Starting over with the terrarium

Here it is when it was given to me in 2008.

I have always looked at plant failure as an opportunity, but I held out against replanting my terrarium for months. It looked … ok. At first, the fact that one of the succulent varieties was pretty much taking over the thing was fine. But eventually I had to recognize that the stems were browning at the bottom, making it impossible to prune them to healthy areas. After almost ten years, it was time.

Close-up with the tiny new plants

So everything got pulled out, and I put in a few new plants, still succulents. These are not necessarily recommended for terrarium planting, but I find that their hardy natures work well in that environment. Some years ago, I lined the edges with rocks, holding the cloche away from the base enough to let some air in, and get rid of condensation issues. Which it does.

Will I get another ten years from the new array? Maybe not—and that will be an opportunity to try some different plants. Maybe I’ll finally have to read my terrarium book.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Thanks for the reminder that starting over can be a very good thing.
    Nice painting on the wall! Who is the artist?

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