How To: Make a Succulent Terrarium at Home


Desperate to make my bedroom look like every aesthetically-pleasing IG blogger’s room ever, I recently ran to my nearby florist to buy the perfect decoration- a succulent terrarium. I excitedly grabbed the most instagrammable terrarium, only to find out that it was *gulp*… $135. Way out of my budget. Determined to get the perfect terrarium (and the perfect insta), I asked The Sill exactly how to make my own succulent terrarium at home. Below, find a detailed guide from our friend at the Sill, Plant Scientist Christopher Satch.


What is a terrarium? What even are succulents?

Terrariums are cool, but making them is even cooler!  Succulents are quite popular nowadays, and are the perfect candidates for those insta-worthy terrariums.  Just a few things you have to know about succulents before we begin.

Succulents are living things!  To be successful with them, you need to understand that they are not a piece of furniture that you can just forget about.  If you pay attention to them, and care for them the way that they want, they will reward you with growth, and for some even flowers!

The term “succulent” contains plants that are unrelated, but have all adapted to living in desert conditions.  That means that cacti are also succulents, and can be planted with them. Succulents are desert plants, and to make them the happiest, you have to recreate desert conditions.  It’s very sunny in the desert, so to make your plants happy, you have to blast them with as much sunlight as possible!

It doesn’t rain often in the desert, so you won’t be watering too often.  Succulents show that they want water by wrinkling. If you’re ever unsure of when to water, only water if the soil is bone dry.  Give enough water to get all the soil uniformly moist, then let dry. If you water, and the water rushes off the sides, then you have not watered.  Remember to always plant like-plants with like-plants. Never plant succulents and moss together- moss likes it wet and shady; succulents are the opposite.

Now that you know how to care for the plants, here are some tips for building the terrarium.  Remember, horticulture is as much an art as it is a science, so there are multiple ways to build a terrarium.  This is just one way:

*PROTIP- it’s one cactus, many cacti


  • 1x Glass bowl or flat ceramic bowl
  • Estimate the number of succulents/cacti you’ll need by taking into account the size of the bowl.  Typically an 8” diameter bowl can fit 4x of 1” succulents. a 6” diameter bowl can fit 3x of 1” succulents.


  1. Choose a glass container with an opening, like a fish bowl.  You can also choose a flat bowl with no cover to plant the succulents in.
  2. Since these planters won’t have drainage, line the bottom of each with an inch of lava rocks to provide a place for water to pool.
  3. Cover the lava rocks with a layer of soil to just cover them and pack tight!
  4. Take the cacti/succulents out of their grow pots and loosen the roots by finessing them.  It’s ok if a few rip APART, but don’t rip them OFF
  5. You should remove about half the old soil, but no big deal if you remove more or less.
  6. Place them where you want, giving them space to grow.
  7. Using a cup or your hands, stabilize them and fill in the soil around them.
  9. Use a paintbrush to dust off your plants
  10. WATER!  Use enough water to saturate the soil but not so much that the plants are sitting in water.
  11. Place in a sunny windowsill and you’re good to go!


COVER IMAGE: @zenzymag





Gather materials - lava rocks, soil, planter, and succulents!


Add lava rocks to planter and pack a layer of soil on top. Loosen roots of succulents and arrange in planter.


Pack in more soil to stabilize plants and water until soil is wet, but plants aren’t swimming in water.


Place in sunlight and watch it grow!

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