Are you ready to take your indoor garden to the next level and infuse it with magic? Look no further if you’re seeking captivating ways to enhance those lush, dark green leaves. Terrariums, like compelling worlds encapsulated within glass jars, offer a unique opportunity to elevate your plant game and inject an artistic dimension into your living space. Let’s journey through the fascinating realm of terrariums, where hardy plants and decorative pebbles create miniature wonderlands that demand little but give so much in return.
As you delve into the enchanting world of terrariums, you’ll find various plants that thrive in these self-contained environments. From the charming Haworthia with its striking zebra-like patterns to the resilient and captivating Snake Plant and the interesting Venus Flytrap, each plant you choose adds another layer of texture and personality to your glass-bound garden.
Buckle up, plant enthusiasts, because we’re about to dive headfirst into the captivating world of terrariums! Get ready to uncover only one or two but a whopping 35 incredible terrarium plants, each with its hidden set of thriving conditions. This isn’t your average plant guide; this is your passport to creating vibrant, lush mini ecosystems that’ll leave your guests utterly mesmerized. So, without further ado, let the foliage-filled adventure begin!
Understanding Terrariums: Open and Closed Types
An open terrarium provides a unique environment for plants that like lower humidity and fresh air. It’s ideal for arid plants such as cacti, succulents, and jade plants.
The openness of these terrariums allows excess moisture to escape, so they’re excellent for plants that don’t need constant high humidity or prefer drier conditions.
In contrast, a closed terrarium creates a miniature ecosystem with a higher humidity. It seals the plant inside, creating consistently moist conditions that are optimal for specific categories of houseplants.
Closed terrariums support tropical fauna like artillery ferns, aluminum plants, and even polka dot and prayer plants flourish in these environments due to their preference for humid climates.
Golden pothos or baby tears are other terrific options that find this enclosed system conducive to their growth needs.
4 Essential Aspects of Terrarium Care
Terrarium care encompasses several essential aspects, including meeting the light requirements of the plants, ensuring proper ventilation within the enclosure, adhering to watering guidelines, and regularly pruning and cleaning the terrarium.
Understanding light requirements plays a pivotal role in shaping the health and success of your terrarium. Low to medium light is ideal for closed terrariums that mirror a humid environment.
These miniature ecosystems thrive best when they are not under direct sunlight as it tends to increase temperatures drastically, potentially causing harm to humidity-loving plants like Fittonia (Nerve Plants), Ferns, or Moss.
Open terrariums differ significantly in terms of their lighting needs. They can withstand more light exposure than their counterparts because they have lower humidity levels. Arid plants such as Cacti or Succulents love bright but indirect sunlight, which makes them perfect for open terrarium setups.
If you’re considering houseplants like Jade Plant placed in an open terrarium setting, ensure they get ample access to diffused light without unnecessary heat intensity.
Proper ventilation is vital for the overall health of your terrarium plants. Open terrariums inherently provide good airflow due to their design, favoring arid plants such as succulents and cacti.
However, closed terrariums, which are more suitable for humidity-loving plants, require more attention. It’s essential to occasionally open your sealed ecosystem to allow fresh air exchange and prevent an overgrowth of mold or bacteria.
Proper ventilation helps recreate the tropical climate many small indoor plants thrive in while controlling moisture levels can keep unwanted pests at bay.
Proper watering is a critical part of terrarium care. Whether you have an open or closed terrarium determines how often and how much water your plants need. Open terrariums generally require watering once a week, while closed ones may not need it more than every two to three weeks.
Succulents and other drought-resistant types thrive in dryer settings, making them unsuitable for enclosed ecosystems. Crucial to the process is soaking the soil enough so it’s moist but never sopping wet—overwatering can lead to root rot and other harmful conditions.
Between each watering cycle, let the top inch of your soil dry out to keep the proper moisture balance inside your little green haven.
Pruning and Cleaning
Pruning and cleaning play a crucial role in the care of terrarium plants. Proper pruning is essential to prevent plants from overcrowding and outgrowing the limited space within the terrarium.
Regularly trimming back growth helps maintain a balanced and visually appealing display. Additionally, cleaning is necessary for closed terrariums to prevent algae buildup on the glass or other surfaces.
This involves wiping down the inside of the container and removing any dead leaves or debris. By practicing routine pruning and cleaning, you can ensure that your terrarium plants stay healthy and vibrant for a long time.
