When I was preparing an article on how to make a terrarium with plants, aka florarium, I could not imagine that the trend will last so long. Yes, the miniature “ecosystem” looks spectacular, it is possible to implement many interesting ideas. But for succulents such conditions are categorically unsuitable.
Having bought several plants in a flower store, a beginner may conclude that in essence their care should not differ – they were on the same shelf, under the same light, planted in the same substrate. This is not the case. Thanks to the chemistry on which flowers are grown commercially, they can tolerate unsuitable conditions for a while (realization time), but still the cactus will not become an algae and the fittonia will not become a desert ascetic.
Why do cacti and succulents die in florariums?
I observe with sadness the popularity of websites and social networking groups that sell florariums with succulents. These arrangements are beautiful, but, alas, short-lived. Plants that have lived in dry climates for centuries and grow powerful roots in quickly drying soil are forced to sour in a limited space. Even if the container has a wide opening at the top, this is still not enough to ensure optimal air movement for them.
Water has nowhere to go after watering, because it will evaporate more slowly, and there is no drainage hole in the florarium. “Why not water less?” – you ask. Because there is not and can not be an exact dosage. The need for water depends on the size of the above-ground part of the plant and the root system, on light and temperature, on the phase of growth. If growing by waterfalls senpolias can cope with an excess of moisture within reasonable limits, the slow metabolism of cacti and succulents will not help – stagnant water for them is destructive.
Another problem is lighting. If you put the florarium on the window and water it, there is a great risk that the roots will overheat and boil. Therefore, the best place for it is not under direct rays. But succulents with a lack of light quickly begin to stretch out. Just for this reason, imitating the cycles of nature, in autumn with the reduction of daylight collectors send them into hibernation: gradually stop watering and reduce the temperature to 13-15 degrees, depending on the composition of the collection and possibilities. This is only a temporary measure and it is necessary for plants to recover before the new season. As you understand, this is not about permanent keeping in a florarium at all.
Few people think about the fate of plants before they hit the shelves. Well, they grew them somewhere – there’s no need to know any more. Florarium with succulents is no different from other products – it is made for sale, which means that at this moment it must look attractive. Like floral bouquets, they are collected just before sale, as evidenced, for example, by the absence of a green plaque between the ground and the walls – in a transparent container, it appears rather quickly. This means that the seller has no time to make sure that the composition is non-viable – it’s the buyer’s problem.
Another point is the substrate components. Purchased soil labeled “for cacti” is not what they grow in nature. It is peat with a relatively suitable pH parameter. It is not suitable for succulents, and in a stuffy florarium, high organic content will only accelerate root rot. Collectors recommend the use of leaf soil, but it is not sold. It should be collected from the park or garden, where the fallen leaves decompose in the winter, and be sure to sterilize in an oven or microwave oven. In addition to leafy soil, you should use sand and preferably add chipped bricks. Would a retailer who has other plants in his assortment do this?
So when people ask about the care of a florarium with succulents, I have only one answer: no way. Transplant the succulents to normal conditions, and use the vacated container for suitable plants.