Top 10 Plants To Grow In A Terrarium

Written by Gabrielle Smith

Having a miniature version of almost everything can add a cute and quirky touch to your home! - If you love plants and want to add a unique and customizable piece, terrariums are the way to go!

Where does the term terrarium come from? The word first came up in the 1800s from the word ‘aquarium’, substituting the ‘aqua’ which means water to the ‘terra’ which means land.

Terrariums are tiny plant ecosystems that grow in a sealed container like a glass bottle or jar. However, make sure there is a way to unseal the container to ensure accessibility for maintenance.

The sealed container creates a (mostly) self-sufficient ecosystem in which the plants water themselves through condensation and transpiration.

If you live in an area where garden space is sparse, creating your own terrarium gives you the flexibility and freedom to design your own miniature garden without the necessary outdoor space. Below is a list of 10 different plants that would work perfectly in terrarium conditions.

01. AIR PLANTS

The Air Plant is a unique, and easy to care for houseplant that requires absolutely no soil!

The Air Plant is perfect for a terrarium of succulents and other plants that do not have complicated water needs. This plant will add a ‘desert’ like element to your terrarium. 

Air Plant Lighting Needs: The Air Plant requires filtered sun. This means that your Air Plant should only be placed in direct sunlight for a maximum of one hour a day. For the remainder of the day, ensure your plant is receiving indirect sunlight through a thin curtain. 

Air Plant Water Needs: Since your Air Plant does not have any soil, watering this plant is a one of a kind process. In order to water your Air Plant, you must place it in a bowl of water and allow it to soak for up to 3 minutes. Once the 3 minutes is up, place your Air Plant upside down to allow the remaining water to drip off the plant. Repeat this process about once a week. 

02. GOLDEN POTHOS

The Golden Pothos is also known as the Pothos Devil’s Ivy.  This plant has heart shaped leaves that sports bright green leaves with gold, cream, and yellow variegation.

In addition to its low maintenance, the Golden Pothos propagation is one of the easiest to undergo, allowing it to be easily added to any terrarium.

Once added to your terrarium make sure you regularly prune your Golden Pothos to ensure it doesn’t overtake other plants in your miniature garden.

Golden Pothos Lighting Needs: The Golden Pothos light needs include indirect sun. Indirect or filtered sun is when sun exposure is filtered through a sheer curtain to protect your plant from direct sun rays.

Golden Pothos Water Needs: The Golden Pothos only requires a ½ a cup of water or until the first inch of soil is moist every 10 days. When the soil feels dry one to two inches below the surface, it is time to water your plant. Allow adequate drainage to prevent root rot.

03. BUTTON FERN

Button Ferns are popular among plant parents for their ease of care and relative rarity.

Hailing from New Zealand, this drought-resilient plant appears delicate with its tiny green leaves that resemble buttons. 

 If you happen to find one of these in your local plant store, it's worth the purchase.

Button Fern Lighting Needs: The Button Fern plant requires indirect or filtered sun. Filtered sun exposure is when sun exposure is being filtered through a sheer curtain or is not able to have the sun's rays directly hit the leaves of your plant. The ideal location for your plant if it requires bright indirect light will be about 5 feet away from a southern or western-facing window. This will provide a touch of direct light for no more than 1 hour a day before that direct exposure is once again obstructed.

Button Fern Water Needs: Button Ferns grow best if watered weekly, leaving time for the soil to dry a bit in between. Be sure not to over-water your plant as this can cause root rot and yellowing of leaves.

04. STRING OF PEARLS

The String Of Pearls is the perfect household plant. They are a vining plant that grows adorable looking little spheres along the length of the vine. The little spheres look delicate like a string of pearls which is how they got their name!

This succulent is perfect for a terrarium due to its beautiful appearance and low maintenance with minimal watering needs

String of Pearls Lighting Needs: Native to Southwest Africa, the String of Pearls is used to dry, desert-like conditions where it grows as a ground covering. Therefore, the perfect sun exposure for this plant is filtered sun. Filtered sun is when the plant receives indirect light for the majority of the day through a western or southern facing window. 

String of Pearls Water Needs: As with most succulents, the String Of Pearls doesn't like to be overwatered! Make sure you have a pot that drains water at the bottom. You should water your String Of Pearls whenever the pot of soil is completely dry.

05. DONKEY TAIL PLANT

The Donkey Tail Plant is also known as the Burro’s Tail or Horse’s Tail due to its thick and cascading appearance.

If you're looking for a hanging plant to liven up your terrarium or add some vertical decoration to the tiny garden, the Donkey Tail Plant is for you.

These succulents are easy to care for and make a great choice for plant parents of all experience levels.

Donkey Tail Plant Lighting Needs: The Donkey Tail Plant prefers partial shade light. Partial shade is achieved when your plant is able to receive between 3-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. These hours of sun exposure should occur during the early hours of the morning, this will relieve your plant from the intensity of afternoon sun! You should place your plant in an eastern-facing window to provide it with the partial shade it needs to thrive!

Donkey Tail Plant Water Needs: Like most succulents, the Donkey Tail Plant does not require much water. It is best to water your plant with about ½ a cup of water (or until the top inch of soil is most) every other week, allowing the soil to dry completely before watering again. The minimal water needs of the Donkey Tail Plant make it perfect for the terrarium setting. 

06. SEMPERVIVUM RUBY HEART

The Sempervivum Ruby Heart also known as ‘Hens and Chicks’ is a beautiful, low-maintenance succulent.

