How To Plant Succulents In Terrarium [ Full Guide ]

Succulents are popular plants that are loved for their unique and exotic appearance, as well as their low maintenance requirements. They can thrive in a variety of environments, making them ideal candidates for terrariums. Terrariums provide a controlled environment for succulents, allowing them to thrive in optimal conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the important aspects of planting succulents in a terrarium, from understanding their needs to selecting the right terrarium and soil mix, and finally, the essential tools and materials required for successful planting.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Succulents In Terrarium

To quickly summarize the process:

  1. Select a suitable terrarium
  2. Gather essential materials: suitable soil mix, small stones or pebbles, activated charcoal, and your chosen succulents
  3. Prepare the terrarium: add a layer of small stones, followed by a thin layer of activated charcoal
  4. Add the soil mix, leaving enough space for the succulents
  5. Plant the succulents, ensuring they have enough space and are slightly elevated
  6. Water the succulents sparingly
  7. Place the terrarium in a well-lit spot, but away from direct sunlight
  8. Monitor the succulents and make adjustments as needed

Understanding Succulents And Their Terrarium Needs

Succulents are plants that have adapted to survive in arid environments by storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They come in various shapes, colors, and sizes, and are known for their ability to thrive in dry conditions. When it comes to planting succulents in a terrarium, it’s essential to understand their specific needs to ensure their successful growth.

Light Requirements

Succulents generally require ample sunlight to thrive. When planting them in a terrarium, it’s crucial to consider their light requirements. While they need sunlight, direct exposure to intense sunlight for prolonged periods can result in sunburn or dehydration. Therefore, it’s important to place the terrarium in a well-lit area with indirect sunlight, such as near a window or under a grow light.

Watering Needs

One of the most common mistakes when caring for succulents, especially in a terrarium, is overwatering. Succulents are adapted to survive in drought-like conditions and are prone to root rot if they are consistently overwatered. When planting succulents in a terrarium, it’s important to use well-draining soil and a container with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the roots.

Air Circulation

While succulents can thrive in dry environments, they still require good air circulation to prevent issues such as mold and rot. When selecting a terrarium for your succulents, opt for one that allows for adequate airflow. Open or partially open terrariums are ideal for promoting air circulation, which is essential for the overall health of the succulents.


Succulents are adaptable to a range of temperatures, but they generally prefer warmer conditions. When planting succulents in a terrarium, it’s important to keep them in an area with consistent temperatures, avoiding extreme fluctuations that can stress the plants.

Selecting The Right Terrarium For Your Succulents

The selection of the terrarium plays a crucial role in the successful growth of succulents. Terrariums come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and the right choice can contribute significantly to the well-being of your succulents.

Open Vs. Closed Terrariums

When it comes to planting succulents, the choice between an open or closed terrarium is a critical consideration. Open terrariums allow for better air circulation, making them suitable for succulents that are prone to rot in moist environments. Closed terrariums, on the other hand, create a more humid environment, making them less suitable for most succulents, especially if they are not well adapted to high humidity.

Container Size

The size of the terrarium should be proportional to the size of the succulents and their root systems. A spacious terrarium allows the succulents to grow, prevents overcrowding, and provides ample room for their root development. It’s important to avoid overcrowding, as it can lead to poor air circulation and increased competition for resources among the plants.


Terrariums are commonly made of glass or clear acrylic, providing visibility and an aesthetically pleasing display of the succulents. The transparent nature of the terrarium allows for easy observation of the plants and their growth. When selecting a material, consider the weight, durability, and design that best suits your preferences and the environment where the terrarium will be placed.

Essential Tools And Materials For Planting Succulents In A Terrarium

In order to plant succulents in a terrarium, it is essential to have the right tools and materials on hand. These items will ensure that the process is smooth and that the succulents are provided with an optimal environment for growth.

Essential Tools

  1. Long-handled tweezers or chopsticks: These tools are useful for planting the succulents in the terrarium, especially when dealing with narrow openings or a deep container.
  2. Small shovel or spoon: A small shovel or spoon is necessary for adding and spreading the soil, as well as creating indentations for the succulents to be placed in.
  3. Spray bottle: A spray bottle can be used to water the succulents gently, allowing for careful and precise moisture control.
  4. Gardening gloves: While optional, gloves can protect your hands and make the planting process more comfortable, especially if dealing with prickly or spiky succulents.


  1. Terrarium container: Select a suitable terrarium based on the considerations mentioned earlier, such as size, material, and type (open or closed).
  2. Succulents: Choose a variety of succulents that are similar in their light, water, and temperature requirements, but different in appearance to create an eye-catching display.
  3. Soil mix: Use a well-draining, sandy soil mix specifically formulated for succulents and cacti. Alternatively, you can create a custom soil mix by combining potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite in equal parts.
  4. Small stones or pebbles: These are used for drainage at the bottom of the terrarium to prevent waterlogging and root rot.
  5. Activated charcoal: Adding a thin layer of activated charcoal on top of the stones helps to absorb excess moisture and prevent odors within the terrarium.

