Cigar Box Terrarium

Like flowers, succulents and cacti are beautiful. And like flowers, you can arrange and scape them so that their beauty is accentuated. Picture here from left to right are a type of blue sedum (I’m working on positively identifying it), Gymnocalycium mihanovichii ‘Hibotan’ (Moon Cactus), and Ferocactus histrix. I chose to plant these together because of their complimentary shapes and their contrasting colors and textures. Their planter is an old cigar box my partner donated to the cause. This cigar box was the test run and I learned a lot of important things in order to make my next one and yours successful. Interested in making one yourself? Here’s what you’ll need:

1) A cigar box

2) A large ziploc bag (or several depending on how big your box is)

3) Elmer’s glue/rubber cement/modge podge (modge podge is best)

4) Gravel

5) Soil

6) Plant babies

7) Rocks, moss, figurines, anything you would like to use to decorate

The first step to making this terrarium a success is to cut the sealing off of the Ziploc bags so that you have long sheets of plastic. These sheets will serve as the lining for the box. Position the plastic so that it covers the bottom and sides of the box. If you need more than one bag make sure to overlap the edges. If you need to make any cuts, mark it and cut away excess plastic. Once you’ve positioned your plastic and have cut away the excess, coat the bottoms of the plastic as well as the bottom of the box modge podge or the sealant of your choice. Elmer’s glue is an excellent substitute for modge podge. Seal the plastic onto the box and make sure that the wood is completely protected by the plastic. Wait for the sealant on the plastic to dry and adhere to the box.

Note: It’s very important that you do not skip this step as the plastic lining protects the box from moisture which will cause it to rot and mold. Unfortunately this test run terrarium rotted because I didn’t use a plastic lining.

Once the plastic is successfully adhered to the box and dry, place your gravel along the bottom of the box. Whether your box is deep or shallow make sure your gravel layer is thin, but covers the bottom. This layer will help retain moisture.

Note: I water my succulents once a week and my apartment is very dry, so this layer has been beneficial to my plants and my routine. If your plant care routine has you watering your succulents more than twice a week or if their environment is already humid, I would consider eliminating this step as the excess moisture may cause your plants to receive too much water and humidity.

The final step is the fun part: Add soil to your cigar box and arrange your succulents! There’s no real right or wrong way to do this. I would suggest buying plants that have similar light and watering requirements so that they can thrive.

Quick tip: When arranging succulents or other plants it’s important to consider height and texture. Staggering plants so that the tallest are in the back or around the side and the shortest are more towards the front will ensure that all of your plants get the sunlight and showtime they deserve.

Fun sources: Needles + Leaves and Ideas on How to Arrange Succulents.

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