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Holley Simmons is the lifestyle and dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local fashion, beauty and restaurants, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. A New Jersey native, she likes porkroll egg and cheese and says the word “drawer” funny. Get in touch at Holleysimmons.com.


Previously on Hands-On with Holley, we got buck with a sewing machine to make a killer denim-leather jacket and turned a piece of art into a pillow… so we decided to put away the sewing machine and change things up a bit this time with a little green-thumb action!  Afraid to DIY by yourself? Have no fear, those cool kids over at LivingSocial are hosting terrarium making classes with Holley.  Get in quick before they are sold out!



  • Glass container (no lid)
  • 4 cups All-purpose potting soil
  • 1 cup large rocks
  • 2 cups small rocks
  • ¼ cup Activated charcoal
  • 3 succulents
  • Decorative elements (plastic dinosaur figurines, cocktail umbrellas, etc – the possibilities are endless!)


Step by step instructions

  • Begin with a dry, clean glass container with no lid and a wide opening, similar to a fish bowl.


  • Add all the big rocks and half of the small rocks to the bottom of your container. Set the remaining small rocks aside for later.


  • Sprinkle a thin layer of activated charcoal over the rocks.

DIY_Terrarium-8647 DIY_Terrarium-8647

  • Add a small amount of water to your potting soil to wet it.


  • Dump your potting soil into the container.


  • Using your fingers, dig a small hole to root your succulents.


  • Cover the base of your succulents with soil, packing it gently to ensure it’s secure.


  • Sprinkle the remaining little rocks on top and adorn with a figurine (optional)



Caring for your terrarium

  • Store your terrarium in indirect sunlight.

  • It’s better to underwater your plant than to overwater it. It shouldn’t need more than 1/3 cup of water once a week.

  • Remove dead leaves as you see them.


Local gardening stores

  • Ginkgo Gardens, 911 11th St. SE; 202-543-5172
  • Johnson’s Florist and Garden Center, various locations
  • Old City Green, 902 N St. NW; 202-412-2489