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How to Grow and Care for Succulent Terrariums

10 min read

How to Grow and Care for Succulent Terrariums

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While plant and succulent terrariums have been around for some time, lately they have become super trendy, thanks to social media and design magazines. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are filled with cool pictures of these mini gardens, making them really popular. Design magazines also show off these little ecosystems within their interior photos, giving people lots of ideas to try in their homes. People love succulent terrariums because they're not just plants; they're l tiny, beautiful works of art and a great way to add a touch of creativity to indoor gardening.

Terrariums offer more than a chic look; they actually make wonderful succulent homes! They create miniature ecosystems that serve as a creative outlet for plant enthusiasts and offer a practical solution for those seeking a low-maintenance yet beautiful plant arrangement. The transparent walls of the glass container allow for a clear view of the intricate details of the succulents, creating a captivating display. Additionally, the enclosed environment of the terrarium helps to maintain moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering and contributing to a more self-sustaining plant ecosystem.

For those who haven't explored the world of succulent terrariums, it's a wonderful opportunity to combine creativity with plant care. It's a delightful and rewarding experience that adds a touch of nature to any environment. If you haven't tried it yet, it's definitely worth giving it a go!

Succulent Terrariums Vs Succulent Pots

A succulent terrarium offers a captivating display within a glass or transparent container, allowing an unobstructed view of the carefully chosen succulent species. This miniature garden is set in a well-draining substrate, often a blend of sand, perlite, and potting soil tailored to meet the specific requirements of succulents. The unique charm of a succulent terrarium lies in the thoughtful arrangement of various succulent species, each selected for its distinct form, color, and texture, contributing to a visually appealing composition. Succulent terrariums showcase diversity in design, ranging from open containers featuring individual succulents to closed, sealed terrariums that establish a self-sustaining microenvironment. The choice of container, selection of succulents, and the addition of decorative elements like stones or miniature figurines all play a role in shaping the terrarium's overall appearance.

In contrast, succulent pots provide a more accessible and straightforward approach to caring for these plants. The pots, made from materials such as classic clay or modern ceramics, offer flexibility in design. Unlike terrariums, pots are generally smaller and can accommodate a single succulent or a small grouping. The portability of succulent pots allows for easy relocation, making it convenient to move your plants indoors or outdoors as needed. Additionally, pots facilitate drainage, simplifying succulent care and preventing issues like root rot. Potting and repotting succulents in normal pots is a hassle-free task, making these containers a practical choice for succulent enthusiasts.

Choosing between a pot and a terrarium largely depends on personal preference. In general, making and caring for a succulent terrarium may require a bit more expertise and knowledge, but with a correct guideline, it is a task that any succulent lover can tackle!

[Advantages and Challenges] Succulent Terrariums – Advantages and Challenges

Succulent terrariums come with both advantages and potential challenges. Let's explore the positive aspects and considerations associated with these captivating plant displays.

Advantages

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Succulent terrariums offer a visually stunning and customizable way to showcase a variety of succulent species. The transparent container allows for an unobstructed view, highlighting the unique forms, colors, and textures of the plants.
  • Creative Expression: Designing a succulent terrarium provides an opportunity for creative expression. Plant arrangements, choice of container, and decorative elements like stones or figurines can be combined to create a personalized and aesthetically pleasing composition.
  • Microenvironment: Sealed succulent terrariums create a self-sustaining microenvironment. The closed container can retain moisture, creating a humid atmosphere that benefits certain succulent species.
  • Space-Saving: Succulent terrariums can be a space-saving solution, making them suitable for smaller living spaces, offices, or as tabletop decorations. Instead of several pots, you can have your plants all in one fancy, see-through container. 
Succulent terrariums offer a visually stunning and customizable way to showcase a variety of succulent species.

Challenges

  • Drainage: Proper drainage is crucial for succulents, and some terrarium designs may lack sufficient drainage. Without adequate drainage, excess water can lead to root rot. It's important to choose or design a terrarium with drainage solutions in mind.
  • Expertise: Designing and maintaining a succulent terrarium may require a bit more expertise compared to traditional succulent pots. Factors like substrate choice, plant arrangement, and managing the enclosed environment need careful consideration.
  • Choice of Succulents: Not all succulents thrive in the conditions created by a sealed terrarium. It's essential to choose succulent species that can adapt to the specific microenvironment within the container.
  • Maintenance: Sealed terrariums may require more attention to prevent excessive moisture buildup. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the watering routine may be necessary to avoid issues like fungal growth.

