Cultivation of succulent plants and cacti … Easy as …

The craze for these particular looking funny plants is constantly growing. Suddenly, everyone wants to own their little succulent arrangement or glass terrarium (see explanations at the bottom of this article). Plump, tapered, prickly or erected, they allow the creation of original and decorative plant associations. And what about their incomparable ease of maintenance and their amazing ability to adapt to the climate.

But be careful, although they seem robust, succulents and cacti can quickly wither if some of their cultivation requirements are not met. Here are some tips and tricks to succeed in their cultivation with peace of mind.

Potting soil

Draining and porous, here are the main characteristics of the substrate recommended for optimal development. Water must circulate quickly and freely without risk of stagnation. Most commercial mixtures specially designed for growing cacti and succulents have the desired properties.


As a rule, succulents and cacti prefer to be cramped in their pot. Whether it is plastic or stoneware (preferable to prevent root rot), the chosen container must have one or more drainage holes. A low-walled pot is perfect for cacti, while succulents love standard sized pots.

Lighting and temperature

Contrary to popular belief, too much heat and light exposure can cause irreversible damage to some of them. Instead, opt for an east or west orientation (depending on the plant) and for temperatures between 25 ° and 30 ° C during the day and 10 ° and 15 ° C at night. Out in the summer, a semi-shaded exposure is perfect for them, as cacti like to bask in the sun.


Like all plants, succulents and cacti need water. In the summer, deep and frequent watering (not just a few drops) with warm water (room temperature) are recommended. Do not wait for the leaves to stunt before watering, but you have to let the soil dry out almost completely between watering. In the winter, you will need to reduce watering frequency (without completely stopping) to prevent root rot.

Fertilizer inputs

Once a month in a period of active growth, from May to August, fertilizer inputs, rich in potassium and phosphorus (a tomato fertilizer will do), will promote their good development. In the winter, no addition of fertilizer is recommended as your plants will rest. Too much fertilization or too rich in nitrogen weakens the plants and makes them more vulnerable to diseases and pests.

And finally…

How does a terrarium work?

In a terrarium, there is the creation of a microclimate that allows for cultivation under a controlled atmosphere. The water from watering is constantly recycled. When it evaporates, there is condensation that forms on the glass container walls. This moisture (condensation, evapotranspiration) created by the water contained in the plants and in the soil slides along the walls and returns to the roots which absorb it quickly, that is why cultivation in glass containers requires only very little watering

What you need to design your terrarium

  • Choose a glass container with a lid
  • Place about 1 cm of miniature stones at the bottom of the container
  • Add a few pieces of horticultural charcoal on the stone
  • Add the previously moistened potting soil, enough to plant your plants properly
  • Make your plantings (reduce the clod if necessary)
  • Customize with decorative stones, foam and miniature objects
  • Clean the glass with a brush
  • Close your container in an air-tight fashion

** There might be condensation during the first days, slightly open your container until it disappears (a few hours) then close again. Watering is done once a month by spraying water on the inner surface of the glass.

There you go… happy gardening!