Best Plants for Open Terrariums
Air plants, haworthia, jade plants, button ferns, string of pearls, Chinese money plants, creeping figs, Mexican snowball, and stonecrop are all great choices for open terrariums due to their low-maintenance needs and ability to thrive in drier environment.
Air Plants (Tillandsia spp.)
Air plants, or Tillandsia, are an excellent choice for open terrariums. These unique plants can tolerate higher humidity levels, making them well-suited for the enclosed environment of a terrarium.
One of the best things about air plants is that they don’t need soil to grow – they absorb nutrients and moisture through their leaves! This means minimal maintenance for you as a terrarium owner.
Simply misting them regularly will provide enough moisture for these low-maintenance beauties. With their exotic appearance and easy care requirements, it’s no wonder that air plants are a popular choice among terrarium enthusiasts.
- Tillandsia ionantha is one of the most common and colorful air plant species. It has vibrant green leaves that can turn various shades of red or pink when it’s about to bloom. Tillandsia ionantha is relatively small, making it perfect for terrariums. To care for it, mist or soak it in water regularly to keep it hydrated. Place it in bright, indirect light for optimal growth.
- Tillandsia xerographicahas striking, silvery-gray leaves that curl and twist as they grow. It’s larger than other air plant varieties, making it a stunning focal point in your terrarium. Mist or soak it in water once a week and provide bright, indirect light. Its unique appearance adds a touch of elegance to your terrarium display.
Haworthia (Haworthia spp.)
Succulents are an excellent choice for open terrariums because they can handle higher humidity levels. They are also low-maintenance plants that can add beauty to your terrarium display without much care.
One example of a succulent suitable for terrariums is the Haworthia, which thrives in bright indirect light and only needs to be watered infrequently.
Haworthia plants typically have rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves arranged in a spiral pattern. The leaves can vary in shape from pointed to round and may have smooth or textured surfaces. One of the defining features of many Haworthia species is their intricate and eye-catching leaf patterns. These patterns often include detailed white or translucent markings, stripes, and raised ridges, adding to their visual appeal.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
The Jade Plant, or Crassula ovata, is an excellent choice for open terrariums. This plant can tolerate high humidity levels, and its fleshy, oval-shaped leaves give it a unique appearance.
It prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. One of the great things about the Jade Plant is that it can be easily propagated from stem or leaf cuttings, making it a versatile addition to your terrarium.
Native to South Africa, Jade Plants are also known for their drought tolerance, making them low-maintenance options for your terrarium display.
Button Ferns (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Button Ferns (Pellaea rotundifolia) are highly recommended for open terrariums due to their preference for drier conditions. These ferns have unique round, button-shaped leaflets that give them their name.
When it comes to care, Button Ferns are relatively low-maintenance plants. They thrive in bright, indirect light and should be placed near a window or under fluorescent lights. As for watering, these ferns only need to be watered once the top inch of soil has dried out, making them an easy choice for hassle-free terrarium plants.
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
Prepare to be captivated by the whimsical beauty of the String of Pearls. With its delicate, spherical leaves trailing like a cascade of emerald beads, this plant adds an element of enchantment to any open terrarium. Its unique appearance and trailing growth habit make it a stunning centerpiece, evoking a sense of wonder and natural elegance.
Including the String of Pearls in your open terrarium will infuse your space with a touch of botanical artistry and create a captivating focal point bound to spark admiration and conversation among anyone who lives on it.
Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)
With its distinctive round leaves on long stems, the Pilea peperomioides has become an Instagram darling, and for good reason! This plant’s modern aesthetic and easy-care nature make it an ideal companion for your open terrarium, creating a visually appealing focal point that will spark conversations.
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)
Seeking a plant that can turn your terrarium into a living tapestry? Look no further than the Creeping Fig. Its small, heart-shaped leaves densely cover its trailing vines, creating a lush green carpet that adds a touch of wilderness to your open enclosure.
Mexican Snow Ball (Echeveria elegans)
Echeverias are rosette-shaped succulents with thick, fleshy leaves that come in shades of green, pink, purple, and even blue. They add a rosette-like centerpiece to your terrarium and can grow individually or in clusters.
Echeverias prefer bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering.
Sedums, also known as stonecrop, are versatile succulents in various sizes and forms. They often have trailing or spreading growth habits, making them great for adding dimension to your terrarium. Sedums are hardy and can tolerate various lighting conditions, but they generally prefer bright light. Allow the soil to dry partially between waterings.
Best Plants for Closed Terrariums
Some top choices for closed terrariums include peperomia, moss, nerve plants, ferns, polka dot plants, African violet, miniature begonia, aluminum plants, and earth star plants.
