Succulent Terrarium Care: How To Make A Succulent Terrarium And Care For It

succulent terrarium
succulent terrarium
(Image credit: hamikus)

A terrarium is a rather old-fashioned but charming way to make a mini garden in a glass container. The effect produced is rather like a tiny forest residing in your home. It is also a fun project that is great for children and adults.

Growing succulent plants in terrariums provides the plants with an easy-care situation in which they will thrive. Since succulents do not like wet environments, a few tips and adjustments to the traditional terrarium are required.

Read on to find out how to make a succulent terrarium that will keep the little plants happy and healthy.

Succulent Terrarium Instructions

Terrariums and dish gardens have been a part of indoor growing for centuries. Succulent plants seem to like arid conditions and a desert or beach themed terrarium will provide the right conditions while adding some unexpected appeal in the home.

Creating succulent terrariums doesn't take a lot of time or money. You can literally make one in an old food jar or search a thrift market for an unusual dish or clear container. Then it's time to plant and add any touches to the diorama. You can make the terrarium as ornate or simple as you wish.

The original terrariums were made in elegant Wardian cases, so named for the originator of the idea, Dr. N.B. Ward. Succulents will do well in almost any container. The only trick is to make an open rather than closed system to prevent excess moisture from building up and killing the plant.

Creating Succulent Terrariums

The planting medium for succulents is crucial. Succulents are perfect for terrariums because they grow relatively slowly but the condensation that may build up can kill the little plants if the right medium isn't used.

Line the bottom of the container with fine gravel or rocks. On top of this layer an inch (2.5 cm.) or so of charcoal. This absorbs odors and toxins that may be in the water.

Next, place sphagnum moss and top it with cactus soil that has been lightly pre-moistened. Plant the little plants in the cactus mix and firm soil around them. A dowel or stick is helpful in digging the holes and filling around plants. Space plants at least an inch apart (2.5 cm) so there is adequate airflow. Plants may need a Popsicle stick or small stake for the first few weeks to keep them upright.

Now the really fun part happens – designing the terrarium. If you want a beach theme, add some seashells or for a desert look, install some rocks to complement the succulents.

There is an almost endless supply of items that will enhance the natural look of the terrarium. Some growers even add ceramic figures to add to the sense of whimsy. Just make sure that anything you are putting into the terrarium has been well washed to avoid bringing in disease.

Succulent Terrarium Care

Place the terrarium in a brightly lit location but avoid direct sun which can scorch the plants inside. An area near a fan or blower is ideal, as this will increase circulation and help prevent damping off.

Succulents can't stand to be overwatered and if they are in standing water they will surely die. Your succulent garden won't need to be watered very often. Wait until the soil is nearly completely dry before you water. Use tap water that has been off-gassed or purchase purified water.

Succulent terrarium care is pretty much the same as care of succulents in a pot. These plants thrive on neglect and don't need supplemental fertilizer but once per year. Over time the succulents should fill in a bit and the whole terrarium will attain a naturally appealing appearance.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.