How To Make a Succulent Terrarium

Materials

  • Glass Container: We recommend finding a glass container with an opening that facilitates airflow, creating an optimal environment for your succulents. Avoid fully closed containers to ensure better ventilation within the terrarium. 
  • Well-Draining Potting Mix: Acquire a well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for succulents and cacti. This mix is crucial for maintaining the right balance of moisture and preventing waterlogging, which can be detrimental to succulent roots.
  • Drainage Layer (Small Pebbles or Rocks): Place a layer of small pebbles or rocks at the base of the container. This layer acts as a drainage system, preventing excess water from accumulating and safeguarding the succulents from potential root rot.

  • Activated Charcoal:Place a thin layer of activated charcoal over the rocks. This addition serves as a natural filter, absorbing excess moisture, preventing mold growth, and ensuring a fresh and odor-free environment within the terrarium.
  • Succulent Plants:Choose a selection of succulent plants with different colors, forms, and textures. This diversity enhances the visual appeal of the terrarium and provides a miniaturized representation of the succulent world. Consider the growth habits, colors, and sizes of the plants to create a harmonious and visually appealing composition. Make sure your plants have similar care requirements (lighting, watering, soil and humidity level). 
  • Decorative Elements (Optional):Consider incorporating decorative elements such as stones, shells, or figurines to add a personalized touch to your succulent terrarium. These elements not only enhance aesthetics but also contribute to the overall theme and design.
  • Small Gardening Tools:We need small gardening tools, such as a mini shovel or trowel, for precise planting and arrangement of the succulents within the confined space of the terrarium.
  • Watering Can or Spray Bottle:Have a watering can or spray bottle on hand for the careful and controlled watering of the succulents. Succulents thrive in well-drained soil, so moderation in watering is key to their health.
  • Terrarium Design: Decide on a theme or aesthetic that aligns with your personal preferences and complements your living space. Whether it's a desert-inspired landscape or a lush, green haven, having a theme in mind will guide your plant and decor selection. Your design includes the plan of succulent arrangement within the terrarium. You can experiment with placing taller succulents towards the back and smaller ones towards the front for depth.

Preparation

Choosing the Right Container:When you start making your succulent terrarium, the first thing to do is pick a good container. Go for a glass container that has an opening for air to flow through. It could be a bowl, vase, or any clear container that fits your style. The fact that you can see through the container not only lets you see the plants inside but also adds to how nice it looks.

Go for a glass container that has an opening for air to flow through. 

Photo: tuacasa.com.br

Making Sure Water Drains Well:To keep your succulents safe from problems like root rot, it's important to have a good drainage system. Put a layer of small pebbles or rocks at the bottom of the container to help water drain away. This layer acts like a drainage system, stopping water from building up around the roots and making sure your succulents stay healthy.

Using Charcoal for a Healthy Terrarium: Sprinkle a thin layer of it over the rocks. This does two things for your terrarium. First, it helps soak up extra water, so you don't get mold. Second, it keeps the terrarium smelling fresh and nice.

Adding Potting Mix:Now that you've got ways to drain water and control moisture, it's time to add something for your succulents to grow in. Put a layer of well-draining potting mix on top of the charcoal. Make sure the mix is made for succulents and cacti, as they need a special kind of soil. This layer gives your succulents the food and air they need to grow well in their enclosed space. The soil should be slightly moist but not wet. 

Planting

Planting Your Succulents:Now comes the fun part – planting your chosen succulents. In the potting mix you prepared earlier, create small holes using your fingers or a tool. Carefully place each succulent in these holes, making sure to cover their roots with soil. Take your time arranging them in a way that looks pleasing to you. Feel free to get creative with the placement, experimenting until you find the perfect arrangement that suits your taste. Follow your plant design and make sure each plant has enough space and airflow. 

Decorating (Optional):To elevate the visual appeal of your terrarium, consider adding some decorative elements. This step is entirely optional but can enhance the overall aesthetic. You can include stones, shells, or small figurines among your succulents. These additions not only add a touch of personality but also contribute to the overall charm of your succulent terrarium. 

Monitoring

Once you've completed the planting process, hold off watering, allowing your succulents a few days to acclimate to their new environment. Optimal placement is key for the well-being of your terrarium. Situate it in a well-lit area with ample bright, indirect light, while being cautious about direct sunlight exposure. Avoid placing the terrarium near windows where harsh, direct sunlight could lead to sunburn or scorching of the delicate leaves.

Maintaining sufficient airflow within the room is crucial to prevent potential issues like mold and overwatering. Adequate ventilation ensures a healthy environment for your succulents to thrive. Vigilance is essential, and regular monitoring of your plants is recommended. Watch for signs of stress, overwatering, or excess moisture, adjusting your care routine accordingly. By attentively observing and responding to the needs of your succulents, you'll contribute to the overall health and longevity of your beautifully crafted terrarium.

