DIY Succulent Terrarium
There are different types of DIY succulent terrarium. A DIY terrarium can either be open or closed depending on your preference. Succulent terrariums are some of my favorite arrangements because of the many types of succulents that you can put together for an awesome look. In this post, let’s learn how to make an open succulent terrarium.
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- Open glass container
- Well-draining soil
- Accent pieces such as driftwood
- Sheet moss and reindeer lichen
Check the latest prices for the DIY succulent terrarium kit from Amazon.
There are different types of open glass containers. You can choose one that is circular and free standing or you can choose different designs for hanging. You can get them at your local craft store.
When choosing your succulents, you can find a wide selection of awesome succulents online check these ones from Leafandclay. Keep in mind that ultimately the plants that you have will basically determine how your terrarium is landscaped.
It’s advisable to get some taller succulents for background plants, some shorter succulents for foreground plants and some mid-range succulents for your middle ground.
DIY Succulent Soil Mix
When getting soil that is well-draining, you can buy a pre-mixed soil or you can mix up your own. When planting succulents, you can make your own soil mix. Making the mix does not have to be difficult especially if you have access to the different supplies.
- Some type of soil (Coco fiber, peat moss or potting soil)
- Some type of bark or wood chips (such as orchid bark)
- Sand (the more course the sand the better)
- Some perlite or pumice
- Measuring container (such as a plastic cup)
- Mixing container (such as a bucket)
- Fine mesh
Perlite is pretty cheap and it helps keep the soil a little bit more aerated and drain a little bit better. Check the latest prices for the DIY succulent soil kit from Amazon.
Choose a measuring container that is in proportion to the size of your terrarium. I like to use a plastic cup which is readily available and is large enough.
Begin by measuring three parts of soil and put it in the bucket. Next measure one-part wood chips followed by ½ part sand and ½ part gravel. Finally, measure two parts perlite as the last ingredient.
The DIY succulent soil mix can be adjusted to make the quantity that you need depending on the size of your terrarium. As an example, you can double the measurements for everything if your terrarium container is large.
Mix all the ingredients properly. The final product kind of looks like a traditional farming mix but it’s a lot crumblier. You want to end up with a soil mix that if you add a little bit of water to a handful of the soil in a separate container and then wring it out it will still crumble similar to what it did when it was dry.
Creating a DIY Succulent Terrarium
Making a false bottom in a succulent terrarium is not a must but it is highly recommended. Basically, what you’re going to do is put about two inches of gravel at the bottom of the container. You can always put more or less depending on the size of the container you are using.
After laying the gravel, you can flatten it out evenly at the bottom. Measure and cut a piece of the fine mesh that will cover the gravel layer. On top of the gravel, lay the fine mesh. It is recommended to use fine mesh that is not metal because you don’t want a material that will rust.
Create a false bottom will save you if you over water the arrangement. It’s not a must but I highly recommend especially because the terrarium doesn’t have any drainage holes.
The final step when making the false bottom is put some rocks on the mesh just to keep it laying flat and avoid it folding over on itself. Just one handful is sufficient or just a few rocks if your terrarium is small.
Filling the Arrangement with Soil
After creating the succulent terrarium false bottom, the next step is to create a layer of soil. You can add the soil with your hands or with a container. The idea is to sprinkle the soil in there and not to compact it.
When adding the layer of soil, it’s important to remember that the succulent plants will have soil in their containers. The soil will also take up space which can be significant especially if you have a small terrarium container. However, if your container is large, then this should not be a concern.
After adding the soil, you can spread it out and even it out. Use swooping moves to move the soil around as needed avoiding any compacting.
You can add your accents before adding the plants or you can add them after. When using driftwood, I prefer to add them before planting the succulents, one because they can be large and two because I often plant the succulents around the pieces. Place them in the most ideal positions based on their shape as well as the shape of the container.
Planting the Succulents
The first step is to separate your succulent plants according to height. Plant the tallest ones at the back. To do so, simply dig out a little hole with your fingers at the back of the terrarium.
Be careful when getting the plant from the planter container it comes in. Just give the pot a gentle squeeze at the base and the plant just slides right out. You don’t pull it out because it might ruin the roots or rip some of the stems.
Place the plant in the hole at the back of the terrarium moving it around to get it to the most appropriate position. When satisfied with how it’s placed tack the soil around the base.
Continue planting the rest of the succulents moving from the tallest to the medium heights and then the smallest. Sometimes you might have to add more soil to ensure that the succulents are anchored properly. Just grab a handful of the soil mixture and add it where it’s needed and continue planting until you are done.
Cleaning the Succulents
When planting your DIY succulent terrarium in a majority of the cases some soil will get on the succulent leaves. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, the limited space makes it hard to avoid having some particles land on the plants.
The best way to clean the soil is by using a drinking straw. Take the bent end and point it towards the plants and blow. Blow all the soil particles off all the succulents.
Final Touches on DIY Succulent Terrarium
The final touches on a DIY succulent terrarium are optional. Finishing up a succulent terrarium can also be done in different ways depending on the preferences of the owner.
I personally like to finish up terrariums because having just the planted look is kind of bland. I add some sheet moss and some reindeer lichen and a few stones. However, with the stones you don’t want to go overboard, if you put too many in there it can become distasteful and take away from the natural look.
The sheet moss can be broken up because it comes all dried up in sheets hence the name sheet moss. Break small pieces and put them all over and try to cover the soil that is still exposed. It gives the terrarium a natural look and doesn’t affect the soil negatively.
Next is adding the reindeer lichen. It can also be broken down into small pieces. Add them to the arrangement by adding them into any spaces that were left after adding the sheet moss.
I like to add the reindeer lichen towards the front of the terrarium because it’s significantly lighter than the sheet moss. It creates a nice color flow. The reindeer lichen also creates a good contrast with the colors of the succulents.
When you are satisfied with the look you are ready to add some accent stones. Get some stones that blend well with the arrangement look. When going for a natural look you can use some flat sandstone. Feel free to break up the stones before adding them to the arrangement.
Pebbles as a Finishing Look
Some people like finishing their DIY succulent terrarium with pebbles or decorative rocks similar to what is used in container or ground planted succulents.
The process is similar to topdressing normal succulent plants. Just add the pebbles or decorative rocks all around the succulents. The process is more straightforward compared to when you are going for a natural look.
DIY Succulent Terrarium Care
Watering a succulent terrarium is critical because it determines how long it will last. Succulents are not high maintenance plants and many people can easily care for them. However, the fact that they are in a terrarium with a limited amount of soil means that they require more care than those planted in the ground or in other types of containers.
The best way to water a succulent terrarium is by using a mister which can be pressurized or not. It is best to provide the plants with a fine mist. Mist all the plants all around rather than holding it over one place for long.
It is also advisable to mist a lot more on the first mist just help the plants get established. After that, mist every other day or thereabout. Slacking when taking care of the succulents, will cause the plants to become translucent or fall apart.
Overwatering and Underwatering
If you’re under-watering your plants they’ll start to become discolored and dry. When the leaves turn yellow or black, it’s indicative of overwatering. If you notice the symptoms of overwatering or under watering change up your watering habits to get optimal results.
People who have never taken care of a terrarium, it can take a little while for you to perfect it. However, you should not lose too many plants in the process and just like all other plant care, it gets easier with practice.