terrarium bowl with pebbles to the bottom of it. This will form the first bottom layer of pebbles. The layer can be about 1 inch to 2 inches & plays a vital role in collecting water drainage.
  3. Add the second layer of cacti suitable soil. This layer is vital for the growth of cacti. This layer should be about 2 inches to 3 inches deep.
  4. Take a spoon, make a hole in the topmost layer (of soil). The hole should accommodate the roots of the cacti.
  5. Now, place a few cacti along with their roots in the container. Settle down the soil over the roots of these cacti with the utmost care (& love). Either use safety gloves or a paper towel to place the cacti in the soil.
  6. The arrangement of all the cacti is in your hands. Plant different types & sizes of cacti. Try arranging these cacti according to your taste & make them aesthetically more pleasing.
  7. Now add a small layer of white soil, and then another small layer of visually pleasing pebbles & small stones.

Tips & Challenges with Cacti Terrariums

Tips & Challenges with Cacti Terrariums

Terrariums, especially the closed ones are best known for growing tropical plants. This means that choosing cacti is a wrong move. But, do not worry. Following a few tips will be enough to counter the challenges.

  • Drainage of water is a potential issue for cacti terrarium. The bottom-most layer of soil acts as a drainage layer. It also prevents any absorption of water by the roots of the cacti.
  • Humidity is another major challenge, especially in closed terrariums. Closed terrariums are notoriously good at trapping the humidity of the air. Avoid using closed terrariums.
  • Cacti are plants found in arid locations. Thus, water retention of soil can be a major problem. Using cacti-friendly soil can be a better solution for it. In the soil, where water retention is high, cacti can rot & eventually die.
  • Cacti love dry air. So, subjecting them to moist & humid weather can pose another potential problem.

Remember that the cacti love arid conditions, here are some tips:

  • Always use an open terrarium for cacti. They provide a better airflow & do not trap humidity.
  • Place the cacti terrarium in direct sunlight. They absolutely love it.
  • Do not water them frequently. Water them only twice a month.
  • You can use cacti mixes that contain clay pebbles, substrate bases & volcanic rocks. They allow more drainage & less water retention.
  • You can create a false bottom. This will ensure that the roots have no chance to absorb the retained water.
  • Try to replicate & mimic the desert conditions.

cacti love arid conditions

How to Water a Cactus Terrarium

There is a misconception that cacti don’t like water. They absolutely love water! But, as they are prone to arid conditions & have adapted to it, moist soil & humid climate can cause their rotting.

You need to provide enough water to the cacti in the terrarium. If you feel the cacti-friendly soil or the cacti mix is extremely dry, then water them. If necessary, you can water the cacti regularly too.

Madison Hall
With a background in Engineering from Stanford University, Madison Hall brings a unique perspective to the DIY world. With 15 years of experience in both engineering and DIY projects, she started contributing to our website in 2022. Her approach combines technical knowledge with experience, making her articles informative and accessible. Before joining us, Madison worked in a leading engineering firm focusing on sustainable building practices. She enjoys woodworking and exploring the latest tech gadgets in her leisure time.

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