Provide your succulents with the perfect escape from outdoor conditions by creating your own open succulent terrarium. Terrariums are both easy to care for and provide visual interest for your home with its unique container and varied shapes of greenery. Create and personalize your own little world within a glass container.
Terrariums have existed for a considerable amount of time. Even as early as 500 BC, plants were kept in glass containers to be observed at exhibits. The official use of a terrarium wasn’t discovered until 1827 when Nathaniel Ward, a physician in London, mistakenly observed the use for the miniature greenhouse when studying plants he had contained in glass bottles. From then on, this terrarium trend has continued for both plant observation and aesthetics.
Like us, Ward had a passion for plants. Today, the trend continues to thrive. Terrariums are used as a piece of décor for home design in both small and large spaces, bringing a piece of the fresh outdoor energy into the home. They also provide the ability to house our precious specimens and protect them from harsh conditions.
Terrariums are the perfect escape for plants that are much more delicate and are easy to care for. For succulents, an open terrarium is most desired.
What you’ll need to get started:
- Clear glass container- kitchen canister, fishbowl, jar, terrarium – Medium size container preferred
- Small, slow growing succulents that tolerate light and have similar watering needs
- We recommend: Jade, Echeveria, or Aloes
- Activated Charcoal
- Cacti and succulent potting soil (fresh bag)
- Décor- Figurines, crystals, shells, pine cones, stones
- Top dressing (optional)
- Clean your container both inside and out to remove any blemishes or dust. Equal parts warm water and vinegar will do. It’s much more difficult to clean the glass once the terrarium is finished and using harsh chemicals may hurt the plants.
- Fill the bottom of the terrarium with pea gravel, which will provide sufficient drainage when plants are watered. While sizes of containers may vary, we recommend using 1-inch to 1 ½-inch layer of gravel for a medium sized container.
- For the next layer, add a ½ to 1-inch of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal helps remove toxins and odor, while also providing an additional layer for drainage when the plants are watered.
- Add 3 to 5-inches of fresh potting soil or enough soil so that the plants have enough room to grow.
- Gently squeeze the pot so that both the plant and soil come out of its pot. Then, squeeze the soil-root ball, loosening the soil so the majority of the roots show.
- If you’re using cacti for your terrarium, handle your plant using gloves, an old towel or a thick newspaper to prevent the cacti pricking your skin. Repeat the same process as step 5.
- Starting from the back, begin planting your succulents. Use a spoon to dig an area to plant your succulent. Add more soil around the plant to sturdy it, then level the soil. We recommend putting larger succulents in the back.
- Repeat this process with the other succulents you’ve selected.
- As an option, you may add a light layer of top dressing. Be aware that top dressing can cause the planter to retain moisture (If you live in an area with humid weather, the water may have a harder time evaporating increasing the likelihood of lessened resistance to pathogens or root rot).
- Once plants are placed and soil is leveled, add accessories around your plants. Smaller figurines or crystals add a personal, decorative touch that’ll personalize your terrarium.
- To finish, clean the glass to remove any excess soil on the sides either using a towel or paintbrush.
- Remove wilting or dead leaves as needed
- Resist overwatering your terrarium—less is more
- If a succulent dies, remove or replace it
- Don’t overcrowd the container, give your succulents space
- Add or replace accessories that fit your style
When finding the perfect spot for your terrarium, consider an area that receives sunlight daily, preferably morning sun. Afternoon sun can be too harsh for plants and either burn their leaves or kill them. Water the succulents every two weeks or when soil is dry to touch.
With consistent airflow, morning sunlight, and minimal, bi-weekly watering, these plants continue to provide beauty, greenery, and simplicity. Enjoy your terrarium or give as a unique, personalized gift for a friend. Within their little glass walls, terrariums bring a sense of whimsical brilliance to any space, while creating a way to observe a little world of your creation, as it’s been done for many years.