You’re growing a tiny terrarium in your garden but don’t know which species to add…
WE’VE BEEN THERE!
It’s so common to try and fill it up with just any plant. But the reality is, not every plant will thrive inside a terrarium.
That’s why you need to know about the best terrarium plants – those that will THRIVE.
These are perfect for a terrarium because they:
- Require little to no sun exposure
- Grow well in warm environments
- LOVE humidity and condensation
- Look amazing regardless of location
- Are weird enough to match a terrarium’s feel
Did we mention they match both small and large terrariums?
There’s literally no drawback to considering the plants below. Check them out!
23 Best Closed Terrarium Plants to Consider
#1. Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
Let’s start with an obvious one –Baby’s Tears.
Its name comes from the EXTRA-TINY leaves. They are like a baby’s tear…
But it’s also because it is dense, forming small beds of the plant wherever you plant it (ground or pot).
What makes it an excellent terrarium plant is its love for humidity and the hate for the sun. You need to keep it moist and under shade AT ALL TIMES.
WHAT TO KNOW: You’ll see purplish flowers in the spring given the right conditions (THESE FLOWERS ARE TINY AND DENSE TOO)
#2. Butterwort (Pinguicula Vulgaris)
The Butterwort comes instantly to mind when we think of terrarium plants. It’s just PERFECT.
The Butterwort is a carnivorous plant. Its flesh is sticky, as you can imagine, making it easier to capture insects that stand on it.
You will need to ensure a lot of humidity (it loves close to rivers and swamps in the wild) and decent sun exposure.
WORTH A LOOK: A purple flower stays high up to 12 inches from the plant to add an extra touch of beauty.
#3. Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Its curious name comes from the shape of its leaves. Small button-like waxy leaves that sprout from long stems to the sides.
You will love the simple look it offers, almost totally different from what a fern “should be.”
Because it’s native to tropical areas, it also prefers high wetness. You will need a humid environment with temperatures over 65-degrees Fahrenheit if you want it to thrive. In contrast with other ferns, this one can resist a bit of drought.
WORTHWHILE FACTS: It doesn’t grow more than 30 inches, so you can use it as a great addition to any terrarium.
#4. Creeping Fig (Ficus primula)
People use the creeping fig as a vine for their walls, pergolas, and other structures. But that also means you can make it work inside a greenhouse or terrarium with no issues.
Its small variegated leaves growing from the creeping branches are cute. The thick stems eventually grow to a couple of feet. And with enough sunlight and humidity, they boast a gorgeous dark green.
This one is less of a humidity lover than other terrarium plants. But it’s still worth keeping it moist.
ALSO CONSIDER: The plant ATTACHES any structure around (be it a wall or cabana), so you need to be careful when you place it – as it DOESN’T DETACH later on.
#5. Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Few plants boast leaves as beautiful as the croton. The botanical name “Codiaeum variegatum” tells you exactly why…
Its bicolored leaves with green and salmon tones are impossible to dismiss. Some variations are golden to brownish. Either way, you will get a super-colorful and striking plant.
And lastly, it can handle partial shade and high humidity if necessary. Plus, its fleshy leaves look stunning indoors.
BE CAREFUL: The plant is COMPLETELY POISONOUS. Its toxicity makes for a bad garden plant from the stems to the leaves and roots (keep it in a terrarium instead).
#6. Echeveria (Echeveria)
Now we start with the actual terrarium succulents. This time, it is the echeveria.
You will find it surprisingly good-looking with various colors – from purple to green, reddish, orange, and even yellow leaves.
As for its growth needs, it prefers dry environments over moist ones and high sunlight exposure. But it tolerates humidity and shade in the right conditions (it may not grow too much, though).
INTERESTING FACT: The plant is not cold-hardy at all. Temperatures under 20 degrees Fahrenheit will make it lose its leaves until it gets warm again.
#7. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
They may look similar to echeveria plants – but they’re not the same.
Hens and chicks have thinner leaves and grow uniquely. The name comes from the ability of the “hen” plant to produce TONS of chicks in its lifetime. A typical Sempervivum can have over a hundred chicks and extend to several feet in diameter.
It will thrive on terrariums because it resists dry and relatively moist environments with little issues.
IMPORTANT PART: You can enjoy a flower growing from the main plant in the spring. This flower can grow to over 18 inches high and feature the weirdest of shapes.
