Terrarium Plants: Best Plants for a Closed or Open Terrarium

Terrarium Plants

Emma DowneyByEmma Downey
Updated on 8/13/2022

Gardening enthusiasts, are you interested in bringing their outdoor gardens indoors? As a city slicker, do you seek green relief from the concrete jungle surrounding you? Terrariums can provide that.

Terrariums are glass jars in which mini plant ecosystems grow. Terrariums are not. Gardeners have taken to them in droves, and it's not hard to understand why. For starters, they require little maintenance. Moreover, they are small and easy to transport. Additionally, they make beautiful additions to any home.

Terrariums are self-contained, whether they contain succulents, cacti, or tropical plants. Providing they get enough sunshine and water, they're easy to care for. Plus, they live for years!

Choosing plants for your mini-ecosystem is crucial before you grab a glass jar and start growing your terrarium. Keep reading...

What Are Terrarium Plants?

Terrarium plants are small, slow-growing plants kept in a glass container. You can quickly surround yourself with greenery with houseplants, even if you're not proficient at taking care of them.

Adding terrariums to interior spaces can make them more lively and inviting. You can also choose a large or small size for them-they're very versatile.

To get you started, here are some terrarium plant ideas:

  • Utilize a variety of glass vessels, such as cloches, open globes, bulbs, and jars.
  • You can grow ferns, carnivorous plants, air plants, and succulents in your terrarium. These plants thrive in compact spaces.
  • Landscapes range from mossy woodlands to whimsical fairy gardens to cacti deserts and tropical jungles.
  • You can decorate your little plant world with seashells, glass pebbles, and driftwood.

Here are the best plants for terrariums

Terrarium plants should be small and slow-growing as a general rule of thumb. You don't want them to touch the vessel's edges.

Other than that, terrarium plants come in endless varieties, so which one should I choose? Simple. Whether you have an open or closed terrarium, you can select the best plants.

For plants that need dry conditions, open terrariums are ideal. They are perfect for succulents, air plants, and cacti.

 

Terrariums with a closed lid have their mini climate. It is best suited to plants that love moisture and heat, like ferns, mosses, and orchids.

You should make sure your plants have similar light and moisture requirements since they share a habitat.

Open Terrarium Plants

You can get started with open terrariums. Using them will increase airflow for your plants, and you won't have to worry about condensation. Plus, mold and rot are less likely to occur.

You will need a more arid environment for plants in terrariums. Plants that require direct sunlight will also thrive in these containers.

Plants that do well in open terrariums include:

Tillandsia (Air Plants)

Tillandsia (Air Plants)

There is no need for soil for air plants to thrive. They attach themselves to hosts and take up water and nutrients from their leaves for survival. They are not only beautiful additions to terrariums, but they also clean the air!

A flat stone or driftwood can be used as a base for an air plant. 

Succulents

Succulents

The leaves of succulents are thick and fleshy. These plants are perfect for those who have difficulty remembering to water their plants. They thrive on small amounts of water. A succulent plant can live for years in a terrarium if it stays small.

A succulent's roots will rot if they are overwatered. They should be watered once a week at most.

Pallaea Rotundifolia (Pallaea Rotundifolia)

Pallaea Rotundifolia (Pallaea Rotundifolia)

In contrast to other members of the fern family, button ferns are drought-tolerant. This plant's beautiful leathery leaves and evergreen nature have made it a popular terrarium plant.

During the summer, button ferns prefer subdued light, while they prefer bright, indirect light during the winter.

Cacti

Cacti

Get cacti for your terrarium if you want a desert scene! Closed terrariums with high humidity and poor airflow are not conducive to growing these plants. Therefore, make sure the container has a medium to a large opening.

Open terrariums look amazing, but cacti do not last very long. Their needs are airflow and low humidity. 

Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)

Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)

As bonsais for terrariums, jade plants are usually manicured, and an open terrarium is the best choice since they need frequent watering. It is a good rule of thumb to water your jade plants just before the topsoil becomes dry.

Place a jade plant atop your work table because it is considered a symbol of good luck.

Closed Terrarium Plants

The maintenance of closed terrariums is a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, they are worthwhile. In addition to being enclosed, they function as self-sustaining gardens.

