Simple succulent Terrariums

By Jennie Lennick

California is a stunningly beautiful state. 

One of my favorite parts of living here is how abundantly plants grow. When my midwestern family visits, I am always pointing at giant agaves or enormous jades, exclaiming, “Would you look at that succulent!?” There is nothing quite like the vegetation here on the coast. 

If you live in a place where succulents can’t grow outside, you can easily create a terrarium to live in your home. Terrariums are decorative glass containers for plants that don't have a drainage hole. They are beautiful and often contain succulents, mosses, plants, and even figurines.  

Terrariums are very easy and fun to build! Soon, every sunny windowsill in your home will have a resident plant. Succulent terrariums work exceptionally well because they don’t need a lot of water. Just a spritz every week or two will do. 


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Step 1: Create a Soil Parfait

Since terrariums don’t have a drainage hole, you need to create a layered soil base to make a habitable environment for your succulents.

LAYER 1: ROCKS

Stones make up the first layer of your terrarium and act as drainage for your plant. Add about an inch of rocks to the bottom of your glass vessel.

LAYER 2: CHARCOAL

Next, sprinkle a thin layer of activated charcoal over your stones.  Activated charcoal is not the same as the briquettes for a barbecue grill! Instead, its purpose is to filter out impurities. Charcoal is toxic to the plant, so don’t overdo it! 

LAYER 3: SOIL

We protect the roots with our next layer, soil.



Add at least two inches of soil. You can add more if you have a large terrarium jar.   


Pack down your soil with your hands or the back of a spoon. Make sure it’s packed tightly! Succulents like hard soil.


Step 2: Add Your Succulents

A succulent is a type of plant that is particularly resistant to drought. It has thick waxy leaves to store moisture. It prefers bright sunlight and an occasional mist of water. The California climate is particularly well suited to this type of plant, hence why they are everywhere here!

Succulents come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Some resemble rocks, others have long skinny leaves, while others’ leaves look like jelly beans. 

SUCCULENT HEADS 

All succulents have at least one head. A head is a clearly recognizable section of the plant. 

This succulent has tons of flower-shaped heads


One of the most extraordinary things about succulents is that they can grow without roots, giving you a lot of flexibility in designing your terrariums.

We’re going to use cuttings to assemble our terrariums. Begin by locating one of your succulent’s heads, and cut it off with scissors or garden shears. Make sure to leave a little stem.


With a pencil, chopstick, or another similarly shaped item, make a hole in your soil by pressing straight down. You want the hole size to match the size of your succulent stump.


Gently insert the stump into the soil and pat it down. You may need to use a tool, like a bent spoon, to help pat.


Add as many succulents as you like without overcrowding. You want to make sure each plant has enough room to get adequate sun and soil. 

Optional: Add decorative mosses and figurines to create a cute little world!

Step 3: Care for Your Terrarium

Spray water all over your assembled terrarium with a spray bottle. Make sure to mist each plant as well as the soil. Your succulents will grow roots in a few weeks- for now, make sure not to jostle them around too much!

Keep your terrarium in a sunny spot and water it every other week with your spray bottle. 

After I learned how to make terrariums, everyone in my family received one for the holidays. It’s such a beautiful gift! I hope you all discover your green thumbs! 

 Are you done with your terrarium? Then, make a macrame plant hanger for it by following our tutorial here

 Do you enjoy making terrariums? Leave your succulent-related tips and tricks in the comments below!

JENNIE LENNICK 

Designer, entrepreneur, and lover of crafts! Boss Lady at Jenny Lemons in San Francisco



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