Peperomia (Peperomia pellucida)
Peperomia pellucida is a suitable plant for closed terrariums. It thrives in the humid environment that closed terrariums provide, making it an ideal choice. This low-maintenance plant grows well in consistently moist conditions, which makes it perfect for closed terrariums.
Peperomia Pellucida adds visual appeal to any terrarium display with its bright green leaves and compact growth habit. It can be combined with polka dot plants, golden pothos, and baby tears to create a beautiful and vibrant closed terrarium.
Moss is an excellent choice for closed terrariums because it can thrive in high humidity and moist environments. It creates a lush and natural look, making it perfect as a ground cover or decorative element.
One of the advantages of using moss in closed terrariums is that it requires less maintenance and watering than other plants. With their ability to absorb moisture from the air, mosses can create their microclimate within the terrarium.
This makes them ideal for creating a self-sustaining ecosystem where you don’t have to monitor the moisture levels constantly. So, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance yet beautiful addition to your closed terrarium, consider incorporating various types of moss into your design.
Nerve Plants (Fittonia albivenis)
Nerve Plants, also known as Fittonia albivenis, are ideal choices for closed terrariums. These plants thrive in high humidity and consistently moist conditions, making them a perfect fit for the sealed ecosystem of a closed terrarium.
Nerve Plants have a striking appearance with vibrant leaves that come in various colors and patterns, adding visual interest to your terrarium display. They are also relatively easy to care for, which makes them suitable for beginners or anyone looking for low-maintenance plant options.
With their humidity-loving nature and eye-catching foliage, Nerve Plants are an excellent addition to any closed terrarium setup.
Ferns are popular for closed terrarium displays because they can tolerate high humidity levels.
Lemon Button Fern and Silver Ribbon Fern are also great options due to their textured and visually appealing leaves. Once established in a closed terrarium, ferns require minimal maintenance, making them ideal for low-maintenance plant enthusiasts.
Not only do ferns add beauty to your miniature ecosystem, but they also create a lush and green display that adds visual interest to your terrarium.
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
The Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is a top choice for closed terrariums. Its vibrant leaves of various colors, including green, pink, magenta, white, and red, add a beautiful pop of color to any terrarium display.
This plant thrives in moist and warm environments, making closed terrariums the perfect home for them. The Polka Dot Plant is also easy to care for, making it an ideal choice for beginners or those who want low-maintenance plants in their terrariums.
African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
African Violets are compact flowering plants with attractive, fuzzy leaves and colorful blooms. They thrive in the humid conditions of closed terrariums and can add a pop of color to your miniature ecosystem.
African Violets are characterized by their rosette-shaped clusters of fuzzy, oval-shaped leaves. The leaves can range from deep green to shades of gray-green, with some varieties exhibiting variegation. However, it’s the blossoms that make African Violets truly special. The flowers come in various colors, including purple, blue, pink, white, and even bi-colors. They have a gentle, velvety texture and a slightly fragrant aroma.
Miniature Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
Miniature Begonias have stunning and colorful foliage patterns that thrive in humid environments. Their compact size makes them a perfect choice for closed terrariums.
Begonia rex-cultorum, often called Rex Begonias, is known for its stunning leaves. The leaves come in a wide range of colors, including various shades of green, pink, red, silver, and purple.
They often have intricate patterns with swirls, spots, streaks, and veins that add to their visual appeal. The leaves are typically large in relation to the plant’s overall size, making them the main focus of these begonias.
Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei)
Pilea cadierei, commonly known as the Aluminum Plant or Watermelon Pilea, is a popular houseplant known for its striking foliage and ease of care.
Pilea cadierei is prized for its distinct leaves, which have a unique pattern resembling watermelon rinds or aluminum markings. The leaves are typically dark green with silver stripes or markings that run along the veins, creating a striking contrast. The leaf shape is often oval or elliptical, and the overall growth habit is bushy and compact.
Earth Star Plant (Cryptanthus bivittatus)
Cryptanthus plants are known for their rosette-like growth habit, where the leaves form a tightly packed cluster in the shape of a star. The leaves can come in a wide array of colors, patterns, and sizes. Some species have smooth leaves, while others are adorned with intricate stripes, spots, or mottled patterns. The central leaves often have a contrasting color that can range from vibrant reds and purples to various shades of green.
Ideal Small Terrarium Plants
Ideal small terrarium plants include the strawberry begonia, miniature English Ivy, baby’s tears, miniature orchids, miniature peperomia, miniature fittonia, miniature snake plant, and tiny ferns.
Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera)
The Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) is a versatile plant that can thrive in closed and open terrariums. It tolerates average to high humidity levels, making it suitable for closed terrariums that require humidity-loving plants.
However, it can also adapt to less humid environments in open terrariums. This plant prefers partial or even full shade, making it perfect for areas with limited direct sunlight.
With its compact size and low maintenance needs, the Strawberry Begonia is an ideal choice for small terrarium displays. Regular watering is required to keep this plant happy and healthy.
Miniature English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Miniature English Ivy (Hedera helix) is perfect for small terrariums. It can thrive in both open and closed terrarium environments, making it versatile and easy to care for.
This plant prefers consistently moist conditions, so watering it every two to three weeks in a closed terrarium is important. Before adding Miniature English Ivy to a closed terrarium, check for any pests that could potentially harm the other plants in the ecosystem.
It’s a beautiful, low-maintenance option that adds lush greenery to your miniature tropical climate.
Baby’s Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
Baby’s Tears, also known as Soleirolia soleirolii, is one of the ideal small terrarium plants. This plant thrives in consistently moist conditions, perfect for closed terrariums.
With its small and delicate leaves, Baby’s Tears adds a lush and vibrant touch to any terrarium display. To create a visually appealing arrangement, it can be combined with other plants like artillery ferns, aluminum plants, polka dot plants, prayer plants, golden pothos, and ripple plants.
Closed terrariums containing Baby’s Tears should be watered every two to three weeks to maintain the moisture levels required by this lovely plant.
Miniature orchids are the perfect choice for small terrariums because of their compact size. These tiny plants add a touch of elegance and beauty to any terrarium with their delicate blooms.
They thrive in high humidity and indirect light, making them ideal for closed terrariums. Miniature orchids can be easily combined with other plants, such as succulents, air plants, and preserved mosses, to create stunning terrarium designs.
With their various colors and flower shapes, miniature orchids offer endless possibilities for creating unique and captivating displays in your terrariums.
Peperomias are compact and diverse plants with attractive foliage. They come in various leaf shapes, colors, and patterns, making them perfect for adding visual interest to terrariums. Their small size and ability to tolerate lower light levels make them well-suited for enclosed spaces.
Several popular Fittonia species and varieties have unique leaf patterns and color combinations. Common ones include Fittonia albivenis (with green leaves and white veins) and Fittonia verschaffeltii (with pink or red veins).
Fittonia naturally grows as a ground cover in the dense understory of rainforests. This habitat preference makes it well-suited for terrariums, as it thrives in the high humidity and low light conditions often found in enclosed environments.
Miniature Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii)
The Miniature Snake Plant, scientifically known as Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii or Dwarf Snake Plant, is a compact and hardy succulent well-suited for indoor spaces, including terrariums.
The Dwarf Snake Plant has a distinct appearance with its short, thick leaves that grow in a rosette pattern. The leaves are typically dark green and mottled with light green or gray-green bands that run horizontally across the leaves.
Tiny ferns typically have delicate fronds that can vary in shape, size, and texture. They often have a soft, feathery appearance and are known for their intricate leaf patterns. These ferns can range in color from bright green to deeper shades, adding various visual interests to terrarium designs.
Best Large Terrarium Plants
Spider plants, golden pothos, croton, prayer plant, calathea, spike moss, neanthe bella palm, rattlesnake plant, and maidenhair fern are ideal for large terrariums. Keep reading to learn more about these beautiful additions to your terrarium collection!
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider Plants, called Chlorophytum comosum, are ideal for large terrariums. These plants can tolerate high humidity levels and thrive in consistently moist conditions.
With their long arching leaves and spider-like plantlets that dangle from the stems, Spider Plants add a touch of beauty to any terrarium. They are visually appealing and low-maintenance, making them a fantastic option for those who want an attractive display without spending too much time on upkeep.
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is renowned for its ability to thrive in terrariums, making it an excellent choice for a beautiful, low-maintenance display. This plant can flourish in the controlled environment of a closed terrarium, where it can benefit from consistent moisture levels.
With its glossy, heart-shaped leaves and trailing vines, Golden Pothos adds a touch of elegance to any terrarium setup. Not only does this plant require minimal care, but it is also known for its indestructibility, making it perfect even for those with less experience in plant care.
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is a humidity-loving plant that thrives in closed terrariums. It can tolerate high humidity levels and prefers consistently moist conditions. This low-maintenance plant requires minimal watering and can be easily pruned to maintain its size and shape within the terrarium.