Plants like moisture and heat can be used to create a closed terrarium. It is important to remember that tropicals will eventually outgrow their vessel, so you will need to transplant them.

You can grow these easy-going plants in a closed terrarium:

P. pellucida (Peperomia)

P. pellucida (Peperomia)

Low-growing, compact plants are found in the Peperomia genus. While some have green leaves, others have leaves that are blushed with red or white. Humidity is the key to their success.

Peperomia is home to over a thousand species, so there are many options to choose from!

Moss

Moss

Terrariums with closed doors and mosses are a great combination. It's because they prefer moisture and low light. Additionally, they don't compete with the other plants for space or take up much vertical space.

The best way to give your terrarium a natural woodland look is to layer carpeting mosses like Java and feather moss. 

The Nerve Plant (Fittonia)

The Nerve Plant (Fittonia)

A nerve plant is a colorful tropical plant. The plant prefers hot, humid temperatures and partial to full shade.

They grow to a maximum height of ten to fifteen centimeters, making them perfect for the confines of a terrarium.

Ferns

Ferns

Ferns grow best in a warm, moist environment in a closed terrarium. Lemon button ferns and maidenhair ferns are popular small ferns. Please keep them in your terrarium to add volume.

The best way to grow fuller ferns is to prune them regularly.

Polystachya phyllostachya (Hypoestes Phyllostachya)

Polystachya phyllostachya (Hypoestes Phyllostachya)

A delightful polka dot plant will add cheer to your terrarium. Featuring pink, purple, red, or white dots on green leaves, this warmth- and the moisture-loving plant thrives in warm, moist conditions.

Note: The plant produces tiny lavender flowers in the summer under favorable conditions.

Small Terrarium Plants

Terrarium plants aren't just immature versions of larger plants but are pretty small plants. Terrariums are the perfect place for them since they have small leaves and a slight growth habit.

As long as they are adequately cared for, they won't outgrow the space. Consider these small terrarium plants:

Saxifraga Stolonifera (Strawberry Begonia)

Saxifraga Stolonifera (Strawberry Begonia)

The strawberry begonia is a perfect plant for terrariums. But why? They grow no higher than 8 inches, and a star-shaped flower appears in late spring.

Miniature Orchids

Miniature Orchids

A terrarium filled with miniature orchids is a joy to watch bloom! These plants prefer humid and warm environments, doing well in closed terrariums.

The most accessible types of orchids for your closed terrarium are miniature jewel orchids and miniature phalaenopsis.

Miniature English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

Miniature English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

Small, pointed, dark green leaves characterize the miniature version of the English ivy. The vine proliferates and is easy to grow. You can use it as ground cover by allowing it to creep across the base of the terrarium.

The plant is small-leaved and grows at a slower rate than other types of ivy. It will need regular pruning, however.

(Soleirolia soleirolii) Baby's Tears

(Soleirolia soleirolii) Baby's Tears

The leaves of this plant are rounded and need to be pruned frequently. Ground cover plants have tiny, vividly green leaves that form mats. You can tuck the plant into any terrarium, and it will remain small.

Bonsai

Bonsai

Neither open nor closed terrariums are suitable for bonsai plants, and these plants' reduced root systems and diminutive habits make them ideal for terrariums. Closed terrariums are suitable for tropical species such as ficus or aralia.

If you give your bonsai a little fresh air now and then, they will thrive.

Large Terrarium Plants

You can plant large terrarium plants in an open or large terrarium. Plants in terrariums will need frequent pruning to prevent them from growing outside.

Terrariums with large plants require extra work, but they are worth it. Your garden-in-a-glass will be truly unique because they are rare and because they make it stand out.

Check out these large terrarium plants:

Chilorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Chilorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Plants with spider-like leaves can add a touch of glitz to your terrarium because of their long, narrow, green, and white stripes. These plants thrive in high humidity and are terrarium-friendly.

Keep an eye out for the tiny plantlets the plant produces. Ensure that they do not spread throughout the terrarium.

DIONAEA MUSCIPAL (Venus Flytrap)

DIONAEA MUSCIPAL (Venus Flytrap)

Venus flytrap will thrive in the humid conditions because of its wetland and marshy history. Add moss and sand, keep the plant moist, and give it full sun to bring out its deep red hues.

Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos)

Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos)

Even if you forget to water it occasionally, this climbing plant is one of the easiest to grow in a terrarium. The leaves are heart-shaped and can be yellow, white, or pale green.

The plant prefers moisture and warmth but is extraordinarily adaptable to various conditions.

You will have to prune the vine to keep it in check since it is an aggressive grower.

Codium variegatum (Croton)

Codium variegatum (Croton)

Adding Croton to your terrarium is a great way to add a splash of vibrant color. They prefer light and work best in open terrariums.

Praying Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Praying Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

It gets its name because the leaves fold up every night, like a prayer. Warm, well-watered conditions are preferred, and it can grow to 12 inches tall.

A plant that does not receive enough light will have folded leaves even during the day.

Terrarium Plant Care

Plants in terrariums can sustain themselves if they are planted correctly. However, a little care and attention can go a long way, especially initially.

The following points should be remembered:

Terrarium Light

The leaves and stems of plants can be burned by too much sunlight. Conversely, too little sunlight results in mush. Plants in terrariums should be exposed to bright, indirect light.

Ensure even sunlight exposure by rotating the terrarium regularly.

The Ventilation of a Terrarium

Ventilate your closed terrarium occasionally to let fresh air in. The over-humidity in your mini-garden can also cause mold to grow.

Terrariums should be aired during the day and covered at night.

Terrariums need to be watered.

Watering isn't necessary for an enclosed terrarium. Its own water is recycled. An open terrarium may require weekly watering in small amounts. To avoid over-watering, use a syringe, eyedropper, or misting spray.

Leaves that have shrunk? It's watering time. Leaves that are yellowing or mushy? You've over-watered yourself.

Pruning

Nothing is more unpleasant than an overcrowded terrarium with plants vying for space. As a result, prune on a regular basis. Remove any fallen flowers or leaves. Decomposition of plant pieces in the container might lead to fungal diseases.

Fertilizing

Fertilizer is not required in most terrariums. Fertilize your plants sparingly if they look to be starved. The last thing you want to do in a terrarium is encouraged rapid development!

Use a weak mixture (one-fourth strength) of an all-purpose houseplant food when fertilizing.

Cleaning

Wipe down the inside and outside of the container to keep it clean. Light will have a tougher time reaching your plants if the glass is dirty or cloudy. Clean the decorative elements as well, as they may accumulate algae or fungi.

Tip: Avoid using harsh cleaning agents within the terrarium. They may cause harm to your plants.

Terrarium Plants: Where to Buy

Terrarium plants have been popular for several years. With their growing popularity, they may be found in almost every garden store, nursery, and florist shop.

If you don't find what you're searching for there, or if you want a wider selection, there are many of stores online that sell terrarium plants.

If you're looking to acquire terrarium plants, consider the following options:

Plants for Terrariums and Fairy Gardens

Red Polka Dot Plant, Sansevieria Hahnii, Furcrlaera, Baby Rubber Plant, and Parlour Palm are among the plants you'll find. Seven to eight 4 to 6 inch terrarium and fairy garden plants are included in each set.

 

Climber Vine Terrarium Plant

Climbing vines can be used to vertically scape your terrarium. They come in a variety of colors, including green, red, and brown, and can brighten up any tiny garden. String of Pearls (Curio Rowleyanus), Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Zebrina), Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus Radicans), and Baby Tears are some terrarium-friendly vines (Soleirolia Soleirolii).

Mini Terrarium Plants

Terrarium-friendly plants include Friendship Plant, Spider Fern, Golden Clubmoss, and Strawberry Begonia. When choosing plants, make careful to pick ones that will thrive in the habitat you're constructing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to buy terrarium plants?

Start by looking at options at your neighborhood nursery. Terrarium plants can also be purchased online.

How to make terrarium plants?

Making terrarium plants is simple and enjoyable. All you'll need is a glass container for your little garden, potting soil, and the plants you wish to grow. Decorate your terrarium with pinecones, stones, and seashells to express your creativity.

What are terrarium plants?

Simply put, terrarium plants are small, slow-growing plants. Plants like Peperomia, Nerve Plant, and Pothos fall into this category.

What are good terrarium plants?

Plants for terrariums should typically be small. They should also grow slowly. You don't want them to touch the container's sides. In your terrarium, succulents, ferns, and air plants are great.