Choosing The Right Soil Mix For Your Succulents

The soil mix for succulents plays a crucial role in their overall health and growth. Choosing the right type of soil mix ensures that the succulents receive proper drainage, aeration, and nutrients to thrive in a terrarium environment.

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Commercial Soil Mixes

Many garden centers and nurseries offer pre-mixed soil specifically formulated for succulents and cacti. These commercial mixes are designed to provide excellent drainage and aeration, essential for the root health of succulents. When selecting a commercial soil mix, opt for one that is labeled as suitable for succulents or cacti, ensuring it does not retain excess moisture.

DIY Soil Mix

For those who prefer to create their own soil mix, a combination of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite is a popular choice. This DIY mix provides good drainage and aeration while offering a balance of nutrients for the succulents. To create this mix, combine equal parts of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite, ensuring a homogeneous blend before use.

Soil Amendments

In addition to the base soil mix, amendments such as pumice, coconut coir, or vermiculite can be added to further improve drainage and aeration. These amendments can be particularly beneficial for succulents that are sensitive to excess moisture or in environments with high humidity, such as closed terrariums.

Succulents are fascinating plants with unique characteristics and requirements, making them excellent candidates for terrariums. By understanding their light, water, and soil needs, selecting a suitable terrarium, and gathering the necessary tools and materials, you can create an ideal environment for your succulents to thrive. Whether you opt for an open or closed terrarium, ensuring proper air circulation, well-draining soil, and strategic placement will contribute to the long-term health and beauty of your succulent terrarium. With the right knowledge and preparation, planting succulents in a terrarium can be a rewarding and visually stunning experience.

Preparing Your Terrarium For Planting

Succulents are popular plants known for their unique appearance and ability to store water in their leaves. These plants have gained popularity not only for their aesthetic appeal, but also because they are relatively easy to care for. Creating a terrarium for succulents allows you to showcase these beautiful plants in a controlled environment.

Before you begin planting your succulents, it is important to properly prepare your terrarium. Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Choose the right terrarium – Terrariums can come in various sizes and shapes, such as closed or open containers. It is important to choose a terrarium that suits the specific needs of succulents. Closed terrariums are better for plants that require higher humidity, while open terrariums provide better ventilation.

  2. Select the appropriate container – The container you choose should have adequate drainage holes to prevent excess water from accumulating at the bottom. If your container does not have drainage holes, you can create a drainage layer using small rocks or pebbles.

  3. Choose the right soil – Succulents require well-draining soil to prevent root rot. You can create a suitable soil mix by combining equal parts potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite. This mixture provides good aeration and drainage.

  4. Gather the necessary tools – You will need a few tools to help you with the planting process. These include a trowel, gardening gloves, and a clean cloth or paper towel.

How To Properly Repot Succulents Into A Terrarium

Once you have prepared your terrarium, it’s time to repot your succulents. Follow these steps for successful repotting:

  1. Gently remove the succulent from its original pot – Carefully turn the pot upside down while holding the base of the succulent. Tap the bottom of the pot to loosen the soil, and slide the plant out. If the plant doesn’t come out easily, you can use a trowel to loosen the edges of the soil.

  2. Inspect the roots – Take a close look at the roots of the succulent. If you notice any dead or damaged roots, trim them using clean and sharp scissors. Removing unhealthy roots will help encourage new growth.

  3. Prepare the new pot – Fill the terrarium container with the prepared soil mix, leaving enough space for the succulent to fit comfortably. Gently tap the container to settle the soil.

  4. Place the succulent into the terrarium – Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or trowel, deep enough to accommodate the roots of the succulent. Insert the plant into the hole and press the soil firmly around it. Ensure that the plant stands upright and is stable.

  5. Add finishing touches – If desired, you can add decorative elements such as small rocks, pebbles, or moss on top of the soil to enhance the visual appeal of your terrarium.

Arranging And Designing Your Succulent Terrarium

Now that you have repotted your succulents into the terrarium, it’s time to arrange and design the space. Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Consider the growth habits – Take into account the growth habits and sizes of your succulents when arranging them in the terrarium. Place taller plants towards the back and shorter ones towards the front for an aesthetically pleasing look.

  2. Experiment with different textures and colors – Succulents come in a wide range of textures and colors. Mix and match succulents with contrasting shapes, textures, and hues to create a visually appealing arrangement. This will add depth and interest to your terrarium.

  3. Create focal points – Select one or two centerpiece succulents as focal points for your terrarium. These larger or visually striking plants will draw attention and add a focal point of interest.

