How to Make and Care for a Succulent Terrarium

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Potted plants and flowers can instantly transform a dull room into something exciting and alive. But let's face it, not all of us have the greenest thumbs. Succulent terrariums are perfect for those of us who tend to forget about watering plants or those of us without time to tend to a garden. Drought tolerant, vibrantly colored, and slow growing -- this fool proof terrarium recipe is perfect for anyone looking to add a little more green to their home.

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Step 1: Choose an Open Vessel

Succulents are full of water, and naturally grow in dry climates. Plant them in a vase or terrarium with an opening at the top for moisture to escape after watering.

Pictured above in this open terrarium is a Kokedama, or moss and string wrapped, succulent. Kokedama means "moss ball" and many succulents can be wrapped and fashioned into this stylish base. They are easy and mess free to place inside your vessel, and also easily replaceable without disrupting the design of your terrarium. Watering is also a breeze; simply place water in the sand or pebbles at the bottom, and the moss ball will wick up moisture as needed. This miniature Haworthia succulent Kokedama pictured above lives happily in its open terrarium home.

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How to Choose Potting Materials and Decorations

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When planting succulents in a terrarium it is very important to use special soil meant for succulents or cacti. Small bags of succulent potting soil are available at most garden centers. Place your soil on top of a layer of fine sand or drainage rock at the bottom of the terrarium to avoid overwatering.

In a typical terrarium sand, pebbles, river rocks, and preserved reindeer moss are used to decorate. Crystals, shells, or other non-degradable keepsakes can be added, however they should be properly cleaned before placing them inside the terrarium.

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How to Choose the Right Succulents

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Choose healthy looking, chubby succulents with no visible nicks or bruising. Since the terrarium will be sunlit, and will likely become warm, so select succulents that have fatter leaves (these are filled with water) for a sturdier, longer lasting plant. Try to choose plants that have densely packed leaves and avoid purchasing "leggy" plants that appear long, or stretched.

Succulents for Direct Light

Some examples suitable for bright light are Echeveria, Aloe Vera, and Sedum. This purple Echeveria pictured above is a great choice, the leaves almost look like a flower! A perfect focal point for any terrarium.

Succulents for Indirect Light

Select darker coloured succulents, most of the time they fare better without direct sunlight. Traditional Jade plants and Zebra Haworthia are top choices.

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How to Water Your Terrarium

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Only water your terrarium with a small amount of water every couple of weeks. Do not overwhelm the plant by soaking it with water, as the plant will become too wet and die. Give a small to medium sized terrarium a few ounces of water at a time, allowing it to dry completely in between waterings. Succulents have a reserve of water in their leaves, and will draw from that water if necessary to survive. This will not hurt the plant, it will display signs if it needs more hydration. If the plant becomes wilted or wrinkled, it is a sign to increase the frequency of watering.

Photography by Kerry Lawrence of

Kerry Lawrence Photography




Styling and plants by the instructors and students of

The Vancouver Flower School




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