20+ Easy Terrarium Plants for Open or Closed Glass In Your Garden

1. Artillery Fern

Artillery ferns are not actually ferns at all but are members of the Pilea family. They are called artillery ferns because they shoot seeds with a popping sound—and sometimes for quite a distance. Despite that explosive trait, these plants are delicate and have a lovely, interesting texture. Artillery ferns are easy to grow, and they will best thrive with minimal care in a closed terrarium, as this plant loves moisture and humidity.

  • Name: Artillery Fern (Pilea microphylla)
  • Light: Medium to bright indirect light
  • Water: Medium
  • Color: Insignificant bloom

 

2. Aluminum Plant

The aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei), a native of Vietnam, likes low to medium light and warm temperatures. This plant thrives in a closed terrarium, as it favors the humid environment. The leaves of the aluminum plant have almost iridescent white markings that make them shine. This plant grows fairly quickly, so you might have to pinch it back occasionally. The aluminum plant is easy to root as well. Simply take a small cutting and plant it in moist soil.

  • Name: Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei)
  • Light: Low to medium light
  • Water: Regularly in spring and summer; less at other times
  • Color: Green leaves with white markings

 

3. Polka Dot Plant

Polka dot plants seem to have a great sense of humor. This plant is cheerful and comes in pink, red, and silver varieties. This terrarium plant is easy to care for and might need to be pinched back if it gets too tall or starts to become spindly or leggy. For this reason, the polka dot plant favors the controlled microclimate of a closed terrarium. A closed terrarium will plant growth in check, preventing the need for extra maintenance.

  • Name: Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Water: Regularly in spring and summer; less at other times
  • Color: Green leaves with colorful, often pink, markings

4. Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

 

Red-veined prayer plant is a stunning plant that can grow up to eight inches tall, so consider it for a large terrarium container. The prayer plant received its common name because it folds up its leaves at night, as if in prayer. If it is not receiving enough light, you will know because the leaves will stay folded even during the day. Prayer plants thrive in greenhouse-like, humid conditions, so grow your prayer plant in a closed terrarium kept away from cold windows and chilly drafts.

  • Name: Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
  • Light: Medium, indirect light
  • Water: Regularly in spring and summer; less at other times
  • Color: Green leaves with white markings

5. Pothos

 

While the meandering golden pothos vine might look pedestrian as a houseplant, it can look fabulous in a terrarium. Golden pothos has a well-deserved reputation as a bulletproof, indestructible houseplant, and it is even truer in the controlled environment of a closed terrarium. Prune it back regularly so it does not become unruly, and your pothos should look good for years. It can also handle low light conditions and is easy to propagate by rooting the stems in water.

  • Name: Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Water: Relatively little water; do not overwater
  • Color: Green leaves with white markings

 

6. Ripple Plant

 

There are about 1,000 peperomia cultivars. The common ripple plant (Peperomia caperata) is known primarily for its deeply ridged leaves that come in a variety of colors and patterns. This small, slow-growing plant does beautifully in closed terrariums where the environment is warm and humid. Peperomia also sometimes produces cool-looking flower spikes. If you are lucky, these showy flowers add a nice color pop to your terrarium.

  • Name: Ripple Plant (Peperomia caperata)
  • Light: Low to bright indirect light
  • Water: Relatively little water; do not overwater
  • Color: Green leaves or green with red

 

7. Baby Tears

 

Baby tears is a small plant with a lot of common names. The plant is also called angel’s tears, mind-your-own-business, peace-in-the-home, Pollyanna vine, mother of thousands, and the Corsican’s curse. The curse may be referring to the fact that, given the right conditions, baby’s tears can be seriously invasive, taking over whole gardens. In a closed terrarium, however, this low-growing plant will behave quite well.

  • Name: Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Light: Bright light
  • Water: Consistent moisture
  • Color: Creamy ivory flowers

 

8. Button Fern

There is something about a small button fern that is terrifically appealing. Hailing from New Zealand, it’s hardy and drought-tolerant. It is slightly mop-headed, but also kind of delicate and elegant at the same time. Because button fern can tolerate periodically dry soil, an open terrarium will suit this plant just fine.

