By Marina Welham (January, 2001)
The only plants that should be grown in terrariums are those which benefit from the cool, humid, shaded environment these containers create.
No succulent plants, including cacti, will get any benefit from being grown under these conditions because these are not the conditions under which these plants thrive.
If you insist on trying to grow succulents in a terrarium, make sure you choose inexpensive plants since you are bound to lose them sooner or later. That is why I call Terrariums ‘Coffins for Succulents‘!
Dish Gardens can be very nice if the correct choice of plants is made. For one thing, there is no point having a group of cacti or the other succulents, some of which like full sun and some which do not.
Most containers made for dish gardens don’t have a hole in the bottom. This means moisture can sit unseen on the bottom of the pot under the soil, and if it never dries out can cause the roots and plants to rot. You should always make a hole at the bottom of the dish garden and then sit that dish in another dish to catch any water that drains out.
Plastic pot saucers which come in fairly large sizes up to a foot and a half in diameter and 2″ deep are quite handy to hold a dish garden and are available at most garden centers for three or four dollars. They also come in a variety of colors including green, white … and a red color that looks like clay which goes very well with the red clay containers usually offered for dish gardens.
Always remove excess water that drains into the bottom dish.
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