Putting Plants In A Coffee Table – How To Make A Terrarium Table

Person Nailing Wooden Box In Garden
coffee table planter
(Image credit: Kristen Prahl)

Have you ever considered growing plants in a coffee table? Filling a glass terrarium table with colorful and hardy succulents makes an excellent conversation starter. A succulent coffee table also provides the benefits of indoor plants without the mess of fallen leaves and spilled soil. If this sounds intriguing, here's how to make a terrarium table for your indoor living space.

DIY Coffee Table Terrarium 

The first step in creating a succulent coffee table is to buy or build a terrarium table. You can purchase a terrarium table online or find detailed instructions for building your own DIY coffee table terrarium. The latter does require some carpentry and woodworking skills.

If you're crafty, you could also repurpose a garage sale find into a beautiful succulent coffee table. If you're wondering how to make a terrarium table from scratch or an old glass top table, here are a few must-haves to include in your design:

  • Waterproof box – Built from sheet acrylic and glued with adhesive, these plastic boxes hold the growing medium and prevent water leakage.
  • Removable lid – In order to care for the succulents, the waterproof box must be easily accessible. The entire tabletop could be hinged, the acrylic top could be recessed with finger holes, or it could slide in and out along routed grooves.
  • Ventilation – To prevent excess humidity, leave a gap between the sides and top of the acrylic box or drill several holes near the top of the box.

How to Make a Terrarium Table

Succulents and cacti are excellent choices when growing plants in a coffee table. They require less water, and most species have a slower growth rate. Choose a cactus potting soil mix or layer the waterproof box with gravel, potting soil, and activated charcoal to create an ideal growing medium for these easy-to-care-for plants.

Succulents are available in an array of leaf textures, colors, and shapes. Use these variations to create an intriguing geometric design or make a fairy garden display using miniatures. Here's several genera of succulents to consider:

  • Echeveria – These beautiful rosette-shaped succulents are available in a wide array of pastel colors. When putting plants in a coffee table, choose smaller varieties of Echeveria such as 'Doris Taylor' or 'Neon Breakers.' 
  • Lithops – More commonly called living stones, lithops give a pebbly appearance to the succulent coffee table. Use them when creating a fairy garden coffee table display or choose a variety of colors and textures to showcase this genus of succulents.
  • Sempervivum – Hens and chicks or houseleeks, as they are sometimes called, have a rosette- shape and readily propagate by offset shoots. Sempervivum are shallow rooted succulents and will thrive in a shorter glass terrarium table. They rarely exceed 4 inches (10 cm.) in width.
  • Haworthia – With many species having spike-shaped, white striped leaves, haworthia are eye-catching among the plants in a coffee table terrarium. Many varieties only attain 3 to 5 inches (8-13 cm.) at maturity.
  • Echinocactus and Ferocactus – These genera of barrel cacti can grow quite large in the wild but make excellent terrarium plants due to their slow growth. Widely available, echinocactus and ferocactus species generally have large spines and vary in the number and appearance of their ribs.
Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.