  • Name: Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
  • Light: Full shade to filtered light
  • Water: Water weekly
  • Color: Green foliage

 

9. Creeping Fig

 

Creeping fig, with its small, variegated heart-shaped leaves, makes a lovely addition to almost any terrarium. It is a perennial climbing vine, so you can train it to creep up structures, which could be interesting to try in a large terrarium. Creeping fig prefers a warm, moist environment and will grow well in a closed terrarium. You can easily propagate creeping figs by rooting branch cuttings in water.

  • Name: Creeping Fig (Ficus primula)
  • Light: Partial sun
  • Water: Water occasionally
  • Color: Green foliage

 

10. Croton

A small croton can add some bling to your terrarium. Its shiny, thick leaves come in a huge array of amazing colors and shapes. The gold dust croton, for instance, is one of the narrow-leaved varieties that will have various amounts of gold, depending on the cultivar. It is not well known as a terrarium plant but works particularly well when grown in large, open terrariums.

  • Name: Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
  • Light: Bright indirect, dappled light
  • Water: Water occasionally
  • Color: Green, gold, and salmon foliage

11. Hens and Chicks

 

Succulents can be grown in open terrariums because they stay small and don’t need to be transplanted. One of the best types of succulents for an open terrarium is hens and chicks, which form small rosettes and offshoots. Hens and chicks are not the only succulents that look great in a terrarium. Mix this type with other small desert plants, like ‘Mini Jade’ or ‘Hobbit’ jade plants (Crassula ovata).

  • Name: Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
  • Light: Bright light
  • Water: Let dry out between watering, drought-tolerant
  • Color: Red, green, blue, gold, or copper leaves

 

12. Sphagnum Moss

Moss, especially sphagnum moss, is used in terrariums for its practical and decorative purposes. It stores water in the terrarium for other plants to use and works well in both open and closed terrariums. Water and mist the moss frequently so it can continue to do its job and make your terrarium thrive, though overwatering can result in mold growth.

  • Name: Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum capillifolium)
  • Light: Indirect light, shade
  • Water: Keep moist, lightly water once a week
  • Color: Brownish sage green

 

13. Air Plants

An air plant doesn’t need any soil to grow because it attaches itself to another surface, like driftwood or a stone, for its survival. The plant will absorb water and nutrients through its leaves. But, this type of plant greatly prefers an open terrarium so it doesn’t drown from too much humidity.

  • Name: Air Plant (Tillandsia spp.)
  • Light: Bright to medium indirect light
  • Water: Varies per variety, but likes an occasional soaking
  • Color: Various shades of green, brown

 

14. African Violet

 

African violet is a huge fan of bright, warm, and humid conditions. This compact flowering plant is ideal for closed terrariums. The only caveat: the violet cannot touch the sides of the terrarium or water will collect on its leaves and blooms resulting in rot. Check the plant every so often to make sure the water is draining into the gravel that you need to layer beneath the African violet potting mix. The African violet prefers a terrarium temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Name: African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
  • Light: Bright but not direct sunlight
  • Water: Moisten soil with warm water
  • Color: White, pink, red, blue, and purple

 

15. Nerve Plant

 

This attractive, slow-growing tropical plant is a classic closed terrarium choice because of its love for humidity and warmth. It can be used as the main plant in the terrarium because of its beautiful variegated leaves.

  • Name: Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Water: Constant moisture is important or it will wilt
  • Color: White and red flowers with colorful veined leaves

 

16. Maidenhair Fern

 

Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum raddianum) are a great choice for closed terrariums since they thrive in high humidity. In fact, these delicate plants are difficult to grow indoors unless they are grown in a terrarium or greenhouse. Maidenhair ferns are relatively small ferns, but can still grow to be about one to two feet tall at maturity. For that reason, a medium to large terrarium is ideal. However, don’t be afraid to trim back the fronds if the plant begins to outgrow the space a bit.

  • Name: Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)
  • Light: Bright to medium indirect light
  • Water: Keep soil consistently moist
  • Color: Light green fronds

17. Venus Flytrap

 

Carnivorous plants thrive in high humidity which makes them an excellent choice for closed terrariums. Due to its compact size, the venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a particularly popular choice. Keep in mind that since they are carnivorous, these plants need to “consume” insects periodically in order to survive, so opt for a closed terrarium that you can open when needed to feed the plant.

