Terrific Terrariums!

Planting a terrarium is fun and rewarding – it makes the perfect weekend project and is so simple that it’s easy to get children involved too – so that you can create a terrific terrarium together!

There are a few things to consider…

  • Decide if you want a moist or dry terrarium – tropical plants and ferns require a more moist environment whereas cacti and succulents require a drier environment.
  • Whichever you choose, be sure to find like-minded plants which will enjoy the environment you’ll be creating – that way you’ll have a much better chance of success.
  • Cacti and succulents are generally fairly slow-growing, so be to choose enough plants so that your terrarium doesn’t look too sparse.
  • Consider what you might want to add as decorative touches – additions such as gravel, drift wood, shells and moss will help to create an evocative and natural environment.

We’re planting cacti and succulents in our terrarium and, because they love sun and don’t require a moist environment, we’re using an open terrarium. Ready to get started? Then read on!

You’ll need…

  • Your chosen terrarium container
  • Horticultural sand
  • Activated charcoal
  • Cactus & succulent compost
  • A plant mister
  • A dibber (or other tool to create planting holes)
  • Decorative gravel
  • A small paint brush
  • Finishing touches – such as small rocks, stones, shells etc


Start by ensuring your terrarium is clean in order to allow maximum light to get to your plants.

Next add a layer of horticultural sand (about 2cm deep) to the base of your container – this will help with drainage when you water your terrarium.

Then add a layer of activated charcoal (also about 2cm deep) – this will act as a filter to remove toxins and bacteria from the compost and water and will deodorise your terrarium.

Next add cactus/succulent compost (which is specially formulated for plants which like a dry environment) deep enough to cover the plant roots but below the rim of your container. Then smooth the compost and and firm it slightly using your fingers. At this stage, you could also consider varying the height in areas of your planter by adding more compost to add extra interest. Finally, use a mister spray to dampen the compost.

Planting Up

Before you start planting, decide how your plants are going to be arranged to create the most effective combination – and it’s much easier to do this by moving pots around on your work surface outside of the terrarium!

Once you’ve decide on placement, gently remove your plants from their pots, removing any surplus soil around the roots.

Then use your dibber (or other tool) to make holes in the compost to take each plant, simply pop each one in and gently firm the compost around the base of each plant. If space for firming is a little restricted and it’s not easy to use your fingers, then make the task a little easier by using the handle of a teaspoon.

Finally, give each plant just a teaspoonful of water.

Finishing Touches

Once all the plants have been planted, finish your terrarium by adding a layer of gravel. Then use a small paint brush to dust off any particles which have landed on your plants, and wipe the inside of your terrarium to remove any stray compost etc.

Next it’s time to get creative and add any additional flourishes such as rocks, stones, shells etc.

Then give your plants a final mist before placing them in your chosen, sunny location – and enjoy!

Ongoing Care

Dry, open terrariums containing cacti and succulents need very little attention and a teaspoon of water for each plant once a month should be enough to keep them happy – feeding is not necessary.

Now you know how easy it is, visit us in-store to stock up on everything you’ll need to create your own terrific terrarium!


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