Succulents in Terrariums: Everything You Should Know

Succulent gardens in glass vases on wooden floor.
© Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Written by Larissa Smith

Updated: March 12, 2023

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Succulents are hardy plants that can thrive in dry conditions, which makes them perfect for terrariums. You can find all kinds of succulents at your local nursery or garden center. The best thing about succulent terrariums is that you can design them however you want! You can make them look like anything from a desert landscape to a tropical rainforest.

Succulents look beautiful in any setting but are especially striking when you place them in a glass vessel like a terrarium. Creating one is as easy as filling a jar with soil and adding some plants. Succulents have shallow roots, so they don’t require much space to grow. And because they’re drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, succulent terrariums are ideal for anyone new to gardening (or who doesn’t have much time).

Learn more about succulents in terrariums below!

Succulent terrarium planted in a pine tree bark.

Choose from various containers for your succulent terrariums, such as a piece of bark (pictured), soup bowl, or glass orb.

©Anastasiia_Atamanchuk/Shutterstock.com

Succulent Terrarium Containers

The best part about succulent terrariums is how customizable they are. Any type of container with drainage holes in it, such as a jar or bowl, will work just fine. Then, choose any combination of succulents that you like best. The possibilities are endless! And once you’ve chosen your succulents, all you need is some soil and rocks or pebbles for drainage, and your creation is complete.

But how do you choose the container that’s right for you? Here are some tips on choosing the right container.

  • Size of the container: While there isn’t a container too big for a succulent terrarium, there is too small. If you want a variety of fun succulents and to decorate with pebbles and rocks, a larger container is the way to go.
  • Shape of the container: Choosing the shape is where you can let your creativity shine. You can choose the container according to your design aesthetic, whether you want a cylindrical shape, a wooden box, or a piece of bark.
  • Material of the container: Choose from glass, wood, metal, ceramic, and more for your succulent container.

You can’t go wrong with open succulent containers. However, ensure the opening is big enough to allow airflow around your plant.

Pencil Cactus Birds Eye View Close Up.

The pencil cactus (pictured) is a slow-growing, low-maintenance plant that will thrive in a terrarium.

©Speakman/Shutterstock.com

Best Succulents for Terrariums

The best succulents for terrariums are those that thrive in their own mini-ecosystem. That means you must do some research first and know the different types of succulents and how they grow. Let’s take a look at some succulent varieties that’ll thrive in a terrarium.

  • Haworthia fasciata: This small succulent doesn’t usually grow more than 4 inches long. Its triangular-shaped leaves and white crested stripes will add color and variety to your terrarium.
  • Leatherpetal: This easy-to-care-for succulent grows in a beautiful rosette shape and leathery texture.
  • Moon cactus: Here is how you can get creative and make your terrarium pop with color! Two cacti join together to form the moon cactus. The colorful top is the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii. The lower cactus is normally a Hylocereus, but the species can vary. 
  • Pencil cactus: If you’re looking to add variety to your terrarium, pencil cactus is the way to go. It has unique pencil-like branches with small oval-shaped leaves.
  • Panda plant: This adorable succulent has brown-red spots and fuzzy hair. They are an excellent addition to terrariums and won’t take up much space.

Once you’ve decided on the type of succulent you want to grow, choose which color scheme will look best. Green or brown? Warm or cool? You may also consider adding other elements like moss or decorative stones. When shopping for your materials, try to find naturally sourced ones, so there won’t be any chemicals in them when they arrive at your home.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium

This point can’t be stressed enough: succulents do not like to sit in water! Succulents want their soil to dry before you water it again. If the roots are too wet for extended periods, it can cause root rot, and the plant won’t last long.

So, how do you make a succulent terrarium?

  1. Start by cleaning the terrarium thoroughly and letting it air-dry.
  2. Add a layer of rock or gravel at the bottom of the terrarium.
  3. Put a 1-inch layer of charcoal on the rocks. This will absorb any toxins or odors that sitting water might cause.
  4. Add a layer of potting soil. Cactus mix from most garden centers is a great option.
  5. This might be the best step! Arrange your succulents in the design and style you want. Just be sure to keep them 1 inch apart.
  6. Decorate the terrarium with hardscapes, such as figurines, rocks, shells, or branches.
Succulent plants in a big broken ceramic pot.

Add decorative stones (pictured) to your succulent terrarium and let your creativity shine.

©puha dorin/Shutterstock.com

How to Care for Your Succulents

Succulents enjoy about 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. You could place the terrarium on a windowsill if there is space. Research each succulent in the terrarium and ensure you are giving it enough sunlight.

Before watering, give enough time for the soil to dry before you water it again. Generally, you will want to water succulents every other week and once a month in the winter. Avoid getting the leaves too wet because the leaves can rot before the roots have had time to develop.

Final Thoughts

Succulents are perfect if you’re looking for a unique way to add a little green to your home decor. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, so they can get used to creating a beautiful display in just about any space.

What’s more? Succulents are easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to grow their own plants but may not have the time, space, or even know-how needed for larger houseplants.

If you’re looking for a way to bring the beauty and tranquility of your garden into your home, consider a terrarium. You can make one with just a few simple supplies and some creativity, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of growing succulents all year long.


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About the Author

Larissa Smith is a writer for A-Z Animals with years of experience in plant care and wildlife. After years spent in the South African bush while studying Nature Conservation, she found her way to writing about animals and plants in her work. She hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for the precious world around them. Larissa lives in Florida with her two sons, a miniature golden retriever named Pupples, and a colorful succulent garden. In her spare time, she is tending to her garden, adventuring with her kids, and hosting “Real Housewives” watch parties with her friends.

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