How to Make a Tabletop Succulent Terrarium

Combine succulents, rocks and hand-selected items for a sweet Mother's Day gift or a fun activity with friends or kids.

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Terrarium designer Megan George has collected some of her favorite DIY succulent and air plant projects into her book, Modern Terrarium Studio. The Cascading Rock Terrarium, a tabletop succulent terrarium, is one of those projects that she shared with Made+Remade.

Photo by: The Zen Succulent

The Zen Succulent

George says it’s a good example of a project that adults and kids can do because of the large container and the ability to bring in elements from your yard, such as stones, or items that catch your eye at craft stores.

“How you’re going to make your terrarium unique is...the items that you use within it in addition to those succulents,” says George, who owns The Zen Succulent, an online modern terrarium and plant craft business with a brick and mortar shop in Durham, N.C.

Materials Needed:

  • 10” by 4” glass cylinder pan vase
  • 7 cups of cactus and succulent soil mix
  • activated charcoal
  • decorative turquoise stones
  • large turquoise mineral rocks (Utah Lake rocks used in example)


  • 3" (8cm) potted Anacampseros
  • two 3" (8cm) potted Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’
  • 3" (8cm) potted Haworthia attenuata radula ‘Hankey Dwarf Aloe’
  • 3" (8cm) potted Portulacaria afra ‘Elephant Bush’
  • 4" (10cm) potted Graptosedum ‘Vera Higgins’
  • two 3" (8cm) Crassula graptopetalum ‘Ghost Plant’
  • 4" (10cm) potted Pachyveria
  • 3" (8cm) potted Euphorbia spiralis ‘Spiral Spurge’
  • 3" (8cm) potted Haworthia chloracantha

Add sand and turquoise stones. Gently fill the bottom of the vase one-fifth full with a layer of sand. Add a layer of turquoise stones filling the vase another one-fifth full.

Add charcoal and soil, then arrange the mineral rocks. Place a thin layer of activated charcoal over the stones followed by 4 cups of cactus and succulent soil mix. Arrange the turquoise mineral rocks close together in the center of the vase, leaving a 2" (5cm) gap between them. Use the remaining soil to build a small hill around the gap; this provides the base for the succulents to cascade downward.

Unpot all the plants and remove any soil from the roots. Arrange the plants, creating the illusion of them gently growing on top of the soil and cascading down the hill. Carefully plant each succulent starting from the center of the vase.

Add more turquoise stones. Use the turquoise stones to cover any visible soil. Place the terrarium in bright indirect light. Water the plants once a week, or more frequently as needed.

Soil in DIY Terrarium

Soil in DIY Terrarium

Begin by filling the bottom of the glass terrarium bowl one-fifth full of sand. Follow by adding a layer of turquoise stones and another layer of activated charcoal. The Cascading Rock Collection is a project in “Modern Terrarium Studio,” by Megan George.

Photo by: The Zen Succulent

The Zen Succulent

Turquoise Rocks in DIY Terrarium

Turquoise Rocks in DIY Terrarium

By arranging the turquoise rocks in the center of the terrarium and then covering them with another layer of cactus and succulent soil mix, you can add a height to your terrarium. The Cascading Rock Collection is a project in “Modern Terrarium Studio,” by Megan George.

Photo by: The Zen Succulent

The Zen Succulent

Modern Succulent Terrarium

Modern Succulent Terrarium

Unpot all succulents and gently brush the dirt from their roots. By beginning at the center of the container, arrange the succulents so they appear to be cascading down the hill, giving the terrarium a naturally grown appearance. The Cascading Rock Terrarium is a project in “Modern Terrarium Studio,” by Megan George.

Photo by: The Zen Succulent

The Zen Succulent

More on Succulents

Everything You Need to Know About Succulents

Learn how to grow and care for succulents and cactuses.

Creative Genius: The Zen Succulent

Meet a modern terrarium designer.

Give your home a lush touch with these mini garden ideas. 

Modern Terrarium

Modern Terrarium

Set your terrarium in bright, indirect light; for example, near a window. Be sure to water your plants once a week, or more often if necessary. The Cascading Rock Collection is a project in “Modern Terrarium Studio,” by Megan George.

Photo by: The Zen Succulent

The Zen Succulent

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