#8. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
That’s why the lucky bamboo can be the perfect alternative. It rarely grows over 4 feet in height and produces tiny cute leaves as it grows. Moreover, the stem is not thick and solid like most bamboos but fleshy and soft.
You will need temperatures of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit for it to thrive. And sure enough, it doesn’t mind high humidity.
DON’T FORGET: Its stem may twist and get to rare shapes to add up to your terrarium’s uniqueness.
#9. Moss (Selaginella sp.)
Terrariums are typically wet, warm, and rocky. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT MOSS LIKES.
There are HUNDREDS of moss species, though. You will have a vast array to choose from.
Either way, moss will grow anywhere its ability to creep around or stay within confinement if needed. And what’s even better, moss adds up to any environment regardless of what species you choose.
Most types of moss prefer to grow under shade and close to humid places (like water garden plants).
TO THINK ABOUT: Some mosses grow close to the floor and creep around this way. Others develop more like ferns, upwards with thin stems and light foliage.
#10. Neanthe Bella Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
This is a rainforest plant that is HARD to find. But it is totally worth looking for.
Why? Because it is a purifying plant. A terrarium will be the perfect place for a plant like this that makes the environment cleaner (other plants will thrive as a consequence).
Plus, it withstands low-light environments and doesn’t mind high humidity. As long as temps stay over 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it won’t struggle.
EXTRA FACTS: While it looks like a fern, it’s actually a PALM. It hardly grows longer than 4 feet.
#11. Nerve Plant (Fittonia)
Don’t want ugly plants in your terrarium? Start by taking the nerve plant in.
This small variety appreciates terrarium environments as it is native to rainforests. You can keep it safe with low light, high wetness, and high temperatures.
What stands out the most is the variegated leaves with NERVES. The name comes from its nerve-rich leaves with the most eye-catching fluorescent colors (purple, red, green, pink, and white).
WHAT ELSE: It doesn’t grow longer than 6 inches high, so you can keep it restrained in any type of terrarium.
#12. Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)
A combination of light green with an attractive brown tip adds up to this plant’s beauty. The leaves are also hairy and thick, boasting the typical look of a succulent.
You will love it for the simple reason it grows no longer than 2 feet, may extend to over 3 feet in diameter, and grows even over rocks.
What’s even better, it requires bright light but survives in partial shade. And for watering, you can keep it in either dry or moist environments with no worries.
DON’T DISMISS THIS: It produces a GORGEOUS pink or yellow flower in the right conditions.
#13. Peperomia (Peperomia caperata)
Another plant that was almost perfectly designed for terrariums is the Peperomia.
You will notice the waxy leaves with intense colors to be impossible to ignore. These leaves achieve a dark-green to reddish tone that adds color to any terrarium.
Apart from that, you will notice the large spiky flowers, almost from another world, growing in the spring. They also boast unique colors for extra vibrancy in the terrarium.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It prefers moderate water to survive, so you may want to keep it a little drier than other terrarium plants.
#14. Polka Dot (Hypoestes Phyllostachys)
For those who want only one plant in their terrarium, nothing will make it as perfect as the polka dot.
It’s as stunning as they come, featuring the most vibrant colors from pink to dark green, brown, and even intense red in the dotted leaves. The combinations can make even the dullest of terrariums a gorgeous place to be at.
You will find it doesn’t grow much, to about 20 inches in most cases. And with the ability to thrive under shade and in warm environments, it is almost perfect for terrariums.
BE AWARE: Given the right conditions, you can enjoy vibrant purple flowers (sometimes orange) that stand out.
#15. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Some plants could easily overtake large areas of your terrarium soil if you let them. Among them, you’ll find the pothos.
There are many pothoses to consider, but the Golden variety would be the ideal option for terrariums. Its small leaves with a gold-like tone and green shade, plus the waxy appearance, are undoubtedly beautiful.
You can grow it indoors, outdoors, or in terrariums – EFFORTLESSLY.
VITAL FACT: This is one of the sturdiest plants on the list. As long as temperatures stay warm and you don’t saturate its roots, the plant will likely thrive with little care.
#16. Purple Shamrocks (Oxalis triangularis)
Some plants are designed almost perfect for terrariums – the purple shamrock is one of those.
