Making Terrariums with The GROWop's Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn

Kenny Barrett's no stranger to dirt and a few plants. The local creative and one of the founders of the Roosevelt Growhouse and the GROWop in downtown Phoenix spends most of his time tending to the boutique/urban garden's produce and managing Valley of the Sunflowers, the two-acre lot-revitalization project across the street. He also has an eye for what looks good (especially in hipstamatic). 

Barrett and the GROWop boutique manager Josh Hahn taught a small class how to make terrariums last fall. And after stumbling (almost literally) upon a vintage jar at QCucmbers, we decided it was time to test their skills. 

Barrett shows us how to make our own terrariums -- and save $1,500 -- after the jump... 


- Clear glass or plastic container with lid 
- Gravel or small pebbles 
- Potting soil and sand 
 - Sphagnum peat moss 
- A few small plants (succulents and desert plants work best) 
- Needle-nose pliers or long tweezers 
- A spoon 
- Decorative accessories (optional) 

​​1. Select an appropriate container. Desert terrariums need to be kept in a container that will get plenty of air circulation. We nabbed a vintage jar from QCumber on 7th Avenue. Barrett and a few friends used mason jars from Michaels and an embroidered jam jar.

2. Choose the right plants. Desert terrariums require compact, slow growing plants such as Haworthia, Elephant bush, Jade plant, Pigmy cactus, Stonecrop, or Hen and chicks are good choices. 

3. Wash your terrarium and anything that will be going inside. 

4. Lay down a thin layer of gravel or pebbles. This layer will help ensure proper drainage for your plants. 

5. Place a thin cover of activated charcoal and then a thin layer of sphagnum peat moss over the gravel or pebbles to prevent your soil from sifting down into the drainage layer.

6. Add the soil mixture to your container. The soil should be one part potting soil and two parts sand or one part sand to one part shredded peat moss.

7. Starting with your largest plants, set each plant inside your terrarium until you find a layout you like. (Hint: Create a funnel with a piece of paper to "drop" the plants into your jar so that the sides don't get dirty...).

8. Funnel or spoon soil into the jar around the plants and softly press the soil around each plant to make sure they stay in place and can root themselves in the terrarium. 

9. Add sand, decorations, found objects with long pliers. Use a paintbrush or tweezers to dust off any dirt or sand that might be covering your decorations or that's stuck to the side of the jar. 

10. Close the jar and find a good sunny location, preferably near either a window with a southern or western exposure, for your terrarium. It is important that the plants get enough light during the day. 

11. Water your terrarium only when the soil is dry at least 1-inch down.

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