Croton plants come in various leaf colors and patterns, adding visual interest to your terrarium display.
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Prayer plants, known as Maranta leuconeura, are the perfect choice for closed terrariums. These tropical plants thrive in humid and greenhouse-like conditions, which can be easily created within a closed terrarium.
One of the fascinating aspects of prayer-plants is that they fold up their leaves at night, adding visual interest to your terrarium display. Another advantage is that these plants prefer consistently moist conditions, making them low-maintenance once established in a closed environment.
With their unique leaf patterns and colors, prayer plants will thrive and enhance your terrarium’s aesthetic appeal.
Calathea (Calathea spp.)
Calatheas are renowned for their stunning decorative leaves that exhibit captivating patterns and colors. These plants are well-suited for large terrariums because they prefer moderate to high humidity and indirect light.
Their unique leaf movements, which can open and close in response to light changes, add an element of interactivity to your terrarium. With varieties like the Rattlesnake Plant and Peacock Plant, you can introduce an artistic flair and a tropical feel to your terrarium display.
Spiked Moss (Selaginella rupestris)
Selaginella is a prehistoric plant that adds a primitive charm to a large terrarium. Its feathery, needle-like leaves create a dense carpet of green that evokes a sense of ancient landscapes. Selaginella thrives in high-humidity environments and is adaptable to lower light conditions, making it an ideal choice for adding texture and a primordial touch to your terrarium design.
Neanthe Bella Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
A miniature version of a classic palm tree, the Neanthe Bella Palm brings a tropical vibe to your terrarium. It prefers bright, indirect light and consistent moisture, making it a favorite among terrarium enthusiasts.
Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia)
Scientifically known as Calathea lancifolia, the Rattlesnake Plant showcases striking patterns on its leaves and is known for its ability to fold them upwards at night. It prefers low to medium light and high humidity, making it an intriguing addition to your terrarium.
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Known for its delicate fronds and graceful appearance, the Maidenhair Fern brings an elegant touch to your terrarium. It requires high humidity and indirect light, making it a perfect choice for recreating a lush, woodland-like environment.
8 Tips for Buying Terrarium Plants
When choosing plants for your terrarium, keep these tips in mind:
- Look for plants with similar growing requirements to create a harmonious environment within the terrarium.
- Consider the plant size and choose ones that will fit well in your terrarium without overcrowding.
- Check the plants’ light requirements and ensure they match the conditions in your home or office.
- Select plants known for their low-maintenance qualities to ensure easy care and longevity.
- Choose plants with interesting textures, colors, and shapes to create visual interest within your terrarium.
- Research the moisture needs of each plant and select ones that will thrive in either closed or open terrariums accordingly.
- Consider using tall and trailing plants to add dimension and depth to your terrarium display.
- If you need help deciding which plants to choose, consult a horticulturist or knowledgeable plant nursery staff for expert advice.
Are terrarium plants challenging to care for?
Terrarium plants are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for.
What type of light do terrarium plants need?
Terrarium plants require indirect sunlight or bright, filtered light.
How often should I water my terrarium plants?
The watering frequency depends on the plant type and the terrarium’s moisture level. It is important not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.
Can I use regular potting soil for my terrarium?
Using a specialized terrarium or succulent/cactus soil mix is recommended, as it provides proper drainage and prevents excess moisture buildup.
Should I fertilize my terrarium plants?
Fertilizing is unnecessary for closed terrariums, but a diluted liquid fertilizer can be used sparingly for open terrariums during the growing season.
Unveiling the perfect selection of terrarium plants is more than just a gardening pursuit – it’s an artful journey toward crafting an indoor oasis that’s both visually stunning and effortlessly sustainable. The quest for a striking, low-maintenance display begins with carefully considering the flora that will grace your terrarium’s miniature world.
What’s truly remarkable about this 35 selection of terrarium plants is their ability to flourish within their confined ecosystems, beckoning even those with the busiest schedules to partake in the joy of nurturing green life. The beauty of terrariums lies in their aesthetic appeal and the therapeutic ritual of observing life’s intricate dance within these self-contained biomes.
So, whether you lean towards the open expanse or the sealed secrecy, the world of terrariums eagerly awaits your touch. As you embark on this botanical journey, may your terrarium thrive as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of human creativity and the splendor of nature.
So go ahead, create your little green oasis, and enjoy the beauty of nature in any space!
Other Plant Guides from Planet Natural:
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.