Putting succulents inside small glass jars and containers is one of the best ways to upgrade their aesthetic value. When you mix and match stunning colorful succulents into your arrangement, you can create art. When you look at the finished product, they seem like tiny ecosystems that thrive on their own. This is a fun and exciting activity for hobbyists, new succulent growers, and even kids in your household. You won’t have a hard time letting them grow because, as you already know, succulents are neglect-resistant and low-maintenance plants.
The only thing you need to consider while raising them is always to keep their environment dry. Succulents are generally sensitive to overwatering, so excessive moisture can halt their growth or cause them to die. Also, unlike terracotta pots, these glass containers don’t usually have bottom holes that allow water to drain. This only means that they can be a habitat for fungus when you overwater them, or their roots might rot.
In today’s article, we will be learning more succulent terrariums; specifically the types of succulents you should use to build a terrarium. Aside from that, we will also teach you how to take care of these plants after successfully creating an ecosystem for them. Don’t worry if you’re new to terrarium building, as this project is as easy as one, two, three.
What Are Succulent Terrariums
The straightforward answer to this question is this — succulent terrariums are succulents grown and arranged in a small glass container or aquariums. If you think aquarium jars and glass containers are too common, you can also try using glass orbs, compote, or trifle bowls, Wardian cases, soup bowls, or stemless wine cups.
The goal here is to keep water from accumulating on the soil to keep fungus away and keep your succulent roots from rotting. So, instead of drilling a hole at the bottom of your containers, you should use drainage like bark chips, rocks, and sand instead.
Benefits of Succulent Terrariums
Makes You Healthier and Happier
Growing succulents makes you healthier and happier. Besides that, the plant’s aesthetic appeal and arrangement are also enticing and calming to the eyes. They don’t look just like ordinary succulents planted here and there. Instead, they look like mini forests in cool containers.
Aside from that, starting a succulent terrarium project with your family, kids, or fellow hobbyist friends can be a fulfilling and satisfying experience. As you watch these plants grow and thrive, you also develop that more profound sense of attachment and familiarity with the plant. With that attachment, you grow the desire to propagate them well.
Makes You Calmer and Relaxed
These succulent arrangements can also make you calm and relaxed as they represent a green, lush environment. When you start arranging them, your mind focuses on the task, slowly taking your mind away from what’s stressing you out. Transferring or moving them to a new container can also be equally rewarding and relaxing as you naturally let your hands move while enjoying a moment of tranquility.
How Do Succulent Terrariums Work
The mechanism of the succulent terrarium is relatively easy. The process you need to follow to grow and arrange them in glass and aquarium jars is quite similar to repotting succulents and growing succulent bonsais. You need to keep the plant from being soaked in water while giving them enough room to breathe and grow. The only difference is in succulent terrariums; the container doesn’t have holes where water can naturally drain.
As a result, you need to improvise using bark chips, rocks, and sand as drainage. To keep the potting mix intact, you will also need coffee filters. These filters will hold the soil in place as you water your succulents. Besides that, you also need to ensure that the succulent roots don’t get infected by fungus.
To keep the arrangement from developing a foul smell, you can also use charcoal as a disinfectant or purifier. Without this, your succulent terrarium will be susceptible to fungus growth. As you already know, an abundance of fungus in your succulent can cause its roots to decay.
Pros and Cons of Succulent Terrariums
- Succulent terrariums can improve your mood and make you feel happier.
- Working on a succulent terrarium task can be fun and relaxing when done with family, kids, friends, or fellow succulent terrarium hobbyists.
- They can break the monotony in your garden as they look attractive and different from usually potted succulents.
- They can make you more attentive and agile as you move your way in your garden and indoors.
- For the elderly, growing plants like succulents can be a rewarding and de-stressing experience.
- It’s an excellent way to teach your kids to take care of the living things around them.
- You will need extra precaution when growing and maintaining succulents in terrariums since the containers they usually grow in don’t have drainage at the bottom.
- The act of arranging and maintaining your succulent terrarium is more strenuous and demanding than the usually potted succulents — you need to be deeply committed when you choose to start this project.
Types of Succulent Terrariums
This succulent terrarium type needs rocks, charcoals, soil, and pebble to grow appropriately and thrive inside its container. Since the container where they’re grown doesn’t come with a lid, they prefer to propagate in drier conditions.
As opposed to open terrariums, closed terrariums come with a lid. As such, the environment of the succulent inside it is a bit higher. They are more self-sufficient than the open type because as water from the soil evaporates, it condenses on the sides of the glass before going back to the soil. Photosynthesis can still happen because the light can still pass through the glass walls.
Among the other types of succulent terrariums, this is the easiest to manage because its container is like a typical succulent dish — except that it doesn’t come with drainage holes. Because of the lowered glass walls, the terrarium looks more like a dish garden instead of an aquarium jar.
As the term suggests, this type of terrarium is best for hanging succulents. They often hang on the wall; that’s why they resemble wall sconces.
They are called such because the glass container with the succulents is usually encased in a wooden structure.
Best Succulents for Terrariums
Here are the common types of succulents to use when you intend to place them inside glass and aquarium jars.
Hen and Chicks Succulents
Hen and Chicks Succulents also do well inside a terrarium because of their tough nature. However, according to succulent growers and terrarium experts, this species grows best inside a terrarium with other desert plants.
Tillandsia or Air Plant
This succulent variety does best in open terrariums because they thrive in humid environments. Your goal is to mimic a succulent environment with a more elevated relative humidity and better airflow. These are the requirements for them to thrive inside a terrarium.
Kalanchoe Luciae or Flapjack
This succulent species is best to grow inside a terrarium because they only need the bare minimum to grow. As long as you don’t overwater them and expose them to reflected sunlight, they will indeed thrive.
Haworthia Fasciata or Zebra Plant
Haworthias need partial sunlight. Like other succulents, they are neglect-resistant, making them ideal for growing inside a terrarium. When you choose to grow them inside a terrarium, you need to ensure that they get fertilized once every four to six months.
This plant is best grown indoors as a bonsai. They only need a bit of sunlight before they grow in full bloom; that’s why they look best inside a terrarium.
Ghost Plant or Mother of Pearl
This succulent is best known for its beautiful hanging rosettes. Because of this, they are one of the best plants for hanging terrariums.
How to Make a Succulent Terrarium
Step 1 – Choose a succulent variety
Take note of the type of succulents you want to grow inside a terrarium. Once you’ve chosen your plant, choose a suitable terrarium for their species. For example, if you’re going to put a Ghost Plant inside a terrarium, it’s best to go for a hanging one to emphasize the beauty of the hanging rosettes of this plant.
Step 2 – Prepare your tools
As mentioned above, you need a different set of tools when growing succulents inside a terrarium. Generally, you need to prepare the following — glass jar, potting mix, drainage like bark chips, rocks, sand, coffee filter, and charcoal. Also, make sure to clean your terrarium thoroughly to keep molds from forming and rotting your plants.
Step 3 – Lay the drainage as a base
At the bottom of your container, carefully your choice of drainage. Make sure that they are scattered well to ensure proper absorption of water. After the drainage, lay your coffee filter to keep the potting mix and drainage from mixing.
Step 4 – Lay the charcoal
Ensure that the charcoal layer is also thoroughly scattered to keep the fungus from reaching the roots. The charcoal layer will serve as a plant purifier. Without them, your succulents might be infected with fungus.
Step 5 – Lay your potting mix and plant the succulent
After the charcoal layer, it’s now time to scatter the potting mix and make a hole at the center for the succulent to be appropriately positioned.
Step 6 – Decorate with colorful rocks and pebbles
There’s no right or wrong in decorating the topmost layer of the succulent terrarium. Let your creativity guide you as you make your plant more presentable.
How to Care for Succulents in Terrariums
Step 1 – Choose an appropriate terrarium
We can’t forget to stress this critical point in taking care of your succulent — once you’ve chosen your plant, select the proper terrarium for their species. For example, if you want to put a Ghost Plant inside a terrarium, it’s best to go for a hanging one to emphasize the beauty of the hanging rosettes of this plant. Echeverias can burn from too much sun, so you need to choose the glass material for your terrarium. You need one that tempers the level of light the plant gets.
