DIY: Apothecary Jar Terrariums

I have a slight apothecary jar addiction. I am literally incapable of entering a housewares store without buying at least one apothecary jar (also on that list: throw pillows, white sheets and soy candles). I have them in my master bathroom holding q-tips and cotton balls. In the guest bath they hold shea-butter soaps and more cotton balls. I can’t think of a single reason a guest in my home would need easy access to a large supply of cotton balls, and yet there they are:

(We aren’t even going to discuss the color scheme in there. It was like that when we moved in and I usually keep the door closed and pretend it doesn’t exist.)

This would be a good time to mention that I kill plants. Thousands of them. Each and every houseplant I have ever bought has died by my hands. There was a period where I was going through 7 or 8 orchids every six months until my husband suggested that perhaps I move on to cheaper victims.

Then something surprising happened. I was in my sons room and I noticed that the very large, very 1970’s style terrarium my mother had given him was full of leafy, living plants.

I vaguely remember putting a few ferns in there when he got it last year, but since then have not so much as looked at the thing. That’s when I realized that perhaps I could marry my personality flaws of apothecary-jar-hording and plant-homicide to create unique and stylish terrariums. I started with this:

Four empty jars, freed from being relegated to a life of holding cotton balls. If you look out the window behind them on the right, you will notice last summers attempt at a container garden. I left it there as a reminder that if I want heirloom tomatoes I should go to the grocery store, not to the plant section of Home Depot.

Anyway, I gathered my supplies: potting soil (I chose the looser kind used for seedlings. My only reason for this was that I thought it was prettier dirt), small plants, rocks.

I’m willing to admit that I might have gone overboard with the plants:

The rest was easy. First I added a few stones to the bottom of each jar:

Then I added a bunch of soil to each jar which ended up being a mistake because the plants all poked out the tops of the jars. So don’t do that. I had to dump all the soil back into the bag and got it all over my desk, proving once again that sewing tables do not make good potting sheds. Here I am cleaning up my mess:It worked better to just remove the plants from their planters and loosen the soil at the bottom until it was no longer planter-shaped. Then I put them on the stones in the jars and used a spoon to add a little potting mix around them. I put two plants into most of the jars, spooning soil around them until they felt secure, but still loose enough that they could settle down a little when I watered them. Here I am spooning soil, in case you wanted to know what that looks like.Then I gave them a light watering and put the lids on:After that I had to clean up a large amount of spilled soil and debris from my table, but I was happy with the results so it was worth the mess. Here they are all finished. I’m hoping that they’ll sink in a bit more, otherwise I might go back and remove some more soil. Supposedly they create their own atmosphere and don’t need much watering. If, like me, you’ve killed many a cactus because you water them even though you know you’re not supposed to, don’t fret. All you have to do if you over-water is take the lid off for a day or two and they’ll dry out. I might move them to a sunny spot where they don’t have to stare at what’s left of my container garden, wondering if they’re next.

2 Comments on DIY: Apothecary Jar Terrariums

  1. Rachel Smith
    April 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm (4 years ago)

    Is there an update on this project? I have also killed thousands of plants and have developed an apothecary infatuation (addiction) – curious to know how your plants fared.

  2. milkandhoneyluxuries
    April 6, 2013 at 9:18 am (4 years ago)

    HI Rachel,
    They are alive and thriving if you can believe that! Well, to be honest, a few of them didn’t survive our recent move (the jars broke), but they were doing great right up until then and my favorite one made the move unscathed and continues to do great. I have literally never watered them since I put them together. One of them must have had a small spore amid the leaves because every few months a mushroom would appear in the soil, then disappear again. It was actually pretty cute! Good luck with yours!!