How to…make a succulent terrarium

Making a terrarium is the perfect project for the time-poor gardeners and serial plant killers among us. After the initial time spent making it, there is little maintenance required. What I love about terrariums is that you can recreate natural landscapes on a miniature scale, which are beautiful additions to living spaces.

I chose to make a terrarium with succulents and cacti, recreating a desert landscape. For this project I used an open container, which would also be suitable for carnivorous plants or air plants. Tropical plants, on the other hand, are best suited to closed terrariums. You can use this as a guide, maintaining the structure of the layers but choosing your own plants and decorations.

What you’ll need

         A glass container of your choice

         Five succulents or cacti of your choice (take note of their size and that of your container,                                                                                                    making sure you don’t over crowd your plants)

         4 cups cacti and succulent mix or potting mix

         ½ cup horticultural charcoal

         3 cups small black pebbles

         Large rocks, river pebbles or figurines (optional)



  1. Wash your selected container inside and out, drying it completely before you begin making your terrarium. Fishbowls make great containers, as do jars. Keep in mind that the narrower the opening, the more challenging it will be to assemble.
  1. Layer the base of your container with black pebbles, gently shaking the container to even them out. Sprinkle charcoal over the pebbles. The pebbles create an aeration and drainage layer, while the charcoal keeps your terrarium fresh and odour-free.
  1. Add three cups of the potting mix. At this stage you can create the terrain, depending on your landscape you may choose to make it higher at the back or at one side.
  1. Wearing gloves, remove the plants from their containers and place them carefully into your terrarium. As you do this, brush off the excess soil, planting only the root balls.
  1. Arrange your plants as you desire, placing your tallest plants at the centre or the back. Cover the roots with the remaining succulent mix, pressing down gently around each plant.
  1. Add in large rocks or figurines between the plants as you like. You can get creative here, adding in animal figurines and hiding them amongst your plants. When looking for figurines, those made of hard plastics or glass are best.
  1. Scatter the river pebbles, making the final layer. If re-creating a garden scene, pebbles can be arranged effectively to resemble a path. There are lots of different coloured pebbles and glass rocks available at gardening stores. Use a dry paintbrush to gently brush off any excess dirt from your plants.
  1. Give your terrarium a good drink of water, using a spray bottle. Water again when the soils is dry to touch. Depending on the weather you may need to water weekly or monthly. Most terrariums can be kept indoors in a partially sunlit spot.

There are heaps of great books around on terrariums and lots of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. I hope you have as much fun making your terrarium as I did!

Daisy Baker

Daisy is studying a Bachelor or Arts and is majoring in Journalism, Media and Communications, and English. She loves all things arts and culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *