Lake Titicaca Inspired Terrarium

Enjoy the foliage of the Lake Titicaca area of Peru from the comfort of your own home with this terrarium full of cacti and succulents.

| January 2019


Peru Lake Titicaca Cactus

The shores around Lake Titicaca are green and wet, but beyond them are arid places with magnificent varieties of cactus and succulents. If there is sufficient light, the plants will flower when good weather arrives.


  • Difficulty – 2 out of 3
  • Water – 3 out of 3
  • Light – 3 out of 3
  • Container – medium


These plants cannot be pruned. After several years they may have to be moved to a larger container.


  • 2 Pilosocereus azureus
  • 1 Rebutia
  • 2-1⁄2 cups/600 ml red volcanic stone
  • 1-2⁄3 cups/400 ml planting mix (half potting soil for indoor plants, half sand)
  • 2 handfuls of fine gravel, gray
  • 3 handfuls of fine gravel, black
  • 5 handfuls of medium gravel, white
  • 2 granite pebbles
  • 2 pieces of driftwood
  • 1⁄3 cup/75 ml filtered water

Lake Titicaca Step-By-Step

  1. Carefully clean the interior and exterior of the jar. Soak the base of the plants in filtered water for 5 minutes so that the root ball is well moistened. Measure (keep separate) 2-1⁄2 cups/600 ml red volcanic stone, and combine about 7⁄8 cup/200 ml potting soil and 7⁄8 cup/200 ml sand.
  2. soak-cactus-roots

  3. Gently pour an even layer of the red volcanic stone into the bottom of the jar. Be careful not to damage the glass.
  4. Pour the fine gray gravel and a handful of the white gravel in layers around the inside edge of the jar. Pour the planting mixture evenly over the volcanic stones and gravels, making a bed about 1-1⁄4 in/3 cm deep.
  5. Make 3 small wells in the soil where you want to put the plants, deep enough for the roots.
  6. unpotting-cactus

  7. To unpot the cacti, push on the root ball with a pencil to avoid the spines.
  8. Take hold of each cactus with the gloves or by rolling the cactus in paper (to avoid the spines), then gently loosen the roots. Place the plants in the wells and fill in the soil, pressing the plants in gently, then tamp down the soil around it.
  9. protect-hand-from-cactus

  10. Water the soil evenly at the foot of the plants with filtered water, using a plant mister (or soak a sponge and gently squeeze it over the soil).
  11. Planting-cacti

  12. Lay the rest of the white and black gravel on the soil. Add the pebbles and the driftwood.
  13. protect-hand-from-cactus

  14. Place the terrarium in a bright place out of direct sunlight.

Cover courtesy of Chronicle Books

More from Terrarium

Reprinted with permission Terrarium by Anna Bauer and Noam Levy and published by Chronicle Books, 2018.

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