The Suitability of Succulents for Closed Terrariums Revealed

Succulents turn into real eye-catchers in terrariums. You can find out how to stage the plants in style and how to maintain them properly here.

are succulents good for closed terrariums
Succulents become real eye-catchers in a terrarium [Photo: Dzina Belskaya/]

Succulents are among the most popular houseplants. No wonder – after all, the robust plants have an integrated water reservoir and are therefore wonderfully easy to care for. Since succulents are now so common as houseplants, it can happen that they do not get their deserved place in the spotlight, but rather become a beautiful ornament in the background.

If you want to show your plants more, you can resort to a very simple trick: Planted in a terrarium, succulents look modern and exciting, so that they quickly become a secret eye-catcher in the apartment. You can find out how to plant succulents in terrariums yourself and what you need to consider when caring for them in this article.

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Which succulents can be planted in a terrarium?

If you want to plant succulents in a terrarium, the question quickly arises as to which plants are suitable for this purpose. In general, almost all succulents are suitable for planting in a terrarium. However, one should consider the space conditions – since the vessel in which the plants are supposed to grow is usually not excessively large, it is worth resorting to small succulent species.

Mini succulents in terrarium also have the advantage that you can combine several of them together, creating a small succulent garden. Particularly popular mini succulents for terrariums are Echeveria, Jade Plants and Sedum pachyphyllum.

are succulents good for closed terrariums
Mini succulents are particularly suitable for planting in terrariums [Photo: Alice Rodnova/]

Are succulents good for closed terrariums?

Here, too, the following applies: Succulents can be planted in almost any vessel that you like. Succulents can be planted in the mason jar just as well as in a planting bowl or a hanging glass ball. There is only one condition: the glass should have an opening. Succulents in the closed glass die quickly, as they cannot tolerate the high humidity inside.

Instead of a bottle garden, succulents are therefore better suited to open containers with a top opening, such as semicircular glass bowls. Succulents in the square terrarium are also a beautiful eye-catcher. However, it also applies here that this must be open upwards or at least have an opening for evaporation, so that the succulents can thrive in it.

What soil do succulents need in terrariums?

The right soil is a decisive factor when it comes to growing succulents in a terrarium – only through the right substrate do the plants stay healthy for a long time and develop their robust species. Succulents place special demands on their soil: this should be loose, so that the plant can root it well and good water and air permeability is guaranteed.

In addition, the soil should be able to absorb water again after complete drying, and should be adapted to the nutrient requirements of the succulents. These conditions are optimally met by special cactus or succulent soil, which can be purchased from specialist retailers. For example, the Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil Gritty Mix #111 has proved its worth.

Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil Gritty Mix #111

bonsai jack succulent and cactus soil gritty mix #111
9.7/10 Our Score
  • Fast-draining and nurturing
  • Optimized for pH of 5.5, ideal for acid-loving plants
  • Pathogen free with extended pathogen control
  • Contains Bonsai Block, Monto Clay, and Pine Coir (pine fines) is a soil mix optimized for plants that require dryer feet between watering
  • All Bonsai Jack soil products are lab-tested and manufactured to spec versus other brands that use ingredients derived from reclaimed organic matter containing pathogens such as nematodes and insects that can damage or kill plants

But not all succulents need soil – in fact, you can keep some succulents in the glass without soil. The Tillandsia, for example, do not need any substrate as a sit-on plant (epiphytes) and are therefore also referred to as air plants. Placed in hanging glass balls or small bowls, the succulents in the glass give a fascinating picture even without soil. However, they must be regularly sprayed with water, as they can only meet their liquid needs in this way.

Expert tip: Also most orchids (Orchidaceae) belong to the epiphytes – however, they do not need a substrate, but specially adapted orchid soil.

Planting Succulents in a Terrarium: Instructions

If you want to show your plants perfectly, you should think about planting succulents in a terrarium. What sounds complicated at first is not really a great effort. In fact, all you need is the plants as well as a vessel, expanded clay, succulent soil and, if necessary, decoration. For succulents with thorns or cacti, you should also use thorn-resistant gloves for safety reasons.

First, a layer of expanded clay, which should make up about a quarter of the soil layer, is placed in the glass bowl. This later serves as a drainage layer to avoid waterlogging. A layer of succulent or cactus soil is now added to these. Now you can carefully free the plants from their old pots and gently release the loose soil at the roots.

The succulents can now be placed in their new place – with several plants it is recommended to place the plants loosely next to each other in order to find the right arrangement. If the succulents are placed in the glass, gaps are closed with the succulent soil. This is easily pressed with the finger. If you want, you can also place decorative elements in the glass in addition to the succulents. Natural materials such as beautiful pebbles or quartz sand are particularly suitable.

Here again, are all the steps for the succulents in the glass in the overview:

  1. Fill a quarter of the soil layer with expanded clay
  2. Distribute cactus soil to it
  3. Carefully remove succulents from their pot and gently free them from the earth
  4. Arrange plants and fill gaps with cactus soil
  5. Gently press the soil with your fingers
  6. If necessary, decorate
are succulents good for closed terrariums
Arrange the plants before inserting them [Photo: ivan_kislitsin/]

How to Take Care of a Succulent Terrarium

Even if the succulents find a great new place in the terrarium, every move means stress for them as well. For this reason, the succulents should not be watered directly after repotting – only after one week should the first watering be given, so as not to put an additional strain on the stressed roots of the plants. If the plants have recovered well, the normal care of the succulents actually only accumulates.

However, you should note that succulents in terrariums should not be placed directly in the sun – especially with higher, round glasses, there may otherwise be a magnifying glass effect that causes severe burns to the plants. Instead, the succulents should be housed in the glass in a bright, sunny location. An area near a fan or blower is ideal as it will increase circulation and prevent attenuation.

Succulents can’t stand being flooded and if they’re in stagnant water they will surely die. Your lush garden doesn’t need to be watered often. Wait until the soil is almost completely dry before watering. Use tap water that has been gasified or buy purified water.

Succulent terrarium care is much like caring for succulents in a pot. These plants thrive if neglected and do not need additional fertilizer, but once a year. Over time, the succulents should fill up a little and the whole terrarium gets a naturally appealing look.


Do you have to use charcoal in a terrarium?

When adding soil to the terrarium, you can also add a 1cm layer of activated charcoal. While not compulsory, this type of charcoal will help clean and purify the water that goes down to avoid odors and prevent mold. Therefore it is a good addition to your glass garden.

Where to buy activated charcoal for terrariums?

Activated charcoal can be found in pet stores as it is also used for aquariums. You can also find it on Amazon here.

Substitute for activated charcoal in terrarium

If you do not have activated charcoal, you will need to add an extra inch of gravel at the bottom of your terrarium. You can add a layer of sphagnum moss on top of the gravel to keep the soil from mixing into the gravel.

Further reading: Check out How to Plant in Pots without Drainge Holes?

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