How To Build A Succulent Terrarium

Because of their modest size, lovely variations, and very simple maintenance, succulents are excellent terrarium plants. This article will teach you how to construct a succulent terrarium and will provide you with a step-by-step list of the materials you’ll need.

Generally speaking, the processes required to create a succulent terrarium are as follows:

  • Select a terrarium vessel.
  • sanitize the container
  • Select and apply the bottom drainage layer.
  • Add a filter to help with separation
  • Apply a coat of charcoal
  • Succulent soil mixture should be added before plants.
  • Decorations

How well do succulents fare in terrariums?

For succulents, the planting media is essential. Succulents are ideal for terrariums because of their sluggish growth, but if the proper medium isn’t used, the condensation that could form could harm the tiny plants. Fill the container’s bottom with small rocks or gravel. An inch or so of charcoal is placed on top of this layer. This removes any pollutants and odors that may be present in the water. Sphagnum moss should next be added, followed by lightly wet cactus soil.

In the cactus mix, put the little plants, and then compact the dirt around them. To dig the holes and fill them in around the plants, a dowel or stick is useful. Plants should be placed at least an inch (2.5 cm) apart to allow for proper airflow. For the first several weeks, plants may require a Popsicle stick or small stake to hold them erect.

The really enjoyable part now is designing the terrarium. Add some seashells if you want a beach theme, or place some pebbles to go with the succulents if you want a desert theme. There are countless products that can be used to improve the terrarium’s natural appearance. Some growers even include porcelain figurines to heighten the whimsical atmosphere. Just make sure everything you put in the terrarium has been well cleaned to prevent introducing disease.

What kind of soil do I need for a terrarium with succulents?

More than 60 different plant families contain succulents, and each has its own distinctive charm. Although cacti and succulents are more resilient than the usual houseplant, they still have specific soil needs, so you need be sure your terrarium’s soil mix will support their growth.

The finest soil for a succulent terrarium should allow for drainage and aeration, not water retention. Brands of pre-mixed soil that give a perfect balance of minerals to organic elements include Bonsai Jack, Hoffmans, Terra Green, and Fat Plants. Superfly and Miracle-Gro are both excellent pre-mixes.

The ideal soil for your terrarium will try to replicate the soil’s characteristics and take into account the natural habitat of your succulents. You’ll be better able to select the ideal soil for your terrarium if you are aware of the particular requirements of your succulent. Continue reading to discover your succulent’s needs and the six best ways to meet them.

Can succulents be grown in just rocks?

It should be obvious that succulents will thrive when planted in rocks given these circumstances. They drain very well and do not retain water, which eliminates the possibility of root rot. This does not include another component of soil, though, since all plants need nutrients.

Although succulents are not particularly hungry plants, they do need certain nutrients to grow. Other micronutrients like zinc or iron are needed in smaller levels, whereas macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are essential. The plant won’t grow at all or last very long without these nutrients.

By their very nature, rocks don’t release nutrients quickly enough to keep the plants alive. They are composed of minerals, but since they decompose so slowly over time, they are not appropriate for growing on their own. Additionally, they often don’t retain enough moisture, allowing the roots to quickly dry out after draining practically instantly.

Sadly, this means that succulents cannot thrive permanently without soil in rocks. If not given regular care, they may survive for several weeks or even months on the nutrients found in the stems and leaves.

Need charcoal for terrariums with succulents?

A terrarium can and will run successfully without a coating of charcoal. The important query is whether a covering of charcoal has a long-term beneficial impact on terrarium health.

Sadly, there isn’t any hard research demonstrating how well charcoal filters out harmful contaminants from a terrarium.

It makes sense in theory, and there is anecdotal evidence from seasoned terrarium builders that suggests it’s a useful addition, but like many terrarium-building decisions, it comes down to personal preference and trial and error.

Personally, I find that I utilize it less and less. I opted not to use charcoal in the project for my Essential Guide to Tropical Terrariums and instead used springtails to keep my terrarium clean. It’s still my healthiest, to be honest.

However, if you do decide to utilize it, adding a charcoal layer to your terrarium is a simple modification that I’ve found to have no significant drawbacks.

Charcoal can still be used as a drainage component when creating terrariums with a false bottom. So it won’t be much of a hindrance to your plants if it’s placed between your drainage rocks and your substrate.

Try adding extra terrarium moss instead of charcoal if you’re not keen on that. In any case, moss naturally filters water and is capable of removing contaminants like arsenic.

Succulents — can they survive in a contained terrarium?

