by Tina Haver Currin
This holiday season, consider a gift that keeps on giving – and growing. Megan George started her terrarium business, The Zen Succulent, three years ago this past November. Alongside her mother, Margaret George, she creates small terrariums with North Carolina-grown plants and a special potting mix that, with a bit of care, promises to host a thriving garden for years to come.
After graduating from UNC-Greensboro with a business degree in 2011, George began making terrariums to brighten up her home. “I always loved to bring greenery indoors,” she says. “Of course, in North Carolina winters, we can’t have tropical succulents and ferns outdoors. So, I began making these little gardens inside.”
Her friends started asking to give the creations as gifts, so George opened an Etsy store and enlisted the help of her mother, a scientist by day, to fulfill orders at night. Last year, the pair sold 400 terrariums throughout the holiday season, and she expects they’ll surpass that number this year.
The terrariums, which cost between $15 and $75, are colorful, modern gardens arranged to be both visually pleasing and easy to care for. George assembles the terrariums from elements natural to her environment, so the gardens are richly associated with Raleigh and North Carolina. She begins with gravel for drainage, and then adds a bit of charcoal to keep the terrarium fresh (not stinky) in case of overwatering. Another layer of potting soil comes next, and then the plants.
George grows many of the succulents herself, but to keep up with demand, she also sources from family-run J & C Greenhouses out of Princeton, an hour southeast of Raleigh. Those plants, which can also be found at the State Farmers Market, have been grown by Jerome and Connie Pittman for 30 years.
While Zen terrariums can be purchased at boutique retailers like Deco and Edge of Urge, they’re also shipped coast-to-coast. George says she’s shipped as far as Alaska and Hawaii, and is proud to share North Carolina’s homegrown greenery far and wide.
If you send a terrarium as a gift, the recipient will receive ingredients and directions for assembly. “You’re not making a Zen Succulent terrarium,” George says, “you’re making a Kathy terrarium, a Bill terrarium. You’re adding your own flavor, with our instruction.”
George credits her parents, who have always grown indoor flora, with her green thumb.
“Some people have folk legends, or recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. For me, it’s been the knowledge of indoor plants,” she says. “We not only want to provide products to people, but to give them that knowledge, so they can take care of their plants and love them for years to come.”
Zen Succulent terrariums can be purchased in Raleigh at Edge of Urge, Ramble Supply Co., and Deco, or ordered online at thezensucculent.com.