  4. Consider the overall balance – Think about the overall balance and composition of the succulents in your terrarium. Avoid overcrowding and give each plant enough space to grow and thrive.

Maintaining The Health Of Your Succulents In A Terrarium

Proper maintenance is crucial for the health and longevity of your succulents in a terrarium. Here are some tips to help you keep your plants thriving:

  1. Provide adequate lighting – Succulents require bright indirect light to thrive. Place your terrarium in a location that receives bright, filtered sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the plants to burn.

  2. Monitor temperature and humidity – Succulents prefer warm temperatures between 60°F (15°C) and 80°F (27°C). They can tolerate low humidity, but a moderate level of humidity is ideal. Place your terrarium away from drafts or extreme temperature changes.

  3. Rotate your terrarium regularly – Rotate your terrarium every few weeks to ensure all sides of your succulents receive equal amounts of light. This will prevent your plants from leaning towards the light source and promote even growth.

  4. Keep an eye out for pests – Check your succulents regularly for signs of pests, such as mealybugs or spider mites. If you notice any infestation, take immediate action to mitigate the problem using organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

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Proper Watering Techniques For Succulents In A Terrarium

One of the most important aspects of succulent care is proper watering. Follow these guidelines to ensure you water your succulents correctly:

  1. Water sparingly – Succulents are adapted to arid environments and do not require frequent watering. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems.

  2. Check the soil moisture level – Before watering, use your finger to check the moisture level of the soil. Insert your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels damp, hold off on watering until the soil dries out.

  3. Water at the base, not on the leaves – When watering your succulents, pour water directly onto the soil at the base of the plant. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to rot or fungal issues.

  4. Use a watering can or spray bottle – To avoid overwatering, use a watering can with a narrow spout or a spray bottle to control the flow of water. This will help you target the soil without saturating it.

  5. Adjust watering frequency according to the season – Succulents may require less frequent watering during winter when their growth slows down. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to prevent overwatering during this period.

Creating a terrarium for your succulents is a wonderful way to display these unique plants while providing them with a controlled environment to thrive. By properly preparing your terrarium, repotting your succulents, arranging them thoughtfully, and maintaining their health through proper lighting, temperature, and watering techniques, you can enjoy a flourishing succulent terrarium for years to come. With a little care and attention, your succulents will add beauty and greenery to any space.

Sunlight And Temperature Requirements For Succulent Terrariums

Terrariums are a popular way to display and grow succulents. A terrarium provides a controlled environment for these desert plants, allowing them to thrive indoors. Not only do succulents add a touch of natural beauty to any space, but they also require minimal maintenance and care.

Succulents thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Terrariums should be placed in an area that receives at least four to six hours of indirect light per day. Direct sunlight can cause the temperature inside the terrarium to increase rapidly and may lead to heat damage or scorching of the plants. If you notice signs of etiolation, such as elongated and pale foliage, it indicates that your succulents are not receiving enough light. In such cases, consider moving the terrarium to a brighter location or use artificial grow lights to supplement the light requirements.

Temperature also plays a crucial role in the health of succulents. Most succulents prefer temperatures between 60°F (15°C) to 80°F (27°C). However, they can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C) and as high as 90°F (32°C) for short periods. Avoid placing terrariums near drafty windows or areas with extreme temperature fluctuations. It’s important to note that some succulent varieties may have specific temperature preferences, so it’s always best to research the specific needs of the succulents you are planning to grow in your terrarium.

Dealing With Pests And Diseases In Your Succulent Terrarium

Despite their hardy nature, succulents can still fall victim to pests and diseases. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to deal with them:

1. Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, cottony insects that can infest succulents, including those in terrariums. To treat a mealybug infestation, wipe the affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For severe infestations, consider using horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. It’s essential to isolate the infested plant from others to prevent the pests from spreading.

2. Fungus Gnats: Fungus gnats are tiny flies that are attracted to damp soil. Overwatering or excessive moisture in the terrarium can lead to a fungus gnat infestation. To control fungus gnats, allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. You can also use sticky traps or mosquito bits drenched in water to control the population.

3. Root Rot: Overwatering is the main cause of root rot in succulents. To avoid this issue, make sure the terrarium has good drainage. Use a well-draining soil mix and water only when the soil is dry to the touch. If you suspect root rot, remove the affected succulent from the terrarium, trim away any rotting roots, and replant it in fresh soil. Allow the plant to dry for a couple of days before watering again.

4. Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves. It thrives in humid conditions, so proper air circulation is crucial. Increase ventilation by slightly opening the terrarium lid or placing a small fan nearby. If necessary, apply a fungicide specifically formulated for powdery mildew.

