Candle lanterns make lovely containers for succulents. You might plant the succulents in a small pot and tuck it into the lantern, or if the lantern can hold soil, plant directly into it. Most aren't watertight---a good thing, because when you water the plants, the lantern will drain (leak).
Any time you display succulents under glass, you're literally "showcasing" them. A terrarium or planted lantern is reminiscent of a French-inspired, Victorian-era cloche---a glass box that holds treasures such as rare plants.
Select Your Lantern
You'll find dozens of potentially plantable candle lanterns on eBay and Amazon; and at thrift shops and home decor stores like Pier One and Home Goods. You needn't obtain the exact ones I used in my video Plant a Succulent Lantern, Five DIY Ideas (4:49) or for that matter, use the same kinds of succulents. But if you'd like to, I've provided sources below.
Choose a lantern style with openings for air circulation. If you like the idea of letting succulents trail out of a lantern, choose one with a door that can stay open (it opens from the side rather than the top).
For vining, cascading and pendant succulents perfect for hanging applications, see my book, Succulent Container Gardens.
There are two basic approaches: Plant a small pot and put it inside a lantern, or plant directly into the lantern.
If there's no area within the lantern to hold soil, you'll need to insert a container that does.
When planting directly into a lantern, for a cleaner, upscale look, don't let soil show through the glass. In my Plant a Succulent Lantern video, I slide succulents out of their nursery pots and arrange the plants in the center of a glass lantern, then I conceal their root balls with layers of crushed rock, pebbles and sand. These are visible through the glass, and they form pleasing striations that elevate the overall design.
Create an eye-catching lantern that's also functional by adding tiny, battery-operated, fairy string lights. Tuck the light string into the top of the lantern and secure the battery pack where it won't show.
I used extra-hold duct tape to attach the battery pack under the base of the lantern, making sure I could access the on-off switch. Since the battery pack is flat like a deck of cards, the lantern can still serve as a table centerpiece without falling over.
Succulents in the video
When you plant a succulent lantern, chose succulents that won't get overly large and that also play off the shape of the lantern. For example, in the video I show a round blue echeveria in a round verdigris (turquoise) lantern. And in my pyramidal lantern, the main plant is a dwarf aloe with triangular leaves.
The succulents came from Oasis Water Efficient Gardens nursery north of San Diego. Oasis is owned by Altman Plants, which sells online. Links below go to Altman's site or to another excellent mail-order succulent nursery: Mountain Crest Gardens.
Pyramid (triangular) lantern, 6.37 x 6.37 x 10.5 inches, $20 at Pier One
Black Windowpane Lantern, 5.6 x 5.6 x 10.6 inches, $35 at Pier One
Small rounded pebbles, $9 at Amazon.
Small black pebbles, $10 at Amazon.
White sand, $7 at Amazon.
Fairy string lights, warm white. They're sold as 2-packs, and each needs three AA batteries. $9 at Amazon.
Extra-hold duct tape. Match the tape to the color of your lantern or use clear.
The round verdigris lantern and the small glazed pots came from thrift stores or garden centers. I also used pumice and cactus-mix potting soil---any brand will do.
Display your planted lantern atop a patio table or hang it in a sheltered area outdoors or in a sunny indoor spot. Because glass can magnify ultraviolet rays, it should be in bright or dappled shade and not in full, hot sun.
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