The Sempervivum Ruby Heart boasts bright red and pink leaves when matured. This succulent has a unique quality where its leaves become more vibrant in the cooler weather but beware, if your Sempervivum Ruby Heart begins to bloom and flower.

Once your Sempervivum Ruby Heart blooms it will die soon after. If you're looking for a succulent with a splash of color to add to your terrarium, the Ruby Heart is a great pick!

Sempervivum Ruby Heart Lighting Needs: Native to Europe and West Asia, the Sempervivum Ruby Heart thrives in direct sun. Direct sun is the most intense form of light that your plant will receive from indoors as they will be directly exposed to the sun's rays in this spot. The ideal location for your plant will be in front of, or within 2-3 feet from a southern or western-facing window. This will allow direct exposure to the sun's rays!

Sempervivum Ruby Heart Water Needs: Sempervivum 'Ruby Hearts' don't require much watering. Like most succulents, these plants are drought-tolerant and can withstand long periods of time without being watered. Watering your plant with about 1 cup of water or until the top inch of soil is moist every two weeks during the spring/summer growth season will be sufficient. In the colder months, the Sempervivum ‘Ruby Hearts’ does not need to be watered as often and reducing in winter should be sufficient.

07. JADE PLANT

Want to add some good luck to your terrarium? The Jade Plant, also known as the Money Plant or the Lucky Plant is the perfect low maintenance succulent that is said to bring luck to its owner.

Although native to South Africa, the Jade Plant is recognized as a symbol of wealth and luck in many cultures such as in Japan and China. This resilient plant requires a lot of sunshine and minimal watering making it the perfect addition to a drier climate terrarium.

Jade Plant Lighting Needs: The Jade Plant requires indirect sun! Indirect Sun or Filtered Sun is when sun exposure is being filtered through a sheer curtain or is not able to have the sun's rays directly hit the leaves/flowers of your plant.The perfect location to ensure your Jade Plant is receiving as much sun as possible is in front of or about 2 to 3 feet from a western or southern facing window.

Jade Plant Water Needs: Like most succulents, the Jade plant stores water in its leaves and therefore does not require a frequent watering schedule. Only water your Jade Plant once every two weeks, or until the top 2 inches of soil are completely dry. Water your Jade Plant with ½ cup of water or until the top inch of soil is moist.

08. PADDLE LEAF ANTHURIUM 

The Anthurium coriaceum also known as the Paddle Leaf Anthurium gets its name from its long, paddle-shaped leaves that have a matte-like finish!

These plants are beautiful and fuss-free, making them perfect for a terrarium. However, due to its need for air circulation, the anthurium coriaceum can only be added to a terrarium that has an open top. No matter what kind of plant parent you are, this is an awesome plant to add to your indoor garden!

Paddle Leaf Anthurium Lighting Needs:
The perfect conditions for an Anthurium coriaceum is indirect or filtered sunlight. Indirect or filtered Sun is when sun exposure is being filtered through a sheer curtain or the sun's rays are not able to directly hit the leaves of your plant. The ideal location for your plant if it requires bright indirect light will be about 5 feet away from a southern or western-facing window. This will provide a touch of direct light for no more than 1 hour a day before that direct exposure is once again obstructed.

Paddle Leaf Anthurium Water Needs: The Anthurium coriaceum will need watering regularly during its growing season (often lasts 3 months during spring/summer season). Your Anthurium coriaceum will need a drink when its top one-two inches of soil has dried out. Water your plant with 1 cup of water or until the top inch of soil is most. Make sure you plant your Anthurium coriaceum in terrarium with drainage holes to avoid rotting their roots!

09. ALOE VERA

Aloe Vera is a classic houseplant that can be found in the majority of plant lovers' homes.

Low maintenance with vast medicinal benefits, including healing burns and cuts as well as increasing white blood cells, the Aloe plant is the perfect addition to your terrarium. 

Aloe Vera Lighting Needs: The Aloe plant requires full sun exposure. Full sun exposure is when your plant receives direct sunlight at least 4 hours a day. The perfect location for your Aloe is near a southern or western facing wall.

Aloe Vera Water Needs: The Aloe plant has basic water needs and should only be watered every 20 to 28 days.The Aloe Plant will suffer if watered too often so be sure to only water your Aloe plant once the soil is starting to become dry.

10. GHOST PLANT

The Ghost Plant, also known as the Mother-of-Pearl plant, gets its namesake from its pinkish-gray appearance.

This succulent has become quite popular among gardeners and crafters alike due to its unique appearance.

The Ghost Plant is perfect for a terrarium; but make sure to not plant it too close to another Ghost Plant in order to ensure air circulation is sufficient.

Similar to other succulents, the amount of light exposure can affect coloration. Keeping your Ghost Plant in a shadier location will create a bluish-grey color - a sunnier spot will produce a blush hue.

Ghost Plant Lighting Needs: The optimal sun exposure for the Ghost Plant is partial shade.Partial shade is achieved when your plant is able to receive between 3-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. These hours of sun exposure should occur during the early hours of the morning, this will relieve your plant from the intensity of afternoon sun! You should place your plant in an eastern-facing window to provide it with the partial shade it needs to thrive!

Ghost Plant Water Needs: Ghost Plants only need watering once every two weeks. Use about ½ a cup of water or until the top inch of soil is moist. Make sure the soil dries out between watering, and be sure to only water around the plant, not in its center.

Want more plant care information? For support with watering, sunshine, and other requirements use the Flora App for updates and tips.