How to Plant Succulents in a Terrarium?

Succulents are the perfect plant to put in a terrarium. Not only do they fit well and grow slowly to a size that a terrarium can accommodate, but they also look great in it. The challenging part is figuring out how to plant succulents in a terrarium.

Since succulents hate wet environments, certain adjustments must be made so they can thrive in a terrarium. You’ll need sufficient layers of charcoal, moss, soil, and other garden essentials to keep them in a healthy shape. Take note that your terrarium must also be big enough to support your succulent’s growth and other decorations.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to plant succulents in a terrarium. We’ll also go into detail on how to take care of them in such a small and enclosed environment. Let’s get started!

How Do I Make My Own Succulent Terrarium?

Making your own succulent terrarium is quite easy and can even be a fun project to do with your kids. You can get as creative as you want to as long as it retains an arid environment in the container.

You just have to remember to keep the terrarium as dry as possible with very little water and moisture retention. Succulents thrive in dry environments to the point that they can sustain themselves well in droughts.

As such, if their surroundings are just a bit too wet, they may not survive long. Overwatering is easily the biggest threat to their longevity.

Here’s how you can create a safe and efficient terrarium for your succulent:

1.   Choose Your Terrarium Container

Succulents 4

The first thing you need to do is to choose and prepare your terrarium container. Try to have an idea of your theme so you can measure how big of a container you’ll need.

Choose a container that’s deep enough to accommodate multiple layers. It’s also ideal for the container to be open so it can keep a low humidity level.

Some of the most common terrarium containers include:

Most of these containers are relatively cheap, so you don’t have to worry about spending too much. If you have some DIY containers at home, they can work just as well.

2.   Clean the Container

Before you start adding your layers, make sure that your terrarium container is clean and dry. Use antibacterial soap and hot water to scrub off any dirt or chemical residue.

Rinse the container after scrubbing and pat it dry. You can also let it sit for a while until it’s completely dry and clear of moisture before you assemble your terrarium. This will help prevent mold buildup and rotting in your succulent.

Also Check: How to Prepare Soil for Succulents

3.   Create a Drainage System

Having a drainage system in your terrarium is essential to keep the layers closest to your succulent from oversaturating. The initial drainage layer will serve as the catcher of excess water in case of overwatering.

However, it’s still best to practice proper watering techniques. You must always ensure that the upper layers of your terrarium are as dry as possible.

To create a drainage layer, add around an inch or two of gravel, pebbles, sand, or bark chips. If you’re using stones, make sure to wash them first.

Fill the bottom part of the container until it creates a semi-flat surface. It also helps if your container has small holes at the bottom for the water to get out of.

4.   Add a Layer of Activated Charcoal for Filtration

Activated charcoal

After the drainage layer, it’s necessary to top it with some activated charcoal, which will act as your terrarium’s purifier. You can either use shards or granules of charcoal and around an inch should suffice.

Activated charcoal is a must-have for a terrarium as it prevents bacteria growth, mold buildup, developing odors, and rotting. It also serves as a filter for the layers to not mix up.

If you have a drainage hole in your container, activated charcoal is optional. We still recommend having a layer of it, though, to keep your terrarium smelling nice and fresh.

5.   Add a Layer of Moss (Growing Media)

Before adding soil to your terrarium, we’ll need a divider to keep the soil from mixing with the layers of stones and activated charcoal. This layer is called growing media, and in terrarium terms, we’ll be using moss.

Most mosses retain a lot of humidity, so we can only use peat or sphagnum moss. These mosses fit perfectly well with succulents since they can absorb a lot of water and dry quickly.

Less than an inch’s worth of moss sheet should suffice as a protective layer for the soil to sit on. As long as it keeps the soil from falling into the stones and charcoal, that should be good to go.

6.   Add a Layer of Soil and Your Other Hardscape Elements

Once you’ve got your moss sheet laid out, we can move on to adding soil. Since we’re working with succulents, don’t just use any type of soil. Stick with a succulent potting mix.

The difference between succulent soil with others is that it absorbs water better and works as a drainage to keep your succulent’s feet dry. It also has the essential nutrients your succulent will need to thrive in a terrarium.

Now, the hardscape is the best part, as you get to unleash your inner creativity to make your terrarium look alive.

Depending on your concept or theme, you can add just about anything for decoration. Remember to sanitize and dry the well before placing them in the terrarium.

Common hardscape elements and decorations for terrariums include:

  • Figurines
  • Fake plants
  • Colored or textured rocks
  • Hardwoods
  • Pine cones

You can decorate as much as you like to add shape and dynamics to your terrarium. Just don’t forget to leave some space for your succulents.

7.   Plant Your Succulent Firmly on the Soil

Plant Succulents in a Terrarium

Now to the most important part: planting your succulent. To get started:

  1. Remove the succulent from its former pot.
  2. Gently remove as many substrates as you can, until the roots are clear of any soil residue.
  3. You can spray a bit of water on the succulent soil to make it more malleable for easier planting.
  4. Dig the soil up just enough to create space for the succulent’s roots.
  5. Place the succulent in the soil, then cover the roots with additional soil until they aren’t visible.

And voila! You’ve got yourself a terrarium succulent. If you need ideas on which succulent to use, here are some common examples:

  • Aeonium
  • Hens and chicks
  • Echeveria
  • Dwarf aloe
  • Jade plant

How to Take Care of Terrarium Succulents

Once you have your terrarium succulent settled on a desk, shelf, coffee table, or anywhere else at your home, it almost feels like a sin to touch them. It’s understandable since you might be in fear of ruining the miniature forest you’ve built.

However, it’s necessary to do some maintenance checks every once in a while. Don’t worry! It’s almost stress-free and won’t take too much effort.

Here’s what you need to remember to keep your terrarium in good shape:

  • Use a spray bottle to water the soil, and only do so when the soil is completely dry.
  • Keep the terrarium in a place where it has a sufficient and indirect light source.
  • The general rule of thumb for repotting terrariums is at least every two years.
  • Never fertilize the soil in your terrarium succulent.

Related: Succulent Temperature Requirements

Wrap Up: How to Plant Succulents in a Terrarium

It may sound intimidating to make your own succulent terrarium, but it’s actually quite easy. You just need to be wary of the needed layers to ensure they can grow safely in the container.

The results of such a fun and dainty project are amazing. You’ll always have an eye candy to appreciate in the comforts of your home.