Our Favorite Plants for Terrariums

The venus fly trap grows well in terrariums, like this Crosswinds tabletop terrarium. Image from Exotic Plants.

The venus fly trap grows well in a tabletop terrarium. Image from Exotic Plants.

Terrariums are all the rage. Pinterest is full of the most popular and clever combinations in an endless assortment of clear glass containers, ranging from re-purposed jars to the newest in commercially-available designs. Big or small, everybody loves a terrarium! Choosing the best plants for terrariums can be tricky for a first time indoor gardener, but those species that thrive in containers have a few common features, narrowing your choices a little.

Small Size: Selecting miniature plants for terrariums may seem like a no-brainer, but because many greenhouse plants flower or appear fully grown long before they’ve reached their full potential, it’s important to understand the size of that plant you’re considering before purchasing it. Terrariums can last many years if properly sized plants are chosen, but if the second-season growth of one of your plants is explosive, a small terrarium will be overwhelmed.

Humidity Tolerance: Terrariums are often very humid places because air circulation is poor in these mostly-closed vessels. Although a variety of semi-aquatic and rainforest plants prefer these conditions, other plants, like desert cacti, can’t handle this weather inside a terrarium over the long-term. Before you take that new plant home, make sure it loves humidity, or else start a dish garden for it and some friends that need a more arid environment.

Air plants are popular choices for hanging terrariums.

Air plants are popular choices for hanging terrariums.

Thermostat-Friendly: Even though most plants will grow at room temperature, not all will be at their best. Many species require very cold or very hot spells to induce dormancy or flowering. Without completing their natural cycles, these plants will slowly decline, forcing you to tear your terrarium apart to replace them sooner than their companions. If your initial selections can’t flower or rest at room temperature, you should keep shopping.

Shade Lovers: Unless you intend to artificially light your new terrarium with very bright florescent bulbs, the chances are that your plants will have to manage under low lighting conditions. Terrariums don’t do well directly in windows, all that glass can magnify ultraviolet rays and cook your plants! Lots of plants thrive in lower lighting conditions, just make sure to purposefully choose the ones that don’t need a daily sun bath.

Low Care: Some plants are prima donnas, demanding extra special care and purified water in small doses each day. One of the best things about terrariums is their ability to be somewhat self-sufficient – adding needy plants is right out. Forget the mini roses, the tiny orchids or anything else that needs to be pampered and stick with hardy, tough plants that complement your terrarium’s overall design.

With these factors in mind, here are some of our favorite terrarium plants:

Plants for Terrariums
Common Name Scientific Name
Rosary Vine Ceropegia woodii
Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum
Earth Star Cryptanthus bivittatus
Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula
Gold Dust Dracaena Dracaena godseffiana
Sundew Drosera spp.
Creeping Fig Ficus pumila
Hawthornia Hawthornia spp.
Shamrock Oxalis spp.
Watermelon Peperomia Peperomia sandersii
Dwarf Pomegranate Punica granatum nana
African Violet Saintpaulia ionatha
Strawberry Begonia Saxifraga stolonifera
Irish Moss Selaginella spp.
Airplant Tillandsia stricta
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *