Can succulents really survive in glass jars or terrariums?

Can succulents really survive in glass jars or terrariums?

Last year I wrote a post about growing succulents in glass jars. (See Post : Succulent Jars ) The majority of succulents should be grown outside (for most of the year) and receive some sunshine for part of the day. However, there are some succulents that will survive inside.  They do look great but you need to consider the following if do not want the succulent to die.

This is the number 1 killer of succulents in terrariums or glass jars.  They are either over watered or under watered. My first succulent terrarium plants died within a couple months – I rarely watered it and it did not receive enough light.  I have learnt a lot since then. Here are a few tips:

  1. Do ‘not’ keep the soil damp/moist.  The soil needs to be wet but then needs to dry out before watering again.
  2. Do ‘not’ spray succulents with a water bottle.  The roots of the succulent need to receive water.  Spraying does not give the succulent enough water.
  3. Do ‘not’ let water pool in the bottom of the jar/bowl.  The roots of the plant will rot and the succulent will die if they sit in water. If you have put too much water in you can turn the jar/terrarium on the side and slowly tip out the excess.

Some succulents will let you know if they are not receiving enough water.  Their roots will grow above the soil.  So if you see a succulent with roots above the soil (as below) it means you need to ensure the roots below the soil are getting enough moisture.

Echeveria Elegans Succulent Jars

Tiny white roots above the soil indicate the succulent is not receiving enough water.

Choose a well lit room that receives sun/bright light for most of the day.  A sunny window sill is ideal.  Ensure that as the sun gets lower in the sky in the winter that the window sill/room still gets the same amount of light.  If the succulent does not get enough light it will start to stretch (etiolate) and will look elongated and lanky.  If you have a heat wave and your succulents are receiving sun through a window then this could burn your succulent as the glass will intensify the sun and increase the amount of heat the succulent is receiving.

If you have your succulent in the bathroom be aware that some succulents do not like the humidity created by the shower and it will die.  This happened to me with the succulent below.

succulent died from humidity

Which succulents are the easiest to grow in glass jars/terrariums?
So which succulents are the easiest/hardiest to grow in jars….. and look good!  My favourite is Echeveria Elegans. I have had a lot of success with these on a sunny window sill.  Aloe succulents are also great indoors, they are shade lovers so being inside in a bright room is ideal for them.  The one below has also coped with the humidity in my bathroom – so far. Jade is also a great succulent to grow in a jar.  The ones below have even flowered.  The only small problem would be that they would do so well that you will probably have to prune them fairly often.

Jade plant in succulent jar

Crassula Ovata Jade plant

Echeveria Elegans

Echeveria Elegans

Jade plant grown in jar

Crassula Ovata (Jade)

Aloe Succulent in jarAloe

Aloe Vera

Aloe Succulent


I water my jars once a week in the summer and once a fortnight in the winter.  I use a tablespoon measure and put one tablespoon on the small jars and two tablespoons on the larger ones..  The good thing about glass is that you can see the water wetting the soil and therefore see when it has dried out also you can see the roots in the soil.

So, yes you can grow succulents in jars but you need to be vigilant with regards to the water.  Also be aware that the succulents will grow and could possibly outgrow the jar.


Succulent Jars

Succulent Jars

I decided to see if I could grow Succulents in glass jars.  I see them all the time for sale in elegant gift shops and at stalls at markets and fairs for a hefty price.  Once you have a few plants giving babies it’s worth a try.  Even if they seem to suffer after a while. It’s the same as cutting some flowers from your garden and bringing them inside.  Succulents just last a lot longer.  Plus, when you work out which ones can survive inside on a sunny window ledge or at least in a room which receives bright light it is very rewarding. If they do not survive you can put them outside again and they will be fine.

The first thing to do is find a glass jar.  I like to buy Ikea candles which are quite cheap and once the candle has burnt down it is an ideal glass jar for one succulent.  Any glass jar will do really.

I have an Echeveria Elegans that has babies all the time. You can usually pull the baby away from the parent plant with roots in tact. Don’t worry if there are no roots it will grow anyway.  If you do not have any babies you can buy a small plant at your local hardware store/nursery.  Echeverias usually do well and look sexy too.

Layers enhance the look of the jar. I found some pool filter sand near my daughter’s aquarium and used this as the base. This is very cheap at any pool suppliers.  You could also use sandpit sand.  Then some small pebbles on the top to finish the look.  You can can buy bags of small pebbles in the garden section at Cheap as Chips or the $1 shop. (or if you have time scour your garden for small stones.)

Echeveria Glauca in glass jar - succulent

The bottom layer is aquarium sand. Then a layer of small pebbles from the garden. It doesn’t matter if the roots reach the sand they will eventually.

Echeveria ELegans in a Jar

I water maybe a desert spoon of water every week. DO NOT saturate the jar with water it is not required and the plant will probably die.

Echeveria Elegans Succulent in a Glass JarThis one is on my kitchen window which gets morning sun for a couple of hours Sometimes I turn it around so it doesn’t grown in one direction.

Some leaves will naturally wither and die at the bottom of the plant, when they are quite dead give them a yank and they will come off easily.  Do not drench the plant/jar in water.  I only water about a desert spoon of water every week.

Aloe Succulent in Glass Jar

This is an aloe vera which is very hardy.

Aloe Succulent in Glass Jar

Using layers looks effective

Aloe Succulent

Water once per fortnight with 1 tbls


You will need:

    • a glass jar – candles in a jar from Ikea are ideal
    • a baby/small succulent – echeveria and aloe’s are a good choice as they are hardy
    • sand/pebbles – from your local cheap shop (garden section) or whatever you can find around the garden/house
  • Layer the sand and pebbles
  • Pop in the succulent
  • Place on a sunny windowsill or in a bright room.
  • These are also great for presents.
Succulent Garden

I made this little succulent garden for my daughter’s bedroom. The aloe plant on the left likes it in there so much it has 3 new babies shooting.