Succulent Social Hour! The Party That Showed Us How to Make a Terrarium

Photos by Ryan Benoit

You already know how we feel about the whole partying-with-plants thing.

So when we got an invitation from storied flower shop Adelaide’s to make succulent terrariums (pardon our Latin, but “terraria” just looks strange on the page) after hours, we brushed off our dancing shoes and got our best overalls back from the drycleaners.

Yes, there would be wine.

This succulent soiree took place in La Jolla two Wednesdays ago. It started with modern Italian appetizers and schmoozing with familiar faces, and ended with a glass container for each guest planted with fat and sassy echeverias and snaky aloes, and colorfully layered with seashells, moss and stones. We left inspired to try this concept at our own place one day.

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Goat cheese lollipops with pistachio by Giuseppe catering.

Pretty Useful Tools

Secateurs by Pretty Useful Tools.

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Adelaide’s first opened up in the middle of Great Depression with an operating budget of $6. Today it’s a destination for brides and party planners ISO any kind of bloom under the sun — from skyscraping orchid centerpieces to slick tropicals to highly textured, perfectly-imperfect bouquets stuffed with garden roses for modern romantics. Under new leadership, the hipness factor at the petal purveyor, a staple of our old-money beach community, has been on the rise.

At the start of the evening, guests entered through a storefront filled with fresh flowers and past the shop’s new garden center offering gifts and accessories by brands like Pretty Useful Tools (you could say these floral-print spades have got cuteness…in spades!) and soy candles by Kobo that come in plantable boxes.

After grazing our way through caprese bites, Belgian endive spoons and crostini al carpaccio, we snapped on some blue latex gloves and moved on to the main smorgasbord of the night, the terrarium-making materials provided by Adelaide’s.

Empty glass terrariums await assembly. Glass cubes and fish bowls

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Supplies:

– Succulents like string of pearls, graptoverias, sempervivums, echeveria and donkey tail

– potting soil

– glass cubes and fish bowls (you’ll find them at nurseries, flower shops and craft stores)

– preserved moss, e.g. reindeer moss (the Terrarium Supplies shop on Etsy is a good place to start)

– seashells

– volcano/lava rock

– river rock

– paint brushes (to get the dirt out of the crevices of your plants)

We then moved to the gleaming steel counter inside the assembly area, where we began building our gardens in a glass.

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How to make a terrarium:

1. Layer bottom of glass container with volcano rock, which will give your plants proper drainage.

2. If you like, add stones, shells, et cetera, for a layered effect you can view through the glass container.

3. Scoop in potting soil.

4. Remove your succulents from their original containers, taking care to loosen their rootballs.

5. Plant and arrange your succulents in your terrarium.

Panda plant

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6. Add moss, shells to top layer to give the surface some zing.

7. With a paintbrush, brush out any dirt that might be caught in the crevices of your succulents (roseate ones like graptoverias and echeverias are especially susceptible). Dirt trapped on the vegetation can cause rot.

8. Clean off the inside of your terrarium, and give your plants a little water.

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Ryan’s terrarium featuring string pearls, Aloe rauhii (snowflake aloe), and Euphorbia pugniformis (Medusa’s head).

9. Place your terrarium in a spot with lots of light, but out of direct sun.

10. For watering, Adelaide’s advises, misting is the best option. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray directly into the base of the plants. Succulents require very little water, so it’s better to go a little dry versus wet.

11. Repeat Step 10 every 2-3 weeks.

During business hours, Adelaide’s offers a potting station where customers can build their own terrariums with the help of a staff member. (Also, its next workshop takes place on Sunday, September 29th from 1 PM to 3 PM.)

Paddle plant and lemon coral sedum

The shop also gave us some problem signs to look out for/how to solve them:

– The most common problems succulents experience are being either over- or under-watered.

– If the soil gets too dry, it becomes compact and the water can run off. To remedy this, use your spray bottle to get into the center, directly at the root of each succulent.

– If over-watering is a problem, reduce to every 2-3 weeks.

– If your succulents begin to lose color, then it may be getting too much sun, as this can remove/damage color.

String of pearls

The free-flowing string of pearls succulent adds drama to the more staid graptoveria and echeveria.

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Guests each got a box to safely transport their terrariums.

Chantal and Ryan's final assembly.

Chantal and Ryan’s terrariums get the final brush-up.

When we brought home our terrariums, we placed them next a Day of the Dead skull and piece of spraypainted driftwood. Best party favor of the year to date.

Our terrariums' new home.

Our terrariums’ new home.