If you want to grow the best terrarium plants, then you will be pleasantly surprised about your numerous choices. For beginners, it would be best to create a basic terrarium first then fill it with some plant varieties known to be low maintenance.
Go for terrarium plants that do not only look beautiful but are also quick and easy to grow, making them survive even if you are still a beginner in gardening. You may also want to give plants for closed terrariums a try as they almost do not need water while having the ability to grow for a long time with the least care.
What is a Terrarium?
If you are still unfamiliar with terrariums, then note that they refer to unique environments that make it possible for you to grow plant varieties that are not supposed to grow in the place you are in. A terrarium is usually small in size, which means that the plants you can grow inside it are also usually small.
A small terrarium also often comes in the form of a plant-filled glass jar or container that comes or does not come with a transparent lid. Generally, you can see it being decorated with mixed miniature plants, forming nice bubbles of greenery.
Whether the terrarium features succulents, tropical plants, or cacti, you can expect it to be self-contained. In other words, it is not that hard to care for. You just have to make sure that it receives the right amount of sunlight and water for the terrarium plant to grow for several years.
Types of Terrariums
If you are interested in growing terrarium plants, take note that it comes in different types. You can distinguish these types based on color, depth, and shape. The most common means of classifying terrariums, though, is their opening.
Open terrariums are those that come with large mouths or openings. The fact that it is open means that there is good ventilation. The right plants for it are usually those fond of the dry air while having the tendency to suffer when grown in humid spaces, such as succulents.
The closed terrarium features a tiny opening. It works perfectly for plants that tend to survive in areas with humidity. Among them are insectivorous plants and ferns, as well as plants derived from rainforests.
In addition to the openings, it is also crucial to consider the terrarium’s depth. Shallow ones are not compatible with plants that are not fond of making their feet wet, such as succulents. The reason is that stagnant water leads to root rot, eventually resulting in the death of the plants.
Some Ideas for Growing Terrarium Plants
In general, terrarium plants can be identified as slow-growing and small plants that you can house or enclose in a glass vessel or container. It is one of the fastest and easiest ways to surround yourself with plants and greenery if you are not that skilled yet in caring for houseplants.
The good thing about terrarium plants is that they can turn any indoor space into a place that is more inviting and livelier. You can also choose any size you want for your indoor plants. You can go for minimalistic and small terrariums or choose to use bigger containers or vessels to make a large terrarium.
For beginners, here are a few great ideas for starting your journey toward growing plants in your own terrarium:
- Utilize various glass vessels – Some of your choices are open globes, jars, bulbs, and cloche.
- Grow plants capable of thriving and surviving even in enclosed and tiny spaces, like terrariums – A few examples would be ferns, succulents, air plants, and carnivorous plant species.
- Integrate amazing decorative pieces in your terrariums – You can actually put some glass pebbles, driftwood, and seashells in there.
- Form aesthetically pleasing landscapes – You have a wide range of choices, including cacti dessert, mossy woodland, tropical jungle, and quirky fairy garden.
Now that you have some ideas when it comes to terrarium gardening, it is time to get to know more about the specific plants you can grow inside these containers.
Plants and Flowers that can Survive in Open Terrariums
If you are still a beginner, it would be best to start with open terrariums. These terrariums have the advantage of providing plants with better airflow. In addition, there is a lower risk of condensation, rot, and mold.
Remember that this type of terrarium requires an environment that is more arid. It is also suitable for plants that mainly require direct sunlight. Here are some great options:
As the name suggests, air plants, otherwise referred to as tillandsia, can live and survive even without potting soil. What they do is look for a host where they can attach themselves to live and survive.
After attaching to a host, their leaves start working efficiently when absorbing nutrients and water. With that, they are indeed among the best inclusions to your open terrarium.
They are also effective in purifying the air. Just put the air plant on top of driftwood. Alternatively, you can get a flat stone and use it as your base.
With their fleshy and thick foliage, many succulents also suit the open terrarium environment. There are so many reasons to love succulents – one of which is that they are low-maintenance plants.
They are capable of thriving even with scarce or limited water. Several succulent species can also remain small. This makes them live for several years inside a terrarium even if you do not transplant them.
Are you interested in forming a desert landscape within your chosen terrarium? Then cacti are among your best options. One thing to note about cactus plants is that they are not fond of the poor airflow and high humidity inside a closed terrarium. With that, ensure that your chosen container has a mid-size to large opening.
