How to Make a Succulent Terrarium: The Beginner’s Guide

Written by Nikita Ross
Updated: August 4, 2023
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Succulent terrariums are the perfect blend of art and science. These eye-catching domes bring a touch of the outside indoors and provide a creative outlet. Creating these miniature indoor gardens requires care, planning, and consideration. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a succulent terrarium for beginners.

How to Choose the Right Succulent Terrarium Container 

The first step in making a succulent terrarium is choosing the right container. 

Glass containers are the most popular choice, as they provide visibility so you can see all the succulents in their environment. The glass also helps create a micro-climate, trapping moisture and enhancing the sun’s heat.

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You can make a succulent terrarium with plastic, but it should be high-quality to withstand the sun over time.

Choosing the size and shape of your container depends on how large you want your terrarium to be and how many succulents you wish to include. 

When choosing the shape, consider the aesthetics of the vessel and the accessibility — terrariums with small openings can be difficult for beginners to set up without damaging their plants. It’s also essential to have ample airflow in and out of the terrarium to avoid mold, pests, and rot.

Succulent gardens in glass vases on wooden floor.

Glass containers are a great choice for your succulent terrarium, allowing you to see all your succulents in their environment.

©Africa Studio/

How to Choose the Right Succulent Terrarium Soil

Sufficient drainage is essential for succulents. Prolonged exposure to excess moisture often leads to root rot, killing your succulent and those around it. This concern is heightened in a terrarium where several succulents are sharing the soil.

One of the challenges with a terrarium is that they don’t typically have drainage holes. While drilling drainage holes into plastic containers is feasible, the same can’t be said for glass containers.

As such, choosing the right soil will make or break your succulent terrarium.

Choose a well-draining succulent soil mix or create your own by adding sand or perlite to potting soil. You’ll also want pebbles, river rocks, or gravel underneath the soil layer to create more drainage and move excess water away from the sensitive succulent roots.

The bright side is that river rocks or colored gravel will add a nice aesthetic to your terrarium, as you’ll see the layers under the soil.

Succulent terrarium with drainage pebbles

Using pebbles, river rocks, or gravel underneath the soil layer can help to create more drainage.


The Best Succulents for a Succulent Terrarium

There are several things to consider when creating a succulent terrarium. The shape and color are important considerations for the appearance of your arrangement. However, compatibility and suitability for this environment are the number one priority.

Some of the best succulents for terrariums include the following.


This succulent comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors, creating a lovely palette for your creative terrarium. Echeveria is ideal for a small container because it is low-growing and shallow rooting.


This is another top choice for terrariums. Like Echeveria, Sedum succulents have several colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from. They’re easy to propagate, hardy in nature, and pair well with Echeveria.


This is another popular choice due to its small, compact size. This succulent has unique, spiky leaves that add a nice contrast and texture to a terrarium.


This succulent is similar to aloe but smaller and more compact. Its thick, spiky leaves come in several shades and pair well with Hawthoria.


This flowering succulent adds a pop of color and dimension to a terrarium. Better yet, this succulent is low maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of conditions, helping it adapt to the needs of its soil mates. 


Also known as the dwarf jade plant, this succulent is great if you want to take your terrarium vertical. Create a magical indoor garden with this tree-like succulent as your centerpiece. It pairs exceptionally well with Kalanchoe. This is also a nice alternative to a true jade plant, which isn’t suitable for a terrarium environment.

Echeveria are ideal for succulent terrariums

Low-growing and shallow rooting,


are ideal for succulent terrariums.

© van Ginkel

Which Succulents Aren’t Right for Terrariums?

Most succulents do well in a terrarium, with a few exceptions. Cacti aren’t suited for a packed environment, as they require more drainage and airflow.

As mentioned previously, jade also isn’t suited for a terrarium. Aeoniums also tend to struggle due to their branching growth patterns.

Tools Needed for Assembling Your Terrarium

Once you’ve chosen your succulents and container, it’s time to assemble everything. For this project, you will need:

  • Glass container or terrarium
  • Succulent soil mix
  • Decorative sand or pebbles
  • Succulent plants
  • Small trowel or spoon
  • Watering can or spray bottle
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Rubber tongs (optional)
  • Decorative elements (optional)

Rubber tongs are a nice addition if you’re using a vessel with a small opening or awkward curvature. The soft rubber will protect your succulent while you maneuver it into the terrarium.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium: Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Set up your workspace, washing your tools and container before you get started.
  2. Fill the bottom of the container with a layer of decorative sand or pebbles. This will help with drainage and create a nice base for the succulent plants.
  3. Add the layer of succulent soil mix on top of the drainage mix. 
  4. Arrange your succulent plants in the soil, starting with the largest plants first or at the back of the terrarium if you’ve chosen an angled option. Leave enough space between plants to allow for growth.
  5. Use a small trowel or spoon to gently pack soil around the plants, making sure they are firmly rooted.
  6. Water the soil lightly, being careful not to over-water. Use a watering can or spray bottle to moisten the soil evenly.
  7. Finish by adding decorative elements, such as stones, shells, or miniature figurines, as desired.
  8. Place the terrarium in a location with bright, indirect light, and monitor the soil moisture levels regularly. Water only when the soil is completely dry to the touch.
Succulent florarium workspace

Setting up your workspace with all the tools and elements needed before you start will make creating your succulent terrarium easier.


How to Care for a Succulent Terrarium

Keep your succulent in a brightly lit area, away from drafts or vents. Rotate it often to ensure even sunlight distribution.

Water your terrarium when the soil is dry, watching for signs of excess moisture. There shouldn’t be condensation on the inside of your terrarium. If there is, set up a light fan to help dry it out.

Remove dead and dying leaves quickly to prevent rot. Remove the affected plants immediately if you notice signs of rot or pests.

Terrariums don’t usually need fertilization due to the biodiversity within the mini-ecosystem. However, you can use succulent-friendly plant spikes if you think your plants need a pick-me-up.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Konstantins Pobilojs/

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About the Author

Nikita Ross is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering plants, gardening, and yard care. Nikita has been writing for over seven years and holds a Marketing diploma from NSCC, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Canada, Nikita enjoys reading in her library, epic beach naps, and waiting for her Coffea arabica plant to produce coffee beans (no luck yet).

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