Fun with Nature: Making Succulent Terrariums from Recycled Jars.

Making terrariums from used glass jars is a cost effective and fun way to bring a little nature into the home.

Making terrariums is dead easy, my nature kids love to make them for our home and also as gifts for friends, grandparents and teachers!


  • Bag garden coal
  • Bag Searles African Violet Mix (seriously the smallest bag is more then enough)
  • Pebbles
  • Recycled glass jars
  • Tongs
  • Garden trowel (not necessary, but can be helpful)

How to Create a Succulent Terrarium using Glass Jars

Step 1: Cleaning the Glass Jars

The easiest method for removing labels from glass jars, is to submerge and soak the jars in a bucket or sink of hot water for several hours or even a few days. The labels should peel off leaving a nice clean surface.


For stubborn labels, consider re-soaking or I’ve found a scorer with some Eucalyptus Oil works really well. I then pop the jars through a dishwasher cycle for a final clean. 


WHICH GLASS JARS? We used a combination of small glass jars from food items such as Indian sauces; instant coffee and baby food, to large bulk buy jars sourced from a local café.

Step 2: Selecting Succulents

I discovered that our older cacti in the garden had produced large clumps of offset or rather produced little baby cacti off the ‘Mother’ plant. These were the perfect size for our succulent terrariums. Here is what we did:


1. To pick the cacti without pricking our fingers, my daughter came up with the idea of using a pair of kitchen tongs!


2. Removed the cacti ‘babies’ by holding them carefully with the tongs and twisting until separated.


3. Carried the cacti ‘babies’ in a plastic container to keep them safe and not get prickles in our fingers.



The truth is, succulents are very hardy and require little care. They make fabulous terrarium plants for those of us that love a little garden colour, but are a little neglectful when it comes to watering.  



If you have a family member or friend that has succulents in the garden, why not ask them if it is OK for your children to come over for a ‘baby’ collecting garden adventure! Alternatively, most garden centres have a great selection of small cacti and succulent’s ideal for terrarium use. Visiting the nursery is a wonderful day out for Nature Play Kids, filled with lots of sensory experiences.


HOT TIP: When selecting succulents, be mindful of the types of jars you have chosen to plant in. Mostly, the diameter of the jar opening as this will impact on the size plant you can fit inside.

Step 3: Planting the Terrarium

Planting the terrarium is easy!


Fill the bottom of the glass jar with a layer of Potting Charcoal. The depth of this charcoal will depend on the size of the jar. For our large jars we filled to approximately 3cm depth and for small jars approximately 1cm. The charcoals primary role is to store water and drain excess moisture away from the root system of the succulents. Remember succulents tend to enjoy a drier environment. You can actually kill them from over watering.


Fill the jar with Searles African Violet Specialty Mix, to about half way to ¾ of the height of the jar. You need to leave sufficient room for the succulents, so it’s important not to over fill with potting mix.


For ease, create a ‘well’ were you wish to plant the succulent.


Plant the succulent and push potting mix over and around root system. For spiky plants like cacti, using the kitchen tongs is helpful.


Decorate with pebbles. Why not make your terrarium super special by adding in shells, feathers, seeds or items collected from nature adventures!


Water. Don’t over water your succulents. You only need to give ¼ cup of water tor the large terrariums and then leave for 3-4 weeks depending on the weather.


Not only is creating a succulent terrarium fun and a lovely way of bringing nature indoors, they also make great affordable gifts for teachers, friends and family.


Submitted by Renee Nugent, About The Garden Magazine

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