How to Create a Succulent Terrarium?

by Jennifer

Before diving into the intricacies of terrarium design, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamentals of succulents. Succulents are a diverse group of plants known for their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots. This adaptation allows them to thrive in arid conditions, making them ideal candidates for the unique microenvironment of a terrarium.


When selecting succulents for your terrarium, consider factors such as size, color, and growth habits. Opt for a variety of shapes and textures to create visual interest. Common succulents for terrariums include Echeveria, Sedum, Aloe, and Haworthia.

Choosing the Right Container: A Canvas for Your Botanical Artistry

The container you choose plays a pivotal role in the overall aesthetics and functionality of your succulent terrarium. Opt for a clear glass or plastic container to showcase the beauty of the plants and allow sunlight to penetrate. Additionally, ensure that the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil, a common issue that can lead to root rot.

Consider the size and shape of the container, keeping in mind the growth habits of the selected succulents. A shallow container works well for compact rosette-forming succulents, while taller plants may benefit from a deeper vessel.

The Essential Elements: Substrate, Drainage, and Layers

Creating a suitable substrate is crucial for the well-being of your succulents. Use a well-draining mix specifically formulated for succulents and cacti, or create your own by combining potting soil with perlite or sand. This promotes proper aeration and prevents water from pooling around the roots.

Layering is a key technique in terrarium construction. Begin with a base layer of gravel or small stones to facilitate drainage. Add a layer of activated charcoal to absorb impurities and prevent odors. Finally, add the succulent substrate, ensuring it’s deep enough for the roots to establish but not too compact.

Artful Arrangement: Designing Your Terrariumscape

The arrangement of succulents within the terrarium is where your creativity can truly shine. Consider the growth habits, colors, and textures of each succulent to create a harmonious composition. Taller plants can serve as focal points, while cascading varieties add a sense of movement.

Experiment with different heights and groupings, placing smaller succulents around larger ones to create depth. Keep in mind that succulents will continue to grow, so leave ample space between plants to accommodate their future size.

The Importance of Light and Temperature: Mimicking Nature Indoors

Succulents are native to arid regions with plenty of sunlight, so replicating these conditions is crucial for their well-being in a terrarium. Choose a location with bright, indirect sunlight for your terrarium, avoiding prolonged exposure to harsh, direct sunlight that could scorch the plants.

Maintain a consistent temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius) for optimal succulent growth. Avoid placing the terrarium near drafty windows or heat sources, as temperature fluctuations can stress the plants.

Watering Wisdom: Striking the Right Balance

Watering is a critical aspect of succulent care, and finding the right balance is key to preventing both underwatering and overwatering. Allow the top inch of the substrate to dry out before watering, and when you do, water thoroughly until it drains from the bottom of the container.

Avoid letting water accumulate in the saucer or base of the terrarium, as this can lead to root rot. During the growing season (spring and summer), water more frequently, and reduce the frequency in the dormant season (fall and winter) when succulents require less moisture.

Fertilizing for Flourishing Foliage: A Nutrient Boost

Succulents have modest nutrient requirements, but periodic fertilization can promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Choose a balanced, diluted succulent fertilizer and apply it sparingly during the growing season. Over-fertilizing can lead to salt buildup in the substrate, potentially harming the plants.

Aim to fertilize once every 4-6 weeks, following the package instructions for dilution ratios. Remember that under-fertilizing is preferable to overdoing it, as succulents are well-adapted to thrive in nutrient-poor environments.

Troubleshooting: Common Issues and Solutions

Even with careful attention, succulents may encounter challenges in a terrarium setting. Yellowing leaves may signal overwatering or inadequate sunlight, while stretched, elongated growth indicates insufficient light. Combat these issues by adjusting watering frequency and relocating the terrarium to a sunnier spot.

Pest infestations, such as mealybugs or aphids, can be addressed with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Regularly inspect your succulents for signs of pests, and address any issues promptly to prevent the spread of infestations.

Succulent Propagation: Multiplying Your Botanical Collection

One of the joys of succulent terrariums is the opportunity to propagate and expand your collection. Many succulents can be propagated through leaf or stem cuttings. Gently remove a healthy leaf or stem segment and allow it to callus for a day or two before placing it on top of the substrate in the terrarium. Mist the cutting sparingly until roots develop.

As the propagated succulents grow, you can rearrange them within the terrarium or transplant them into new containers to share the beauty of your botanical creations with friends and family.

Long-Term Care: Sustaining Your Succulent Haven

Maintaining the health and beauty of your succulent terrarium is an ongoing process. Regularly inspect the plants for signs of disease or overcrowding, and make adjustments as needed. Trim any dead or unsightly foliage to encourage new growth and maintain the terrarium’s aesthetic appeal.

Periodically refresh the substrate by removing the top layer and replacing it with fresh succulent mix. This helps prevent compaction and allows for better aeration of the roots. Consider repotting succulents that outgrow their space, transferring them to larger containers with fresh substrate.


In the art of succulent terrarium creation, you embark on a journey that combines the precision of horticulture with the creativity of design. Through thoughtful selection, arrangement, and ongoing care, you can transform a simple glass container into a captivating miniature Eden. As you watch your succulents thrive within the carefully curated environment, you’ll not only experience the satisfaction of nurturing living art but also enjoy the tranquil beauty of nature within the confines of your home. With this comprehensive guide as your companion, dive into the world of succulent terrariums and unleash your botanical creativity.


You may also like

Copyright © 2023