You can give your small open terrarium lush and light green foliage with a button fern. The button fern features slender and long brown stems decorated with oval leaflets. This plant is drought-tolerant and is also good to include in a dry terrarium.
Growing button ferns makes it possible to get that leafy look even if it is in a dry setting. You can also grow it even with insufficient watering. It is even possible to use the fern as a backdrop to your succulent plants, giving everything an incredible contrast.
By incorporating starfish plants in your terrarium, give it a marine feel and theme. This plant is capable of forming rosettes of wavy, pointed, and long glossy, and fleshy leaves.
These leaves also resemble starfish with purple-pink stripes on the exterior. You can also find dark green stripes in its center. It is such a charming and small plant that it can fit inside a salad bowl without losing its playful and lively appeal.
Plants and Flowers that can Grow in Closed Terrariums
One thing to note about the closed terrarium is that it is trickier and more challenging to maintain. Despite that, you will enjoy caring for the plants inside it. The fact that it is enclosed makes it capable of acting similarly to small and self-sustaining gardens.
Create your own closed terrarium with the aid of tropical plants, specifically the ones that are fond of heat and moisture. Just remember that these tropical plants tend to outgrow their small containers or vessels eventually, so be ready to transplant them once the time comes.
To give you an idea of the plants you can grow in closed terrariums, here are those guaranteed to live and survive inside them:
Moss is an incredible plant to grow in closed terrariums as it is slow-growing and can survive well in low light and sufficient moisture. It also has the advantage of not consuming a lot of vertical space. In addition, it does not seem to compete for nutrients when grown together with other plants.
Your best choices for this category include carpeting mosses, such as feather moss and java moss. The reason is that they seem to work well when it comes to layering your terrarium, which is a great way when it comes to providing it with a natural woodland appearance.
The nerve plant is also a great choice because it is one of those colorful tropical plants that can turn any terrarium into an attractive garden. Note that nerve plants prefer being in warm environments and temperatures.
They also need partial shade to full shade and love being in a spot with high humidity. One more fact about the nerve plant is that it can grow up to 10 to 15 cm. This size makes it ideal for the somewhat restricted confines of a closed terrarium.
Polka Dot Plant
The polka dot plants are also incredible additions to any miniature terrarium garden as they are very charming. The polka dot also loves moisture and warmth. You can also see the polka dot plants having dark green leaves dappled with red, white, purple, or pink.
The baby’s tears can be described as a trailing plant containing rich foliage that can drape over your closed terrarium. This gives a breathtaking visual effect, which also seems to connect the tiny garden inside a bottle to the space outside. This is a great way to highlight the aesthetics of your vessel.
You can expect the baby tears to make this possible with its branches containing many small round leaves in light emerald green. The baby tears need bright light, though, it should be indirect. Aside from the bright, indirect light, it is also crucial to regularly water this plant, ensuring that the soil does not go fully dry.
The false shamrock comes with three triangular leaves in dark and deep magenta shades that can add more appeal to your terrarium. You can find these leaves on every thin stem of these plants.
Get up close and you will notice these incredible-looking leaves featuring thin veins that resemble butterfly wings. You can also see them coming with delicate flowers in light pink-purple. They are visible above the plant’s foliage.
Low-maintenance and Miniature Plants
You also have an assurance that the following low-maintenance and miniature plants can survive in a terrarium:
You can also fill your miniature gardens with a native plant in Vietnam known as aluminum. Expect the aluminum plant to prefer being in low to medium light. It is also fond of warm temperatures.
The aluminum plant features leaves with iridescent or shiny white markings. It also grows quickly and is known for being easy to root. All you have to do is to get a small aluminum plant cutting then cultivate it in moist potting soil.
One of the most enchanting features of the prayer plant is its red vein. It also derived its name from the fact that it is capable of folding up its leaves during the night, resembling the act of praying.
There will also be an indication during those instances when the prayer plant does not get sufficient light – that is when its leaves remain folded even when it is already daytime.
Also, note that prayer plants favor warm temperatures, so avoid putting the terrarium holding it close to a chilly or cold draft or window.
You will not also regret putting golden pothos in your terrarium as this plant can add appeal to it. What’s so great about the golden pothos is that it is already recognized as an indestructible houseplant, which is also true when placed in a terrarium known for having a controlled environment.
