My Failure Growing Succulents In A Terrarium

By Tonya Barnett | September 10, 2020
Image by fottodk
by Tonya Barnett
September 10, 2020

I have always been interested in caring for indoor plants. Though many people have the ability to grow houseplants year-round, this is simply a skill I have always lacked. Despite my best efforts and research on the subject, nearly every indoor plant that I have ever attempted to grow has met an early and unfortunate demise. Maybe some of you can relate.

It is for this reason that I was initially drawn to the idea of growing succulents in a terrarium. I had heard that both terrariums and succulents require little care, so it only seemed natural that this creation would be an easy way for me to enjoy tending plants all year long. Through experience, however, I quickly found that it may not have been in the best interest of the plants.  

Succulent Plants in Terrariums

The term ‘succulent‘ can be used to refer to various types of plants which are able to store their own water in their leaves and in other plant parts, making succulent plants able to grow exceptionally well under otherwise harsh conditions. This plant’s water-wise characteristic makes it ideal for growth indoors in containers, though meeting certain needs are essential.

Before I started my terrarium, I knew that it would be important to ensure that conditions were right for my new plants. This meant that the selection of a terrarium container would be imperative. By nature, succulent plants need ample airflow and moisture regulation. Without proper conditions, humidity and excess water within the terrarium can quickly cause the plants to die. I selected a shallow glass with ample holes and openings for evaporation and air movement.

When planting any succulent, make certain to use only soil mixtures specifically formulated for use with succulent plants. Heavier soils can cause root rot, as well as create potential issues related to mold. With this in mind, I carefully nestled my succulent plants into the soil and watered it using a light mist from a spray bottle. I made certain to avoid watering the terrarium again until the medium had completely dried. My new creation found its home in a bright location with ample indirect sunlight.

Even with my best efforts to manage my new planting, it would only be time before my succulent plants would succumb to the excess moisture in my terrarium planting. High humidity caused by the terrarium glass, in combination with poor evaporation, would prove too much for my plants. Though those beautiful photos of succulent terrariums had lured me to plant my own, I was once again left disappointed.

This doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find success with growing succulents in a terrarium environment. Many people do. I’m just not one of them – maybe some of you can relate.

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  • Audrey
    Comment added October 29, 2020Reply

    Succulents in shallow open air dishes. Tropical in terrariums.

  • Karunagaran Govindasamy
    Comment added October 26, 2020Reply

    I am in Malaysia.
    I have a great smelling multi petal red local rose shrub.
    I need advise on how to successfully propagate using cuttings.

    Thank you.

  • Janet Weiblen
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    Your attempts were significant. What was not significant was finding out HOW to plant these gardens so that they do not rot.

  • Diana Fraley
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    Thank you. I have tried 2 times. This is good information. I will try one more time and if it doesn't work I will give up too.

  • Lyn
    Comment added September 15, 2020Reply

    I can relate. I mostly covered my succulent pot with plastic (at work) for my 2 wk vacation, thinking it would be self watering. I came back to a rotting mess! :(

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