If the idea of going faux makes you sick to your stomach (Trust us, we get it! ), you may still arrange live succulents in a closed terrarium while keeping a few key considerations in mind.

When putting genuine succulents in a closed terrarium, airflow is your best friend. In fact, the dome of our Glass Cloche has air holes that will keep your enclosed terrarium from becoming overly humid. And if your closed terrarium does become a little humid, you can easily remove the lid for a few days to allow the environment to dry out before replacing it.

Here are a few other suggestions to keep your enclosed terrarium airy:

  • To help the soil stay dry, place drainage stones at the bottom of your terrarium.
  • The leaves of your succulents should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Choose a bright area with filtered sunlight as an alternative.
  • Your succulents won’t become soggy with a light weekly irrigation.

How should an open terrarium be watered for succulent plants?

Succulent, cactus, or tropical plant terrariums are like miniature universes. A self-contained plant environment inside of a glass container has a certain allure and beauty, and when set up and taken care of properly, these tiny ecosystems will flourish for years. Taking care of a terrarium may seem difficult, but with a few simple actions, you can make your terrarium happy.

How to maintain a terrarium is shown here. Succulents, cactus, and tropical plants are the three main plant types found in terrariums.

But first, it’s crucial to determine what kind of terrarium you have before we get into terrarium care.

The first kind of terrariums are “open” terrariums, which are the most popular and simple to maintain and the kind we sell in our brick-and-mortar and online stores. You will take care of your plants in these glass containers, which have an entrance for airflow. We will go into care details for open terrariums in this article.

A “closed” terrarium, the second kind of terrarium, is a little trickier to maintain and less typical. This is due to the glass’s lack of a sufficient hole through which to administer routine treatment. These confined terrariums behave more like self-contained universes and are a little more complicated to construct. There are a ton of excellent resources online that explain how to take care of a closed terrarium.

How to Care For a Terrarium with Succulents

The majority of plants found in terrariums are succulents, which have stems that hold water and thick, meaty leaves. This makes a lot of sense because succulents are ideal for small enclosures because they normally don’t mind getting too little water and don’t require a lot of root space to grow. Additionally, a lot of species remain small and compact, enabling them to survive for many years in a terrarium without being transplanted.

  • Light: Most succulents demand strong, if not direct, light, with the exception of a few species that can tolerate lower light levels, such Haworthia and Gasteria. Place your succulent terrarium in a bright area, but be careful because glass tends to magnify direct sunlight, which could cause your plants to burn.
  • Water: Although drought-tolerant, succulents are quite prone to root rot. You should only water your succulent terrarium sparingly until the soil has nearly entirely dried out, taking into account the lack of drainage holes in terrariums. Using a watering can or a spray bottle, water each plant’s base carefully. The majority of succulents will pucker their leaves slightly to let you know when it’s time to water them. This is an excellent sign that your terrarium needs watering.
  • How to fix shriveled leaves? I should water. black, brown, or mushy leaves? You water the lawn excessively. Replace these plants with ones that are similar, but don’t require as much water, and remove the old ones. Winter irrigation should be minimized.

How to Care For a Terrarium with Cacti

All succulents are succulents, but not all cacti are succulents. The majority of people are familiar with desert-dwelling cacti. With a few modifications, you can use the same directions for your succulent terrarium as for a terrarium with cacti:

  • Even more so than succulents, cacti frequently decay. Pay close attention to avoid overwatering.
  • Cacti require intense light to survive. Direct light should be acceptable for them.
  • There are always exceptions to the aforementioned laws. Rhipsalis, Hatiora, and Epiphyllum are examples of “jungle cactus,” which dislike bright light and require more water than typical cacti. Plant jungle cactus in their own enclosure or among other succulents that can tolerate less light for the greatest results.

How to Care For a Terrarium with Tropicals

A completely different game is played in tropical terrariums. We advise selecting species that are tolerant of wetness, such as philodendron, fittonia, and ferns. Remember that tropical plants will ultimately outgrow their terrarium confinement and require transplantation.

How to take care of a tropical terrarium is as follows:

  • The majority of tropical plants like medium-bright indirect light. If they are exposed to too much direct sunlight, especially when it is magnified by a glass vessel, they will burn.
  • Water: Although succulents and cacti are more drought-tolerant, care must still be taken not to overwater your tropical terrarium. Water each plant’s base with your watering can or spray bottle between waterings, letting the top inch or two of the soil dry in between. To encourage a humid climate, feel free to mist your terrarium in between waterings. Allowing the leaves to gently wilt in between waterings will help you determine when it’s time to water.
  • How to troubleshoot crispy brown or wilted leaves? I should water. Are the stems yellow or mushy? You water the lawn excessively. Replace harmed or overgrown plants with equivalent specimens. Winter irrigation should be minimized.

