Anti-Terrarium: Why we don’t put our plants in glass containers!
I know you have blamed yourself for killing a plant even when it was set up in terrible glass, terrible soil, or in planters that cause problems, when in actuality, it is more likely that you were set up to fail. Sure, plants are living, but they are much more likely to be lost when set up in poor conditions to start.
Back when we started Tierra Sol Studio, in 2014, there was a big trend towards glass terrariums. It is what people wanted, so we made them too. We had the top selling moss terrariums and kits on Etsy, had cacti and succulent glass terrariums, and air plants in glass globes.
We couldn't make them fast enough, but when we realized that cacti and succulents weren’t thriving or even surviving in the glass containers, we decided to pivot everything. It was pretty scary to shift away from everything that was selling, but we care much more about integrity and our plant babies thriving than we do about sales.
We realized that we needed to use our experience and replicate the natural environments of each plant in order to set them up to live but also thrive. We learned:
- “If it doesn't grow together, it doesn't go together” our unofficial motto.
- Desert plants like most cacti and succulents need a drier environment like what they experience in nature.
- Air plants don't grow in enclosed spaces, they grow -usually facing downward- in tropical areas that are humid but they also get lots of fresh air.
We quickly shifted all of our cacti and succulents into ceramic planters that we designed, made, and tweaked for the needs of each plant. Luckily I have been a potter nearly my whole life so that helped make the transition easier. We made clay air plant holders that would allow for them to get lots of fresh air and created instructions to gently shake the water out and dry them upside down post watering like they would dry out in nature.
And then we tested them, extensively, in many different indoor environments -- low, medium, and bright light, only office lights, different humidities and air flows. We tweaked all of our planters and soils to meet the needs of each plant until they all survived in all of the different environments.
We wanted to give people who feel like they kill plants, just like we used to, the opportunity to have the plants they want set up to thrive. And have all plant lovers not worry about if their plants are in the proper planter, planter size, soil, and light.
Our planters are made using a unique process we developed. Our houseplant planters and soil are very different from our cactus and succulent planters and soil, but both allow for oxygen to reach the soil and roots of the plant and are able to absorb and release excess water. And our instructions include specific amounts of water and frequency and different lights that we tested with these plants we grew in the planters we made and soil we mixed!
After discontinuing our glass products, I had always planned on making our version of a cactus and succulent terrarium that would live and thrive. I feel like there is a fun and even deeper DIY component to arranging cacti and succulents together with their different colors and textures and couldn’t wait to make a new version!
You still get the classic, fun DIY aspect of a terrarium but set up for healthy plants. The biggest problem with Terrariums is that they trap water above and below cacti and succulents - the exact opposite of the environment they thrive in. The Anti-Terrarium has an absorbent planter that allows for oxygen to reach the roots and extra water to be absorbed and evaporate. Our planter also allows for airflow around the plants avoiding the biggest problem of terrariums -- humidity. Each anti-terrarium comes with 5 super-hardy plants, a hand thrown ceramic planter, soil we mixed for the needs of cacti and succulents, our special cactus sand and instructions for watering only once a month or less!