Step 2 – Study the environment
You need to give your succulents what they need. For example, air plants do best in open terrariums because they thrive in humid environments. So, your goal is to mimic a succulent environment with a more elevated relative humidity and better airflow, as these are the requirements for them to thrive inside a terrarium. In addition, some succulents have flowers that bloom in season, while pink succulents get even more beautiful when they’re under stress. You need to know these peculiarities to provide your plant with the best environment.
Step 3 – Never overwater them
To recapitulate, succulents are generally sensitive to overwatering, so excessive moisture can halt their growth or cause them to die. Unlike terracotta pots, these glass containers don’t usually have bottom holes that allow water to drain. This only means that they can be a habitat for fungus when you overwater them, or their roots might rot.
Succulent Terrarium Alternatives
As you already know, growing succulents inside a terrarium can be pretty challenging because the container lacks drainage. So, if you’re looking for alternatives, here are some options you can enjoy.
Recreate a Smaller Version of Your Garden
Terrariums are famous for their small world vibe, so you can replicate the same vibe with fairy gardens using broken pots.
Tropical Plants Terrarium
Tropical plants inside a terrarium are a good idea and can be more self-sufficient than succulents.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to making succulent terrariums, more spending doesn’t automatically mean better quality because you can find cost-effective materials to create a terrarium. Plus, you can also propagate succulent varieties to plant in your terrarium. In this kind of project, creativity is the measure of quality.
Do’s and Don’ts With Succulent Terrariums
- Consider adding a rare succulent to your terrarium.
- Remember that cacti prefer dry surroundings and purple succulents do well under the shade.
- Know what succulent you want to grow inside a terrarium before choosing the terrarium type.
- Invest in the world’s best blue succulents and premium black succulents.
- Pair your succulent arrangements with indoor thriving bunny ears succulents for a better appeal.
- Never overwater the succulents inside your terrarium.
- Never forget to fertilize them once every four to six months.
- Go against the nature of your chosen succulent terrarium variety.
FAQ About Succulent Terrariums
Are terrariums good for succulents?
Some succulents are ideal to be grown inside a terrarium. A few of them include Hen and Chicks Succulents, Tillandsia or Air plant, Kalanchoe Luciae or Flapjack, Haworthia fasciata or zebra plant, Jade plant, and Ghost Plant or Mother of Pearl.
How long do succulent terrariums last?
If the succulents inside the terrarium are placed under ideal conditions, they can last for 53 years or more.
Do you need activated charcoal for a succulent terrarium?
As stated above, to keep the arrangement from developing a foul smell, you can also use charcoal as a disinfectant or purifier. Without this, your succulent terrarium will be susceptible to fungus growth. An abundance of fungus in your succulent can cause its roots to decay.
Should terrariums be open or closed?
Generally, we have open and closed terrariums. Open terrariums need rocks, charcoal, soil, and pebble to grow appropriately and thrive inside their container. Since the container where the plant is grown doesn’t come with a lid, they prefer to propagate in drier conditions. On the other hand, closed terrariums come with a lid. As such, the environment of the succulent inside it is a bit higher. They are more self-sufficient than the open type because as water from the soil evaporates, it condenses on the sides of the glass before going back to the soil. Photosynthesis can still happen because the light can still pass through the glass walls.
Why is my terrarium dying?
You might have overwatered your succulents, and you didn’t follow the instruction to use drainage like bark chips, rocks, and sand. You may have also neglected to add a layer of charcoal to your terrarium, and this made the fungus attack its roots.
Do terrariums get moldy?
Yes, they can. That’s why you need to clean your terrarium thoroughly with water and soap before you plant your succulents inside it. This will ensure that molds are washed away.
Why does my terrarium smell bad?
You may have overwatered your succulent, and you forgot to add a layer of charcoal to serve as a purifier. That foul smell is a smell of rotten roots.
The environment where you grow your succulent terrarium must match its needs to ensure that your plant thrives and survives. Take note of the tips and steps we shared above to ensure that your succulent terrarium grows healthy and remains steadfast for 50 years or more!
Photos from: Milkos / depositphotos.com, belchonock / depositphotos.com, smspsy / depositphotos.com and amixstudio / depositphotos.com.