Any inquiries about terrarium maintenance? Share your questions and stories with us in the comments. As soon as we can, we’ll address your questions! Gardening in terrariums is fun!

Choose a Container

Half the fun of creating a terrarium is selecting the container and plants. You may purchase a variety of specialist terrarium containers, including some that cost hundreds of dollars and resemble little Victorian greenhouses or conservatories.

However, you can make a terrarium with nearly any transparent (glass or plastic) container with a wide opening (with or without a lid). Aquariums, goldfish bowls, Wardian cases, cold frames, bell jars, tureens, apothecary jars, cloches, mason jars, glass cookie jars, and even sizable brandy snifters are examples of containers that work well. You can insert your palm fully inside the container’s broad opening to add drainage material, soil, plants, and decorative components (shells, figurines, or ornaments).

Choose the Plants

The majority of garden centers have miniature plants for terrariums, sometimes right next to the accessories for fairy gardens. Select terrarium plants that can fit in your container and have a variety of foliage heights and forms, ideally without touching the terrarium’s sides.

Add Drainage Layers

You will need to make a drainage layer because the terrarium container lacks drainage holes, which will prevent water from getting near the plant roots. Crushed stone or gravel should be spread out in a 2-inch layer at first in the terrarium’s bottom. A deeper layer of drainage stones is needed for a tall, narrow terrarium than for a wide, shallow one.

Activated charcoal should then be spread on top of the stones in a 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer using a large spoon or trowel to aid drainage and eliminate any odors.

Add Moss and Potting Mix

To prevent the potting soil from blending with the stones and charcoal, add a layer of sheet moss next. The moss gives your terrarium additional visual interest.

Add a thin layer of moist, sterile potting soil on top of the moss using a large spoon or small trowel. Use potting soil without fertilizer added; terrarium plants don’t require additional fertilizer.

At least a few inches of potting mix should be added. In order for the plants to fit inside the container with room to grow but without hitting the top of a closed terrarium, it is important to keep the soil level low enough.

Prepare the Plants

Choose the layout of your terrarium before you start planting. Select the locations for your tall and short plants, as well as the mounds and dips you’ll make in the soil to create fascinating contours.

Plants should be taken out of their nursery pots. If a plant is bound by its roots, try tease the roots apart or cut some of the larger roots using a pair of small garden ships. When growing plants in the limits of a terrarium, root pruning, which involves removing certain roots, will slow a plant’s growth. Remove any damaged or yellowed leaves as well.

Add Plants

Clear the plants of any extra soil that remains. Dig a hole for each plant using a long spoon or your fingers. Place each plant in its hole, then use a soft patting motion to remove any air pockets and firmly anchor each one in the potting medium.

Use chopsticks, tongs, or long tweezers to place the plants into the terrarium and pat them in if it has a small entrance. To tamp down the soil, place a cork on the end of a skewer or chopstick, according to Tovah Martin’s book “The New Terrarium.”

Water the Terrarium

To water the plants so they are damp but not drenched, use a spray bottle or a small watering can with a rose attachment on its nozzle. You can use newspaper or a paper towel to wipe away any remaining dirt from the glass surfaces of your container after using the spray bottle to remove it.

Maintain the Plants

The majority of terrariums will thrive in an area with plenty of filtered light, but not in direct sunlight, which can heat up the terrarium and bake the plants inside. South-facing windows that receive a little shade can be perfect. Artificial grow lights will help your plants flourish if you don’t have enough naturally filtered sunlight, such as if your home is surrounded by shadow trees. Because LED and fluorescent artificial lighting typically don’t generate much heat, your plants can receive all the light they require to grow.

Terrarium maintenance is simple. Every few weeks, carry out these three actions:

  • Check the soil’s moisture content by feeling the surface. Terrariums that are partially or completely enclosed keep their water much longer than the majority of potted houseplants.
  • Check for condensation in a closed terrarium. To improve ventilation, remove the top once a month at the very least. Remove the top and wait for the condensation to go away. If you added too much water, remove the terrarium top as well.
  • If plants are getting too big for the container, cut them back to a smaller size and remove any yellowing or broken leaves.

In a terrarium, never fertilize the plants. Through the organic decomposition of the potting soil, terrariums provide their own nutrients.