SavvySugarSource: Doable DIY Gifts: $5 Plant Arrangements
The best way to save money on Christmas shopping is to give your loved ones homemade gifts. The presents you make don't have to be the traditional cookies or knitted scarves; there are plenty of ways to be creative and thoughtful on a budget. One of my favorite gifts this season is the terrarium, which is basically a plant arrangement set in a glass or plastic container. It's a simple yet meaningful gift - the recipient can use it as her office greenery and watch the arrangement grow. Not only is it beautiful, but each one will only cost you about $5 to make! Read on for instructions.
Prepare the Materials:It's best to make terrariums with friends, because the materials you buy - the soil, gravel, and more - will most likely be available only in bulk. To make full use of all your materials and not let it go to waste, either plan to make dozens of terrarium gifts for friends or hold a terrarium party. That way, you won't have any leftover materials.
Here's what you need:
- Bag of tiny charcoal bits
- Bag of clean soil
- Bag of little pieces of gravel
- A variety of succulents, ground cover, moss, figurines, and other decorative plants and items.
- Small glass bowls or containers you can find in party supply, furniture, craft, or thrift stores.
- Scooper for the soil, gravel, and charcoal.
- Chopsticks or pencils
- Spray bottle with water.
Most of the materials can be bought at garden shops, succulent stores, party stores, and Lowe's. My friend even told me that they plucked a few plants from someone's yard (with permission of course!). We found a couple of glass bulbs at a party store for $2.25 and pricier hanging tea light holders at CB2 for about $4 each.Remember, you're playing around with soil so you and your home might get a bit messy. Be sure to cover your tables with newspapers or some sort of protective cloth and wear old clothes.
Add the Foundation: The first thing you have to do is to add the layers that make up the foundation of the terrarium. Here are the steps:
- Add a layer of gravel. This will help with the irrigation.
- Sprinkle some charcoal bits on top of it. It doesn't have to be a full layer. The charcoal will absorb the earthy smell.
- Add a layer of soil on top of it and make sure it's deep enough to support the plants.
- Spray the bowl with water and make sure you clean the sides of the bowl with water. You want to make the soil is moist so it can hold the plants. If it's too crumbly, the roots might not hold as well.
- Pat the soil down with your hand to make it more solid.
- This is optional, but you can pat the soil down so that it levels diagonally. This is for style purposes, and I actually prefer it because it showcases the plant better.
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Planting the Succulents: Now that you've laid the foundation, it's time to start planting! Here are the instructions:
- Use a chopstick or a pencil to dig a hole that's just big enough for you to insert greenery.
- Use your judgement when planting. For some succulents, you can pull the leaves off, trim the stem, and plant the remaining part of the stem. You can usually do that with "bendy" plants. For greenery that has a lot of deep roots, it's best to just trim the roots and leave some of it to grow back into the soil.
- When you've inserted a couple of plants, use bits of sheet moss as fillers in the terrarium. The moss is preserved so it won't regrow, but it will maintain its color.
- Add in little figurines to decorate. My friend bought some tiny toy animals, birds, eggs, and butterflies. Feel free to be creative and add little origami animals, trinkets from necklaces, or even items from Etsy.
- Care and Maintenance: When you've completed your terrarium be sure to carefully pack them in boxes when you're giving them to friends. Put lots of newspaper or bubble wrap so the terrarium is secure and not moving around in the box. Advise the recipient to spray it with water once every three weeks and not to leave it out in direct sunlight for too long because that will quickly dry up the plants. The plants may outgrow the bowl so some minor trimming and upkeep might be needed once in a while!
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