Blog Mental Health DIY Art Therapy: Tips For Creating Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens In Terrariums

DIY Art Therapy: Tips For Creating Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens In Terrariums

Art Therapy: Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens (Terrariums)

Art is many things, and one of them is therapeutic. Creating something beautiful can help you relax and can be a great way to express yourself. If you’re looking for an easy, low-cost way to practice art therapy, consider creating a zen garden or succulent garden in a terrarium. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor project, these tips will ensure your DIY art therapy experience is stress-free and enjoyable. For starters, finding a terrarium you like and that works for your space is key. While terrariums come in all shapes and sizes, traditional glass enclosures work best for most gardens (11). If you want to make a mini outdoor garden, consider something more unique such as an old birdcage or even an aquarium tank. Stumped on what type of terrarium to choose out of the dozens available online, or at your local garden center? This guide will help you choose the right products and get you started on the right foot.

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What Type Of Terrarium Should I Choose?

If you’re planning on making a zen garden, consider the fact that there are two main types of terrariums available: open-air and closed. 

Closed terrariums are great for creating lush, tropical environments because they maintain humidity levels, while open-air terrariums are ideal for succulents, cacti and other plants that don’t require much moisture(10).

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Within these two categories, there are many different styles and materials to choose from. 

Your best bet is to consider the following factors before purchasing:

Terrarium Size

When it comes to terrarium size, the sky is truly the limit. Smaller terrariums work great for tabletop displays, while larger terrariums can become a focal point in the room (6). Consider where you’d like to put your terrarium before purchasing. 

A larger terrarium can be used for a variety of plants, while a smaller one is a great choice for zen gardens or succulent collections. We recommend erring on the side of a bigger one if you have the space, as it gives you more flexibility with your design.

Art Therapy: Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens (Terrariums)


Glass terrariums are the most common and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are usually the best choice because they are transparent, non-reactive, and easy to clean (4).  

However, if you prefer something a bit more unique, consider using plastic or ceramic terrariums. Whichever material you go with, make sure that it won’t react with the plants inside or the environment outside.

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Size Of The Opening

This is especially important if you’re planning on growing succulents and cacti in your terrarium. Look for terrariums with wide openings so you can easily reach in to maintain or rearrange your plants (9).

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If you’re just getting started, we recommend choosing a terrarium with an opening that’s at least 5 inches wide for easy access and maintenance. 

Terrarium Shape 

Choosing the shape of the terrarium is half the fun—it can truly transform the look of your space. Whether you choose traditional rectangular shapes or more unique designs such as hexagons, there is something for everyone’s taste and home decor. 

That said, you should know that the shape can determine how much drainage and substrate you’ll need. For instance, the more curved sides of a hexagon terrarium require more substrate than a traditional square or rectangular shape (7). 

Art Therapy: Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens (Terrariums)

Where Should I Buy My Terrarium?

Now that you’re armed with all the information on terrariums, it’s time to find one that suits your needs. Thankfully, terrariums are widely available online and at most garden centers or hobby stores. 

However, the best place to find a terrarium with all the features you need is from an experienced florist or vendor. They can help guide you in your choices and make sure you get the right terrarium for your plants. 

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When shopping online, make sure to read customer reviews and look for guarantees. This will ensure that the terrarium you purchase has good quality materials, is properly sealed, and is free from defects or damages. 

What Should I Put In My Terrarium?

Once you’ve picked the perfect terrarium, it’s time to start adding plants! Here, we’ll take you through two popular uses for terrariums; zen gardens and succulent gardens. 

What’s A Zen Garden?

Zen gardens are a type of Japanese rock garden designed to evoke feelings of tranquility and inner peace. Traditionally, these gardens use sand and various sized rocks arranged in patterns, but can also incorporate succulents, driftwood and other natural elements to add texture(13). 

What’s A Succulent Garden?

Succulent gardens are a great way to bring some greenery into your home, as succulents require very little maintenance. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and thrive in small spaces like terrariums.

Plants like aloe vera, sedums, and echeverias are great choices for terrariums. An ambitious DIYer can create an entire miniature landscape with cacti and succulents. 

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Art Therapy: Zen Gardens, Succulent Gardens (Terrariums)

Can I Create Both A Zen Garden And A Succulent Garden In The Same Terrarium?

Absolutely! Depending on the size of your terrarium, you can combine both styles to create a unique and stunning display. Just make sure you choose plants that are compatible with one another and can thrive in the same environment. 

In fact, succulents are a great addition to your zen garden as they require little to no maintenance. 

Here are our top tips for ensuring your combination is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also healthy for your plants: 

  • Terrarium Choice

Succulents need lots of ventilation and light so you want to make sure to choose a terrarium with enough opening and access points(5).  

  • Lighting

Succulents need indirect sunlight so make sure to place your terrarium near a window that gets enough light but not too much direct sunlight(8). 

  • Soil

You want to find a well-draining soil that won’t retain too much water. 

  • Fertilize

Use a balanced succulent fertilizer to keep your plants healthy and thriving. 

  • Water

Succulents and zen gardens require different watering schedules, so make sure to research the right amount of water for each type of plant(2).

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What Are The Benefits Of Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art-making as its main method of intervention. Common activities include drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage-making. It can also include photography, writing, poetry and jewelry-making(1).

Art therapy can help people express emotions in a healthy and productive way, as well as helping with stress relief, increasing self-esteem, developing problem-solving skills, and more(3). 

Creating terrariums is a great way to practice art therapy, as it gives you the freedom to express yourself in a creative and meaningful way. Whether you’re creating a zen garden or succulent terrarium, the process of designing and assembling your own work of art can be therapeutic and calming(12). 

It’s also a great way to connect with nature, as you get to watch your plants grow and evolve as you nurture them. 

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The Bottom Line 

Thinking of buying a terrarium and getting creative? It’s a great way to practice art therapy and bring nature indoors. Create your own zen garden or succulent terrarium with these tips and reap the therapeutic benefits of art-making.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Art Therapy: A Complementary Treatment for Mental Disorders (2021, 
  2. Campus Gardens (2015, 
  3. Creativity and Recovery: The Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy (2019,
  4. Go miniature with a glass terrarium (2019, 
  5. How to Grow Succulents in Artificial Light (2019, 
  6. Make your own terrarium (2020, 
  7. Size and shape of your terrarium (2023, 
  8. Succulent Sunlight: 3 Tips to Keep Them Healthy (2023, 
  9. Terrariums (2019,
  10. Terrariums (2023, 
  11. Terrariums – An Old Idea Revisited (2019, 
  12. The therapeutic impact of terrarium building(2019, tel 
  13. WELCOME TO ZEN GARDEN (2023, zen