These terrarium plants are best suited for the small, confined humid environment that is unique to a closed-in terrarium. You can make incredible displays using a wide variety of different containers—many of which you may already have at home. Choosing the right terrarium plants makes it easy to enjoy these spectacular houseplants without fussing over their care.
Terrariums are a fun way to bring something different to typical houseplant displays. They are also incredibly easy to care for, provided you use the right plants to begin with. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best plants for terrariums to help you experience the joy of indoor gardening!
Terrarium Containers to Try
Before we get into talking about the best terrarium plants, let’s chat quickly about the containers. Choosing your terrarium containers will have a huge impact on how the final project looks.
You can easily find suitable containers at a local gardening store, or even a thrift store. Of course, there are plenty of great online options too!
Just make sure to choose a glass container that has airflow—airtight containers will suffocate your plant. Here are a few of my favorite terrarium containers:
- A glass teapot
- Glass tabletop display
- Rectangle terrarium box
- Geometric terrarium display
- House-shaped terrarium box
Remember, you can also go for the unexpected! It’s part of the fun of terrarium making. You can even make one of these terrarium nightlights for something unique. Just have fun with it—it’s hard to go wrong.
The Best Terrarium Plants
There is a seemingly endless amount of terrarium plants to choose from. I put together some of my favorites on this list, each with varying sizes, colors, and textures. I like to use a combination of plants so that they look pleasing when planted in combination with one another.
Remember, nothing with terrariums has to be permanent. That’s the beauty of plants! If you don’t like how it looks, or if you want to try a new look, simply rearrange them and try again.
Cryptanthus bivittatus is more commonly known as “earth star.” This terrarium plant is a bromeliad that is small with a starburst shape. The spiky plant gets up to six inches tall and six inches wide and has foliage tinged with either bright pink or purple around the edges, so it really stands out against other plants in a terrarium.
This plant does well in sunlight, so if you find a sunny window, it might be the perfect spot for this terrarium plant. If your earth star looks pale, trying moving it to a brighter spot. Water them as often as you find the soil is dry with small amounts at a time.
Frittonia has the common name “nerve plant” because if they don’t get enough water they will fade quickly or “faint.” To prevent this, be sure to water them regularly. Don’t worry, though, they are easy enough to revive if you forget to water them—simply give the plant a good soak and it will spring back.
This terrarium plant likes humid environments and low light, so these plants are perfect to brighten up a dark corner of the house or even the bathroom. Plus, their vibrant pink, white, or red-veined leaves will add a pop of color wherever they are displayed. These plants tend to grow well with soil that can retain moisture but also drain well.
Also called “pixie” peperomia, this little houseplant grows well in both low light and bright conditions. These plants prefer their soil more dry than wet, so you do not need to over water.
If you have had a hard time growing indoor plants in the past, give this one a try. It does not need much attention at all and is a slow grower, so it is the perfect plant to plunk into a terrarium and not have to think twice about it. Plus, its variegated leaves are striking with bright white stripes which will add interest and contrast nicely with other plants in your terrarium.
Pilea plants come in many different varieties, most of which thrive and look beautiful in terrariums. Some species have bright colors, interesting variegation, and saw-tooth leaves, while others are bright green with small, very round leaves, so there is a lot to choose from in terms of aesthetics. One of the most common varieties is the Chinese Money Plant, which works well as a larger terrarium plant or a house plant.
There are also creeping varieties which work well in terrariums as they will crawl and spill over the edges. These plants do well in either indirect sunlight or shade. Keep the soil relatively dry—you’ll be able to see the leaves slightly droop when more water is required.
Also known as “club moss,” Selaginella is a lush moss with delicate, lacy frills that make it look like something from an enchanted forest. It loves humidity and low-light conditions, making this one of the best terrarium plants. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and your club moss will be very content.
I have quite a fondness for moss as they add unexpected texture and visual interest while also being simple to care for. If you’d like to read more about moss plants in terrariums, read this post.
I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but when it comes to plants in terrariums…this may be the one. I’m wild about air plants, as you may have noticed. Tillandsia is a great choice for terrariums of all kinds as they don’t even need soil to grow. They come in a lot of different shapes, sizes, and colors and are easy to care for if you know the right tricks.
To keep these plants properly watered, remove the air plant from the terrarium completely. Then, allow it to take a nice soak in a bowl full of water for an hour or so before returning it home. Do this about once every month.
Love this post! Where do I find these plants, or do you start them with seeds In a terrarium? I’ve never done one before but I want to so badly! I’ve tried searching on home Depot and I’m wondering if there’s an easier way to obtain one of the plants listed in this post.
Hi Jennifer, please go visit a garden center in your area. They will certainly have these plants!