There’s a huge buzz around houseplants at the moment, from cacti, succulents and air plants, to all manner of low-maintenance specimens.

Creating your own bottle garden, containing a variety of easy-care houseplants, can provide an eye-catching centrepiece to a table or sideboard, with the least amount of fuss and mess.

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Terrarium with succulent plant. Miniature cactus succulent plant in a glass vase

We attended a Squire’s Garden Centres masterclass to find out how to do it.

How to create a bottle garden of succulents

1. What you’ll need

Bottle garden succulents
Choose a glass bottle with a wide neck to make planting easy (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Start with a glass bottle with a wide base – to allow maximum space for your plants – and a wide opening you can easily get your hands into to plant your mini indoor garden; it’ll provide the plants with good ventilation, too.

succulents bottle garden
Use cactus and succulent potting mix (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

You’ll need a small bag of potting grit to allow good drainage and help avoid waterlogging, and a small bag of cactus and succulent potting mix.

Succulents
Succulents are a good bet (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Of course, plants are key. Use denominations of odd numbers, which are easier on the eye – we used five. Cacti and succulents are the ideal choices. You can use upright sansevieria to create height, while aloe vera, cacti, echeveria, sempervivum and Crassula ovata (money plant) are all suitable to grow in a bottle.

2.  Create good drainage

Succulents bottle garden
A layer of grit creates the necessary drainage (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Use a small empty flowerpot to transfer potting grit into the base of the bottle. It needs to be around 2in (6cm) deep to provide the drainage your plants will need.

Press and smooth the grit so there are no air pockets, then make a slight dip in the centre of the grit, into which you’ll pour the potting mix. That way, the compost won’t touch the glass and you will be left with just the grit and the plants visible from the side.

3. Pour in the potting mix

Succulents bottle garden
Create a circle of potting mix within the grit (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

This is made from compost ideal for cacti and succulents. Use the small flowerpot to transfer the compost into the bottle, pouring it carefully into the dip in the centre so you don’t get potting compost on the glass. Create a small mound – the plants won’t need much root depth.

4. Position your plants

Succulents bottle garden
Sansevieria can be placed behind low-growing rosettes of succulents (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Your bottle garden is likely to have a front and back, so use taller plants like upright sansevieria at the back and low-growing plants such as sempervivum at the front. You shouldn’t need to water them before planting. If they are dry, they are easier to pot.

5. Don’t overfill your bottle

Woman designing her terrarium with succulents and cactus by hand

Give the plants plenty of room to allow as much air circulation as possible.

Once you have planted them in the compost, firm them in so there are no big air pockets and the soil is even. Don’t plant them too deeply as you are going to finish off the bottle with another layer of grit and you don’t want the plants to disappear.

6. Finish off with another layer of grit

This last stage should be done carefully, so you don’t damage your plants. Use a small, clean paintbrush to dust grit off the leaves.

Alternatively, cut out small circles of fleece or scrap material to lightly cover and protect the surface of your plants, particularly the leafy rosette kinds, before you add the final layer of grit to hide the compost completely. Remove the fleece once the grit has been added.

7. Personalise your bottle

Making Terrarium workshop succulent cactus

Add small stones, flint or slate, which may match the décor of your house, or even add elements of fun, such as Lego characters or shells.

8. Water sparingly

Succulents bottle garden water
Try not to get water on the leaves (Thinkstock/PA)

The plants in bottle gardens tend to be slow-growing and should last for a few years before they need repotting.

Water lightly once or twice a month in the winter, using a small watering can with a narrow mouth so you can direct the water on to the compost. Try not to get water on the leaves, as this can lead to rotting. If you see water pooling at the bottom of the bottle, you’ve gone too far.

In winter, they will need less watering than in summer. Do the finger test – if you put your finger in the compost and it comes out bone dry and clean, you may need to add a little water.

9. Give succulents light

mini succulent garden in glass terrarium

Succulents and other bottle garden plants need plenty of light, but preferably not direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Don’t put them close to radiators.