How To Care for Succulent Terrariums

To ensure your terrarium thrives, it's essential to provide a nurturing environment tailored to the unique needs of these drought-tolerant plants.

Light

Lighting is the deciding factor for succulent health. These sun-loving plants require ample light to flourish, so positioning your terrarium in a spot bathed in bright, indirect sunlight will help maintain their vibrant colors and compact form. Be mindful, though—direct rays magnified through glass can create a greenhouse effect, leading to scorched leaves and unhappy plants.

Water

Watering your succulent terrarium is an exercise in restraint. Succulents store water in their fleshy leaves and stems, allowing them to withstand periods of drought. Overwatering is a common pitfall that can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. When it comes time to water, do so sparingly, ensuring the soil has completely dried out from the previous watering. A dropper or small watering can will give you control over the amount of water you provide, preventing accidental overwatering. 

Drainage

This is another critical factor in succulent care. While traditional terrariums may lack drainage holes at the bottom, creating layers with materials like gravel or activated charcoal can help manage excess moisture effectively. This setup mimics natural drainage and keeps roots from sitting in water.

Ventilation 

Moisture management—good airflow helps prevent mold and mildew growth within your terrarium's microclimate. If your container has a lid or cover, opening it periodically will allow fresh air to circulate and stale air to escape.

When selecting a container for your succulent terrarium, consider opting for an open design which offers better airflow compared to closed containers and reduces humidity levels—a crucial aspect since high humidity can be detrimental to these desert dwellers.

Fertilization

Fertilizing isn’t recommended for a succulent terrarium, because it is difficult to flush the soil afterward. It then may easily lead to overfertilization and chemical buildup in the potting mix. 

Pruning and Grooming 

These are part of regular maintenance. Just remove dead or dying foliage to maintain plant health and keep your miniature landscape looking pristine.

Pests and Diseases

Regular monitoring for pests such as mealybugs or diseases like powdery mildew is vital as they can quickly take hold in the enclosed environment of a terrarium.

Temperature

Lastly, temperature control ensures that your succulents remain comfortable year-round; most varieties prefer moderate warmth between 60°F and 75°F. Protect them from extreme heat sources as well as chilly drafts which could induce stress. Don’t forget that your plants may become overheated due to the glass container. 

Succulent Terrariums Trouble Shootings

Photo: buzzfeed.com

Prevent overheating for succulents planted in glass terrariums

Preventing overheating in succulents planted in a glass terrarium is crucial for their well-being. Since glass can intensify heat, take precautions to create a suitable environment for your plants. Choose a location with bright, indirect light, but avoid placing the terrarium in direct sunlight, especially during hot periods. Ensure proper ventilation by occasionally opening the lid or removing it to allow excess heat to escape. Consider placing the terrarium in a room with consistent airflow to prevent heat buildup. 

Additionally, monitor the temperature in the vicinity, and if it tends to get too hot, consider relocating the terrarium to a cooler spot. These measures will help maintain a favorable temperature for your succulents and prevent overheating-related stress.

Optimize drainage in succulent terrariums

Since glass terrariums usually don’t have drainage holes, ensuring proper drainage is crucial and can be challenging. The key is to optimize the effectiveness of the pebble and stone layer as a makeshift drainage system. These materials promote water runoff and prevent waterlogging, a common issue with succulents. Additionally, adequate airflow is essential for drying the soil and enhancing oxygen flow to the root system. Regularly monitor the plants for signs of overwatering, such as wilting or yellowing leaves, and address the issue promptly to avoid related problems. This proactive approach will contribute to the overall health and vitality of your succulent terrarium.

Repot succulents in a terrarium

Repotting a succulent terrarium can be a bit tricky due to the limited space and intricate design. To handle this task smoothly, focus on selectively repotting plants that need immediate attention to minimize disruption to the overall arrangement. 

Utilize small gardening tools like tweezers or long-handled tools to delicately lift and reposition the succulents within the confined terrarium space. Loosen the soil around the roots gently, reducing stress on the plants and making removal easier. Plan the arrangement strategically, positioning larger or easily reachable plants toward the edges for easier future repotting. If your terrarium design permits, take apart some elements by removing decorations and rocks to access specific plants. Consider using specialized terrarium repotting tools designed to navigate small spaces without causing damage.

Practice patience throughout the repotting process to prevent accidental harm to the succulents or the overall terrarium arrangement, ensuring a successful and careful transition.

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