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A Calendar of Succulents – Terrific Terrariums

Terrariums are on trend right now and I’ve been selling quite a few over the last few months. The trick is not to overplant and to use smaller plants so you can watch them grow. 

There’s no point forcing in that huge cactus, which will soon crowd out all the other plants. If your creation looks a little sparse, add a few decorative pieces of stone or knarled wood for interest, so that once the plants start to grow they will hide the stones. You also need to consider where you will be positioning it – most succulents like full sun, but the glass walls of your chosen object will concentrate light levels and you don’t want to scorch your plants.

Some of my favourite succulents for terrariums are aloes and haworthias, which can look like sea anemones or coral amongst the gravel, helping to create a miniature seascape.  There are several small varieties and slow growing species that make strong focal points with their architectural shapes and textures. My current favourites include Aloe ‘Cosmo’: a handsome cone shaped plant with dark green overlapping tapering leaves and faint white striations. This plant is a hybrid of Aloe aristata, the lace aloe, a fairly common and hardy aloe that’s easy to look after, and Haworthia attenuata. Sometimes known as the Zebra Haworthia, this is a smallish clump-forming plant with narrow upright leaves that tend to sway or bend over, giving it an appealing look. There are many different forms of this plant, many are strongly marked with white blotches or stripes – hence the Zebra moniker! Aloes and haworthias originate from South Africa and so can tolerate full sun, but they don’t mind light shade either, which makes them a flexible terrarium plant. Both these succulents look very well with some of the more colourful echeverias – try Echeveria minima, or E. shaviana – as well as the true blue Senecio repens for a real mermaid’s paradise.

Finally, before planting make sure you include a layer of crushed charcoal between a layer of grit or leca and some good free-draining compost as this helps keep the compost sweet. Don’t forget to water frugally – there is generally no drainage so you don’t want to drown your poor plants!