Good to Self, Good to Earth

trying on more healthy ways of being, day by day

Creating a Succulent Plant Terrarium


This was probably one of the coolest things I have ever made.  Remember making dioramas in school? I always loved those things.  This one is basically like a living diorama and I am very excited about how easy and fun it was to make.


My boyfriend had this old fish tank just sitting in the garage and I was looking for some way to use it.  I started with a bag of small river-rocks (sort of like a medium sized gravel) as well as a bag of small gravel and a bag of sand.


I washed everything (tank and rocks) really well with a small amount of dish soap and a lot of water.  I wasn’t exactly sure of how much rocks I would really end up using but I decided just to wash a bunch and figured I could always wash more if I needed it.

I also had a big bag of potting soil which I amended in order to meet the needs of my plants.  I was reading online about how you should really get cactus soil for these types of plants, but I explored further and found some ideas on how to mix up my own batch and see if it works out.  I added a bit of gravel, sand, eggshell powder,and coffee grounds for extra drainage, calcium, and nitrogen.


This is what my tray of homemade cactus soil looked like once I was done.  I basically just sort of went with my gut in terms of ratios on this.  If you are interested in getting more specific measurements for creating your own cactus soil, you can search and find it online pretty easily (feel free to ask if you want to see the resources I used).

The rest of my ingredients were a mixture of succulent plants and mosses.  A friend had given me two coffee cans with Aloe plants in them that were having babies all over the place so I had spread them out in these shallow trays until I could find permanent homes for them –this terrarium became one fantastic solution.  Then I also had a snake plant which had sprouted a new plant as well and needed some space.  And I went to the store to get a few of these sweet little succulents and a bright red cactus, all of which were already sprouting babies so I knew I’d get some extras out of them too. Finally, I remembered seeing some moss out in the yard and decided I might as well scoop some up and throw it in there too.  You can see I’ve actually got three different types of moss here, hoping that each of them will like it in their new home.


Once I had washed all the rocks and the tank, I was ready to start layering the foundation for my terrarium.  I made a layer of larger stones first and then covered that over with some of the small gravel before adding in a layer of sand to support good drainage.  I was interested in having a sort of hilly effect in terms of the terrain in there so I just made some mounds with extra sand.

After that I was able to pour a nice and thick layer of soil over the sand and start sticking my plants into their spots.  I put all of the plants in first and added the moss and a few extra river rocks at the end to sort of fill in the gaps.  My only concern about the moss is that it will require quite a bit more water than the other plants and also quite a bit more shade.  I decided to go ahead with my plans and see how it works out, worst case scenario I can always take the moss out.  Here’s a picture of the finished landscape inside the terrarium.  I will be sure to post again later to show how it has changed over time.



Author: goodcommon

I am a Certified Youth Yoga Instructor as well as a Certified Reiki Energy Therapy Practitioner. I received my B.A. in Psychology at LIU - Brooklyn Campus and my Master of Social Work Degree at Tulane University in New Orleans.

2 thoughts on “Creating a Succulent Plant Terrarium

  1. I’d love to see updated photos of how it looks now! I’m getting ready to make one for myself and am getting ideas from the internet.

    • Hey Nancy, thanks for commenting! I’m sad to report that mine is not as happy as I would have liked. The snake plant, cactus, and aloes are still going strong but the other succulents did not survive and in general it just hasn’t filled out the way I was hoping. As it turns out, I do not have a window that gets quite enough sunlight to really make the terrarium “sweat” the way it needs to to please all of these plants.
      I’m going to keep working on finding good place for it though and will add more info if I come up with any additional tips. Good luck to you!!

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