As the name says, it boasts lively purple leaves. These leaves are tiny with a triangular shape. Some grow in clusters to make them even more attractive. Either way, you can enjoy the intense hues in your terrarium all year long.
It grows quickly in most climates and withstands temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. You can grow it indoors if necessary, even in the warmest conditions.
KNOW THIS: You will see white flowers growing in the spring (if you’re lucky). The purple and white mix never stops being amazing.
#17. Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Want to give your terrarium an even stronger color boost? Go no further than the prayer plant.
This surprisingly colorful variety features pink veins, light green and yellow hues, plus green bodies. The combination adds up to the richest appearance on the list. And to make it even better, you can enjoy the waxy leaves that BRIGHTEN UP when the sun hits.
The prayer plant prefers warm environments and direct sunlight (this may be a problem). But otherwise, it thrives in terrariums, even in high humidity.
CHECK THIS: While the most popular prayer plant is multicolored, you may also find it in green with dark-green dots – also cute enough without being extravagant.
#18. Starfish (Cryptanthus bivittatus)
You’ll know exactly how it looks by reading the name. This low-growing species looks precisely like a starfish would but with a bit of a catch: it’s color almost always stays pale pink.
Many people consider it a zombie plant as well, given the discolored tones. But it is still gorgeous, as it is entirely different from other varieties and rarely grows longer than 6 inches.
By the way, the spiky and ruffled leaves are also slightly crispy (lovely in almost every way).
THERE’S MORE: This plant grows tiny spikes from the leaves, which can be prickly to the touch and stay in your skin (BE CAREFUL).
#19. Stonecrop (Sedum sp.)
For those who like succulents but also appreciate dense foliage – nothing will meet their needs like the stonecrop.
What makes this plant terrarium-friendly is the ability to extend widely on any soil. It doesn’t grow more than 4 to 6 inches and often spreads REALLY FAST. You can cover entire terrariums with these if you let them.
Still, many stonecrops to consider, but they all require bright sun and decent humidity to thrive.
THINK ABOUT IT: There are many varieties with all kinds of colors, ranging from dark green to light green, purple, orange, and even reddish tones.
#20. Sundews (Drosera)
It looks like coral. Eats flies. And grows in VERY HUMID places.
The sundew is a carnivorous variety for those who LOVE rare species. Its leaves are spiky with tiny drops of “dew” that flies and other insects want to eat. As soon as they sit on the plant, it EATS THEM AWAY.
Did we mention the colors? Purple, pink, light green, white, and the most bizarre of shapes. There’s nothing to hate about it.
CRITICAL FACT: The plant grows ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY in high humidity areas (like bogs, koi ponds, and terrariums).
#21. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
While some carnivorous plants are as strange as they come, the venus flytrap keeps it simple: a light-green stem, oval top with teeth, and a closing mouth.
What else does a carnivorous species need? It attracts insects with scents coming out of its mouth. They sit on it, and BAM – it closes and eats away the bodies.
You will find it perfect for a terrarium as a rare variety, as well as a pest-eating one. Plus, it loves terrarium environments (high humidity and low light).
INTERESTING FACTOR: It prefers saturated soils over dry ones, so you can grow them in your water garden without a single issue.
#22. Watermelon Pilea (Pilea cadierei)
The Pilea cadierei is ready to boost your terrarium appeal from the first day onwards.
Its white-marked leaves look like a tiny watermelon, thus such a particular name.
As for growth, you can see it reaching a bit over 3 feet high and achieving bush-like growth. You can prune it down if you want it to stay smaller.
Still, you need tropical environments (high humidity, warmth, and low light) if you want it to thrive.
ANOTHER FACTOR: You will see clustery white flowers growing in the spring that combine perfectly with the silver-marked leaves.
#23. Zebra Cactus (Haworthia attenuata)
Few cacti will survive inside a low-light terrarium – the zebra cactus among them.
It boasts white dots in the stem while looking almost the same as an aloe vera but with more color.
The species appreciates the warmth of terrariums but may struggle with some of the humidity. You will need to keep it close to a window or open space for it to thrive.
Having said that, it still makes for a cute addition to any terrarium (and with little care may still grow healthy).
GREAT EXTRA: It grows super slowly and lasts a really long time.
Your terrarium doesn’t have to be dull and colorless.
The terrarium plants above will make that possible – as long as you pick the ones that best match your climate.