DIY Terrarium + A Sweet Plant’s Little Story

From the age of 3 to 8, Charlie, my oldest, attended a warm and loving Montessori School. After three years in the same classroom, Charlie “graduated” third grade. His favorite teacher gave him a plant to celebrate. The plant was his to care for. It was to remind him of all his amazing growth in school and the continued growth he would surely experience as he grew up. We feel so lucky that Charlie spent his formative years there. Charlie fell in love with his plant instantly.
When we first found out we were moving to Baltimore, the news rocked our entire world. We had thought we would live in Boulder forever. All of sudden we had to pack up our lives and move across the country in matter of weeks. As the house where Charlie had spent his entire life began to disappear into boxes, and what was left began to dwindle to a few items, Charlie turned to me and asked me who would pack his plant. How would his plant make it to Baltimore?
I tried to explain that our plants would have to stay in Boulder. He burst into tears with a level of intensity that surprised me. All the tension and stress over leaving his school, his home and all life as he knew it became packed into this little plant. I tried to comfort him. Maybe we could give it to a Boulder friend to love and care for? Maybe we could give it back to his teacher to care for in his Montessori classroom? The plant didn’t want to leave Boulder either, I said.  Nothing worked.
Finally, I said to Charlie, if it’s that important to you, you’ll just have to carry it to Baltimore yourself. To be honest with you, I thought that this responsibility would induce him to leave it behind. I myself couldn’t take on another thing. I was wrong. The morning we left, Charlie picked up his plant and carried it every step of the way.  Above is the sun rise that escorted us out of Boulder.
On the airplane, filled with the sadness of leaving our home, I looked over at my Charlie. He held his plant with such tenderness, frankly, I burst into tears. The plant made it to Baltimore a little worse for wear, but after a little caring by Charlie, it perked up again.
He’s continued to care for it carefully over the last year an a half and recently began pestering me that it needed to be replanted. After weeks, I finally relented to do it, but only if he helped. This lovely little terrarium was born.  His little plant is finally growing  roots in its new home, just like we are!
DIY Terrarium
:: Glass jar or vase (wide opening is best)
:: Sand
:: Potting Soil (succulent or cactus soil is best for succulents)
:: Moss
:: Decorative items
:: Very loved for plant!
 1:: Start with a layer of sand to provide good drainage.
 2:: Scoop out a hole for soil in the sand.  You can add a little moisture to the sand to help do this.
3::Add soil to the hole you’ve created. We used regular old potting soil (sometimes I don’t do everything the way I should :)) If you’re planting succulents, using a cactus soil is better for drainage.
4:: Carefully remove your plant from its existing pot, keeping the soil around its roots intact.
5:: Create hole in soil for plant and carefully add plant. Pat soil around it and carefully press plant into place.
6:: Add decorative moss and rocks around surface.
7:: Add other bits of interest. We loved these little figurines given to Charlie by his Aunt.  She used to collect them as a little girl. She kindly let my kids pick their favorites on our last visit. This terrarium gives them a happy new home too!
I had put off making the terrarium because I thought it would be too difficult, but it really was a snap.
Don’t hesitate, go make yourself one today!
  1. Camille

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this. Love the project, love the story behind it. xoxox

    • anne

      Thanks so much Camille! xo

  2. Oh my goodness, Anne – I teared up just reading this beautiful post. Kudos to sweet Charlie! It reminded me of one of my sons and a pine tree seedling he received on Earth Day one year. It grew to be the wonkiest looking tree you can imagine, but for years he wouldn’t let us cut it down. Good thing we didn’t have to move as I have a feeling he would have felt just like Charlie!

    • anne

      Ann, Thanks so much. I love the passion they have when they are young. You can’t help but admire it.

  3. Kellie

    This is perfect and not only that is has the perfect story to go along with it! A win/win in my eyes!

    • anne

      Thanks so much Kellie! xo

  4. Sweet project with a sweet story behind it! My son (also a Montessori kid) has been asking for a plant of his own. I think we will try this!

  5. Anonymous

    That’s really cute! What plant is that? Looks like a tiny palm tree 🙂

    • anne

      Thanks so much. I think it’s called a tree aeonium. It is really sweet. It perked back up again after transfer too.

    • anne

      Thank you, Nicole!

  6. Love the story and love how the terrarium turned out! My daughter has become a little obsessed with terrariums as of late; we are still searching for the perfect container in which to make one.

    • Well, when you find the container, making one will be a great memory to have together!

  7. Aww this is such a pretty project with such a sweet story behind it. We have done alot of moving. Its finally stopped and we all couldnt be happier. I can relate. When I put drills into the walls of the place, i knew it was really permanent. Great job and thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks so much Jeanine. Whew! yes, moving is tough. We still have boxes everywhere!

  8. Susan

    That is a super sweet post. Moving is so hard, and you honestly captured two generations emotions there. And to boot, the terrarium is lovely! Thanks.

    • Susan, Thank you so much! You are wonderful to leave a comment too!

  9. Ashley

    Great back story. I love how it turned out. A happy ending for a sweet boy and his plant. 🙂

  10. Dalynn

    We just left Baltimore in July to move out west!
    Great story and what a sweet way to help your son with the transition.
    Best of luck in Baltimore!

    • Hi Dalynn, So excited for you . . . have fun out west!

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