10. Remove dead leaves

If dead leaves appear on rosettes and other plants, remove them to stop the plants rotting, and if it’s clear they are struggling, move them to a lighter, drier area. They don’t like too much humidity so avoid putting a bottle garden in your bathroom. Rotten leaves indicate too much moisture.

Remember, most people kill their houseplants with kindness and these bottle garden beauties need very little care.

Learn how to create a gorgeous succulent display in a pot with our Wise Living guide.

Squire’s Garden Centres are holding bottle garden planting masterclasses with succulents on Thursday 12 or Friday 13 March, priced £30. For details and to book online, visit squiresgardencentres.co.uk.

Best-selling succulent plant pots

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

SaleBestseller No. 1
T4U 16.5CM Ceramic White Rectangle Succulent Plant Pot/Cactus Plant Pot With Bamboo Tray Package 1...
  • Small Ceramic Plant Pots - Perfect for holding succulent, herbs and catus plants.
  • Indoor Use - Ideal for windowsill and office table decoration; Perfect Gift for Wedding, Birthday, Chrismas, etc.
  • A small Drain Hole on the Bottom; Pack with Bamboo Trays.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Warmplus 7.5CM Succulent Plant Pot, Ceramic Mandala Pattern Cactus Plants Pot, Small Plant Pots for...
  • ✿ 【HANDMADE CERAMIC CRAFT】 These mandala design ceramic succulent pots can tolerate extreme weather because they are 1300° high-temperature fired for 8 hours of stoneware. This ceramic pot made...
  • ✿ 【APPROXIMATE SIZE】 This set comes with 6 plant pots included, sizes are all around W7cm x H7cm, suitable for seedling pots within 6.5cm in diameter. Each ceramic plant pot features a drainage...
  • ✿ 【SUITABLE PLANTS AND SPACE】 This small plant pot is designed to grow petite plants or display artificial plants, like asparagus fern, Boston fern, cactus, succulent, and virtually every other...
Bestseller No. 3
T4U 6CM Cement Succulent Pots with Bamboo Tray 6-Set, Concrete Cactus Pots Small Cacti Planter Grey...
406 Reviews
T4U 6CM Cement Succulent Pots with Bamboo Tray 6-Set, Concrete Cactus Pots Small Cacti Planter Grey...
  • Material Composition - Hand-Made succulent pot of top-quality cement, tough and durable, Good Quality Guaranteed.
  • Nordic Style - Light-Grey color combined with white line pattern brings you with a retro sentiments of the Industrial Revolution; Simple and sleek appearance displays well your lovely plants,...
  • Scientific Design - Study Cement Pots with a small drainage hole in the bottom help take care of your plants; Pack with durable bamboo saucer to keep your desktop clean all the day.
Bestseller No. 4
Set of 3 Grey Concrete Cement Indoor Plant Flower Pots with 1 Stand. For Succulent and Cacti in Home...
  • Design style: These beautiful pots are hand painted in three complementary colours – white, teal and blueblack – and all are finished with an eye-catching rose gold / copper strip to really make a...
  • Dinky dimensions: Ideal for showcasing the striking lines of miniature and small succulents and cute cacti. Large pot: w13cm x h10cm, blueblack and grey with rose gold / copper band. Medium pot: w11cm...
  • Perfect fit: Coming in different heights and diameters, the largest of the three pots has a stand to allow for a super-chic arrangement of all three together – although they will look equally as...
Bestseller No. 5
6CM Ceramic Small Plant Pots Tiny, Ice Crack Succulent Plant Pot Flower Pots Container Planter with...
  • [ CERAMIC SUCCULENT PLANT POT ] - Ceramic small plant pot is made of high-quality and durable ceramic, lightweight and durable; height - 3cm(1.2"), width - 6cm(2.4"), total weight - 450g(58g each);...
  • [ PERFECT DESIGN ] - Each mini flower pots come with a drain hole at the bottom, the drain holes can easily avoid the problem of over watering,do good to succulent plants' rhizomatous respiration and...
  • [ FREE BAMBOO TRAY ] - Each home ornaments plant pots comes with a tray, the tray made of bamboo is perfect to catch drips for potted plants, prevent water from wetting the ground, the tray works well...

Last update on 2021-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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