Just make sure to prune your pothos regularly to prevent them from becoming unruly and ensure that it looks great for several years. You will also have an easier time propagating this if you root its stems in the water.
If you prefer miniature plants, choose the strawberry begonia. It is a good terrarium plant as its max growth is only around eight inches. You will also love the white, small, and star-shaped flowers it can produce during the late spring.
Another nice-looking plant you can incorporate into your terrarium is the creeping fig recognized for its tiny and variegated leaves shaped like a heart. This perennial climbing vine is one that you can train so that it will creep up structures, making even large terrariums look more attractive.
It is also one of those large plants in a terrarium that you can easily propagate. You can do the propagation if you root the branch cutting of the creeping fig in water.
The spider plant can add more charm to your terrarium with its narrow and long leaves with green and white stripes. It can survive the high humidity, making it ideal for most terrariums.
Just ensure you constantly observe the spider plant and check for the small plantlets it makes. Get rid of them immediately so they won’t take over your entire terrarium.
How to Care for and Grow Plants in a Terrarium?
When correctly and properly cultivated, most terrarium plants can be expected to be self-sustaining. However, you also have to care for them to guarantee that they will continue thriving for years. In that case, here are the things you should do and provide to your terrarium plants:
Excessive direct sunlight may put your terrarium plants’ stems and healthy green leaves at risk of burning. However, providing them with insufficient light may also result in mush. Expose your terrariums to bright, indirect light. Rotate them regularly so the exposure to bright indirect sunlight will be even.
Ensure that a closed terrarium has proper ventilation, allowing fresh air to penetrate. Good ventilation is necessary to protect your miniature garden from molds, specifically those that grow because of excessive humidity. It also helps to have your terrarium aired throughout the day then covered at night.
One fact about terrarium plants is that they only need minimal water. Some of them do not even need to be watered as they have this special ability to recycle their own water. If you have an open terrarium, make sure to water the plants once every week and only in small doses.
Avoid over watering by using a misting spray, eyedropper, or syringe. Also, be aware of the signs of overly frequent watering, like mushy, yellowing, or shriveled leaves. That way, you will know when to stop and fix the problem.
The good thing about a lot of terrariums is that they no longer require the application of fertilizer. However, you also must spend time observing your plants to immediately detect malnutrition signs.
In case your terrarium plants are malnourished, you can fertilize them but only do so sparingly. This will prevent you from stimulating rapid growth, which is not that good as being a vigorous grower is not that good and convenient for terrariums.
Make sure to use a weak fertilizing mixture if necessary. Use an all-purpose fertilizer for houseplants but stick only to one-fourth of the usual strength.
Part of caring for your terrarium plants is pruning. This will prevent you from having an overcrowded terrarium, one with plants that tend to fight for space. Prune regularly and get rid of all spent leaves and flowers. Avoid decomposing any part of the plant inside the terrarium as it may only lead to fungal infections.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can air plants survive in a closed terrarium?
No. You have to grow these plants in an open terrarium as they require proper air circulation, which a closed one can’t provide. It is completely sealed, which means that the air circulation needed by an air plant to thrive and stay healthy will be absent.
Will plants stay small inside a terrarium?
The answer to this will be dependent on the species. Some of these plants remain small while others grow into larger plants eventually, which may require you to transplant them.
How long do terrarium plants last?
There is a high chance for them to live for several years. Just make sure to maintain them and care for them to live longer.
Do terrariums need sunlight?
Yes. However, you also have to remember that plants inside closed or airtight terrariums can recycle air. Generally, the majority of terrariums require bright but indirect light, which is necessary in lowering the risk of burning plants.
Can carnivorous plants grow in terrariums?
Yes. Several carnivorous plant species seem to thrive well in terrariums. These include the Venus fly trap, cobra lilies, and pitcher plants. You need a container to turn a specific carnivorous plant into a terrarium. It is advisable to choose a smaller one, as this is what the plant prefers.
Should I clean my terrarium regularly?
Yes. Keep your glass container or terrarium clean to ensure the healthy growth of your plants. Just wipe off the debris from the inside and outside of your terrarium. The goal here is to prevent the glass from becoming too foggy or dirty; otherwise, the sunlight will have a hard time reaching your plants.
Cleaning these amazing decorative pieces is also necessary to prevent the buildup of algae or the development of fungus. Avoid using strong cleaning products inside your terrarium, though, as such may only cause damage to your plants. Go for mild and gentle ones guaranteed to be safe for plants.