  • Name: Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
  • Light: Bright indirect light
  • Water: Keep soil evenly moist
  • Color: Green with orange and red tints

 

18. Frosty Fern Spike Moss

 

Moss is a staple in many terrarium setups since it thrives with low light, high humidity, and consistent moisture. If you’re looking for something a little flashier than standard moss, Frosty Fern Spike Moss is a great choice. It’s characterized by frond-like foliage that is edged with bright white tips. Opt for closed terrariums for this moss to provide it with the humidity it needs to survive.

  • Name: Frosty Fern Spike Moss (Selaginella kraussiana ‘Variegatus’)
  • Light: Partial to low light
  • Water: Keep soil evenly moist
  • Color: Green with white tips

19. Living Stones

 

Due to their small size, Lithops, also called living stones, are great for open terrariums. Their unique shape and rock-like appearance will add a quirky touch to any terrarium space. These otherworldly-looking plants develop showy flowers in the fall and winter which will add some fun color to your terrarium. Like all succulents, they are sensitive to overwatering and do best with well-draining soil and infrequent watering.

  • Name: Living Stones (Lithops spp.)
  • Light: Direct sunlight
  • Water: Allow soil to dry thoroughly between waterings
  • Color: Green, orange, red, brown

 

20. Pilea Silver Sparkle

Pilea Silver Sparkle (Pilea glauca) is known for its tiny silver-grey round leaves and red stems. It’s commonly confused with the baby tears plant, although they are two separate and distinct species—just notice the difference in coloring. This pilea is a high-humidity plant, making it ideal for closed terrariums. Keep the soil evenly moist to prevent this plant from drying out.

  • Name: Pilea Silver Sparkle (Pilea glauca)
  • Light: Bright to medium indirect light
  • Water: Keep soil evenly moist
  • Color: Silver-green leaves

 

21. Haworthia

 

Haworthia is a large genus of small succulent plants that make great additions to open terrariums. They are slow-growing and look like small aloe plants with similarly-shaped foliage and growth habits. There are many different kinds of Haworthia to choose from, with the most popular being H. margaritifera and H. fasciata. These desert plants do best in warm temperatures, bright indirect light to full sun, and infrequent watering.

  • Name: Haworthia
  • Light: Bright indirect light to full sun
  • Water: Allow soil to dry between waterings
  • Color: Green

 

22. Friendship Plant

 

The friendship plant (Pilea involuctrata) is prized for its striking deeply textured foliage. It thrives with consistent moisture, warm temperatures, and high humidity, making it a natural choice for closed terrariums. Keep the soil evenly moist and provide this plant with medium to bright indirect light to keep it happy.

  • Name: Friendship Plant (Pilea involuctrata)
  • Light: Bright to medium indirect light
  • Water: Keep soil evenly moist
  • Color: Dark green, red, maroon

23. Strawberry Begonia

 

Strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) plants make a great addition to open or closed terrariums. They require regular watering and do best when the soil is kept evenly moist and can tolerate average to high humidity. Their textured leaves, colorful petioles, and interesting growth habit add visual interest to any terrarium setup. They grow to be six to 18-inches tall and 12 to 24-inches wide, so a medium to large terrarium is best,

  • Name: Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera)
  • Light: Bright indirect light
  • Water: Allow the top 2-3 inches of soil to dry between waterings
  • Color: Dark green with light green veining

24. String of Turtles

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

String of turtles (Peperomia prostrata) is practically made for terrariums thanks to its small size, shallow roots, and spreading growth habit. This plant has succulent-like leaves that make it susceptible to overwatering, so open terrariums are best for this tropical plant. That being said, they should be paired with other tropical plants rather than succulents like hens and chicks or Lithops, which require drier conditions.

  • Name: String of Turtles (Peperomia prostrata)
  • Light: Bright indirect light
  • Water: Allow soil to dry between watering
  • Color: Dark green with light green veining

 

25. Peperomia Pixie Lime

Peperomia pixie lime (Peperomia orba) is a cute compact plant with bright green leaves. It enjoys medium to high humidity which makes it a great choice for open or closed terrariums. This Peperomia is a semi-succulent plant that should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings, so be sure to choose companion plants for your terrarium accordingly. When these plants are happy they send up unique-looking flower spikes to spice up your terrarium setup.

    • Name: Peperomia Pixie Lime (Peperomia orba)
    • Light: Bright to medium indirect light
    • Water: Allow the top 2-3 inches of soil to dry between waterings
    • Color: Lime green leaves

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