How to Make a Sand Terrarium

February 2, 2015 | By | Comments (13)
Sand Terrarium by Potted

Sand Terrarium by Potted

Remember when everyone thought terrariums were just a fad making a comeback? With so many amazing containers and varied ways to create them, terrariums are standing the test of time. Today I’ll show you another fun way we’ve come up with for creating sand terrariums—these adorable table-top gems.



Normally, we don’t recommend succulents or cacti for terrariums. They don’t like being wet or cooped up inside a glass house. But everyone loves them, they look great as specimens (as opposed to leafy ferns and other plants that thrive in terrarium conditions), and they’re really easy to plant.

So, if you’re going to use them, only water the actual plant in small amounts (a turkey baster is a great tool for this), never cover the terrarium or put them in a cloche, and accept this simple philosophy: You might kill the plant, but remember how much fun you had making your terrarium. Plus, it’s way cheaper than cut flowers. Spend the $6 on some new plants and have fun all over again.

Things you'll want for making your terrarium.

Things you’ll want for making your terrarium.

After you’ve picked the succulents you want to use, you’ll need to gather a few other items to begin. Moss and little bits of driftwood for decorating. Chopsticks for placing and moving things. A paint brush for cleaning things off.

Buy sand from a craft store.

Buy sand from a craft store.

Craft sand comes in many colors and you can have a lot of fun with this. Get at least three choices that complement each other and make you happy.

Start layering your sand.

Start layering your sand.

Find a glass container that you like. (We prefer one that has a top large enough to work with and sides that are straight so you can really see the sand design.) Lay down your base layer of sand evenly across the bottom.

Building the layers.

Building the layers.

Begin pouring the different colors of sand in piles all around the sides like this.  Be careful not to fill up the center.

A good level of sand.

A good level of sand.

Small pebbles.

Small pebbles.

When you’ve got the sand to a height you’re happy with, lay down a layer of pebbles to help with drainage and to keep the sand stable for when you add your plants.

Add cactus mix.

Add cactus mix.

Then you want to add your soil. Always use cactus mix as it’s much looser than normal potting soil and works better for succulents. You don’t need much; just add an inch or so and then make a little hole in the center. Do this by pushing the soil down (and maybe taking a tad out). This is why you don’t want too much sand in the middle.

Select your plants.

Select your plants.

Pull your succulent out of its container (2″ varieties work best) and shake off as much soil as possible without damaging the roots. Place it into the hole in your soil. Do this with as many plants as you can fit (or just use one if you’d prefer). Don’t worry about the plants being crowded… most succulents actually like that.

Adding more plants.

Adding more plants.

Brushing rocks under the plants.

Brushing rocks under the plants.

Add another layer of pebbles to finish the top. Here’s where a paint brush comes in handy. It helps even everything out.

Other things you may want to add.

Crystals and other things you may want to add.

Using chopsticks to decorate.

Using chopsticks to decorate.

Begin decorating the top. Sometimes it’s a good idea to decide if you want a backside or not as that can determine how you place objects. The chopsticks really come in handy when you want to move things around.

Looking down into the terrarium.

Looking down into the terrarium.

Finished Sand Terrarium.

Finished sand terrarium.

Now you have one very cute terrarium that you made yourself. If the idea of creating your first one alone seems a bit scary, come join us for a Sand Terrarium Class we will be hosting on February 28 if you happen to be in Los Angeles. Sign up here if you’re interested. And if you aren’t in the area, hashtag your creations with #thatsopotted! We’d love to see them.


  1. 13 DIY Sand Art Terrariums To Liven Up Your Home

    […] 12. Blue Black Green Pebble Succulent Terrarium  […]

    August 21, 2017 at 2:52 am
  2. Gladys

    No sé inglés, pero me parece bello y creo que mirando he aprendido mucho, ya que las figuras lo hacen bastante didáctico. Mil gracias por tomarse la molestia de esnseñarnoslo

    Cariños y Bendiciones miles

    June 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm
  3. kyle

    I found this very useful. I found some nice glass vases and just got into succulents. Only had to buy some sand and rocks and was good to go. Easy simple tips on here. Thank you.

    May 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm
  4. Jane Spinks

    Stephanu you absolutely miss the point! The joy of creation is WHY you would do this, and you can get the exact plants, colours, effects you want and perhaps use stuff you’ve collected over the years to decorate. Not everything is about money. Creation is great for the soul and the heart. Your shameless advertising on a page where someone is offering a FREE tutorial really STINKS. You should learn some manners and how to treat others and be less selfish.

    February 18, 2017 at 5:01 am
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  8. Jorge


    I have a sand terrarium which is a large ball like which is open on the top. Some of my plants in it recently dried up while I was on vacation and I am wondering how could I remove the dead plants to switch them out for new ones without mixing up the sand? Is there a way to do this?
    I have about 5-6 layers of white sand and black sand, so you can imagine it would ruin the esthetic if they get all mixed up. any tips?

    August 26, 2016 at 1:51 pm
  9. Stephanu

    These terrariums are nice and ok. But it’s almost like if I ask you to make me a pizza. By the time you buy the dough, cheese, sauce, toppings etc your at a $20-$30 pizza you still have to make it. You can just order it already made from a good pizza place. These terrariums are same by the time you buy glass, nice sand, rocks, succulents, cactus etc your in a pretty penny, then you have to make it. There’s a company called Keep It Glassy they make all terrariums super nice very professional looking and super cheap. Honestly they look much better than this as it doesn’t look homemade. I bought one in Town Center mall in Boca Raton. Thought I’d share, please like there page I love this company



    August 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm
  10. Darlene

    Succulents with different shapes, colors and shapes fascinates me plus layering with colored sand. Started layering sands with succulents, made me feel good with my new hobby🌵

    May 30, 2016 at 12:56 pm
  11. Neha

    Superb but im from india can u plz tell me where i can find colured soil as well as moss

    March 28, 2016 at 12:08 pm
  12. Sand Terrarium | KaKti Terrarium
    March 15, 2015 at 8:06 am
  13. Making Macrame & Terrariums with Lux/Eros & Bollare Friends | Potted

    […] to show everyone above, but since these hangers were meant to hang higher, I modified our normal Sand Terrarium Technique to make it more of a Sand Planter.  The difference is the planter has more plants and dirt and […]

    February 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

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