5. Pest Prevention: Preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of pest and disease issues. Quarantine new plants for a few weeks before introducing them to your terrarium to ensure they are pest-free. Regularly inspect and clean the terrarium, removing any fallen leaves or debris that can harbor pests. Additionally, avoid overwatering and maintain proper humidity levels to reduce the chances of fungal diseases.

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When And How To Fertilize Your Succulents In A Terrarium

Succulents in terrariums have different fertilization requirements compared to those grown in outdoor gardens. Over-fertilizing can lead to rapid growth, weak stems, and a higher risk of pests and diseases. Here are some guidelines for fertilizing your succulents in a terrarium:

1. Timing: Fertilize your succulents during their active growing season, which is typically spring and summer. Succulents enter a dormant phase in fall and winter, so avoid fertilizing during this time. The dormant phase allows the plants to rest and prepare for new growth.

2. Fertilizer Type: For succulents in terrariums, it’s best to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer specifically formulated for succulents or cacti, as it will have the appropriate nutrient ratios. Dilute the fertilizer to half or even a quarter of the recommended strength to avoid overfeeding.

3. Application Method: Apply the diluted fertilizer directly to the soil, avoiding contact with the leaves. Terrariums have limited space, so liquid fertilizers prevent the risk of over-application or fertilizer burn. Be careful not to pour excess fertilizer into the terrarium, as it can build up and lead to salt toxicity.

4. Frequency: Fertilize your succulents in a terrarium roughly once every two to three months during the growing season. Remember to adjust the frequency based on the strength of the fertilizer and the specific needs of your succulent varieties. Always follow the instructions provided by the fertilizer manufacturer.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Succulent Terrariums

Even with proper care, succulent terrariums can face challenges. Here are some troubleshooting tips for common issues:

1. Overwatering: Overwatering is one of the most common problems encountered in succulent terrariums. The excess moisture can lead to root rot and cause the plants to become leggy or weak. Ensure that the terrarium has adequate drainage and allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. Stick your finger about an inch into the soil to check for moisture before deciding to water.

2. Underwatering: Underwatering can also harm succulents. If you notice shriveled or wilting leaves, it might be a sign of dehydration. Water the terrarium thoroughly, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist. Monitor the moisture level regularly and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

3. Poor Drainage: Insufficient drainage can lead to root rot and other water-related issues. Ensure that the terrarium has drainage holes or a layer of gravel at the bottom to allow excess water to escape. Use a well-draining soil mix that promotes airflow and prevents waterlogging.

4. Leggy Growth: Leggy growth occurs when succulents stretch out in search of more light. If you notice elongated stems and sparse foliage, it’s a sign that your succulents are not receiving sufficient light. Move the terrarium to a brighter location, or provide supplemental grow lights to rectify this issue.

5. Yellowing Leaves: Yellowing leaves can be a result of overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, or pests. Review your watering practices and ensure that you are not overwatering. Check the nutrient levels in the soil and consider fertilizing your succulents with a balanced fertilizer. If you suspect pests, inspect the plant closely for signs of infestation.

6. Mold or Fungal Growth: Mold or fungal growth can arise due to high humidity levels or inadequate air circulation. Increase ventilation by opening the terrarium lid slightly or placing a small fan nearby. Remove any affected leaves or clean the terrarium to eliminate the source of the problem.


Planting succulents in a terrarium allows you to create a visually appealing indoor garden with minimal effort. By understanding and providing the right conditions for your succulents, including appropriate sunlight and temperature, you can ensure their healthy and vibrant growth. It’s essential to monitor for pests and diseases, as well as to fertilize and water your succulents correctly. By troubleshooting common issues and addressing them promptly, you can enjoy a beautiful and thriving succulent terrarium for years to come.


What Kind Of Soil Should I Use To Plant Succulents In A Terrarium?

It’s important to use a well-draining soil mixture for succulents to avoid water buildup in the terrarium. A good mixture can be made with one part potting soil, one part perlite, one part coarse sand, and a small amount of charcoal.

Can I Use Any Type Of Terrarium For Succulents?

Not all terrariums are suitable for succulents as they need to have adequate drainage. Look for terrariums with drainage holes or use open-top ones to ensure proper air circulation.

How Often Should I Water My Succulent Terrarium?

Generally, succulents need to be watered less frequently than other plants and prefer drier conditions. Water only when the soil is completely dry, usually every 2-3 weeks, and avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.

Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight In A Terrarium?

While succulents prefer bright light, too much direct sunlight can cause burning and damage to the leaves. Place your terrarium near a window with bright, indirect light or use a grow light for optimal growth.

Can I Add Decorations Or Rocks To My Succulent Terrarium?

Yes, you can decorate your terrarium with rocks, pebbles, shells, or other small objects. However, make sure they are not too large and do not affect the drainage or airflow in the terrarium. Also, avoid adding too many decorations as it can overcrowd the plants and make it difficult for them to grow.