If you’re short on space or new to gardening, you might be looking for a way to test out your green thumb. A terrarium could be the perfect starting point. These contained indoor gardens are perfect for perking up your space, and what’s more, they’re kid-friendly and offer unlimited learning opportunities.
Learn everything you need to know to get started with terrarium plants. We’ll talk about what they are, which plants grow best in these containers, and how to get the soil just right so you can enjoy your very own terrarium.
What Are Terrarium Plants?
Maybe you’ve noticed people posting photos of their terrariums online. These charming miniature gardens are a cute and easy way to add some green to your space.
Typically enclosed in a glass container, terrariums are self-contained ecosystems, which makes taking care of them a breeze. You can think of a terrarium along the lines of an aquarium, minus the fish and water! There are different types of terrariums, too.
A closed terrarium is entirely enclosed and is the best option for tropical plants and other types that thrive in high humidity. An open terrarium works best for plants suited to more arid conditions, such as succulents.
Terrarium gardens offer more flexibility than other types of gardening. Since they’re self-supporting, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to water them. Keeping terrarium plants allows you to connect with nature even if you have very little space to keep a garden.
Although terrariums are very low maintenance, you’ll still want to treat them with care. They do best in indirect light, so be mindful of where you place them. Leaving a closed terrarium in direct sunlight can damage your plants.
Psst: Looking for an easy way to introduce your children to the magic of Mother Nature? Try building a terrarium! It’s the perfect opportunity to blend science and creativity. Learn all about eco-systems, plants, and soil, and get creative building your own terrarium. Together, you can choose which terrarium plants to grow in your mini garden.
Selecting the Best Terrarium Plants
When looking for terrarium plants, choose those that are slow-growing and complement each other. For example, you wouldn’t want to mix orchids with air plants since they both have wildly different environmental requirements.
You might be surprised to learn that some of your favorite houseplants can feel right at home in a terrarium, so you may want to think about transplanting some. If you’re not sure where to start, take a peek at this list of gorgeous terrarium plants for some gardening inspiration.
Evergreen and Lower Humidity Plants
These types of plants are best suited to open terrariums as they need more airflow to thrive:
- Golden Club Moss/Selaginella
- Strawberry Begonia
- Watermelon Peperomia
- Creeping Fig
Tropical and Higher Humidity Plants
Most appropriate for closed terrariums, these plants thrive in warmer temperatures and humidity:
- Venus flytrap
- Baby Tears
- Friendship Plant/Pilea
- Polka Dot Plant
- Silver Nerve Plant/Fittonia
- African Violet
Perfect for terrariums, these hardy plants are forgiving for beginner gardeners and easy to grow:
- Buttons Fern
- Victoria Fern
- Spider Fern
Air Plants and Succulents
Ultra low-maintenance, these plants require the least attention in an open terrarium:
- Zebra Plant
- Starfish Plant
Psst: With so many terrarium plants to choose from, you might want to design a terrarium for plants that enjoy high humidity and warm temperatures as well as a more temperate one. Try focusing on small plants or carnivorous varieties such as a Venus flytrap. As long as you keep plants that enjoy the same temperatures and soil conditions together, your terrarium will thrive.
Getting Your Soil Just Right
To ensure a low-maintenance terrarium, you’ll need to create the right soil conditions for your plants. Some terrarium plants prefer moist conditions while others don’t. And some, such as air plants, don’t require any soil at all.
Start by choosing organic potting soil. A high-quality potting mix will be high in organic matter, such as earthworm castings, bat guano, coconut coir, and beneficial bacteria. All of this will help your plants flourish.
While you might be tempted to fertilize your terrarium, consider holding back from doing so. Many plants that are well-suited to terrarium life are on the smaller side. If they get too big, you’ll have more pruning and maintenance to stay on top of.
A fundamental ingredient in preparing proper soil conditions in your terrarium involves layering. You’ll want to introduce other materials such as sand, charcoal, pebbles, or small rocks to help with soil drainage and airflow around plant roots. All of this will help maintain moist soil without getting over saturated. Too much moisture could cause your plants to rot.
Psst: Remember, closed terrariums won’t need any watering. Try spritzing your open terrarium with a spray bottle or gently water once a week.
Extra Tips for Creating a DIY Terrarium Garden
The sky’s the limit when you create a DIY terrarium. Besides picking your own plants and selecting top-quality soil, you can also choose exactly how you want to design your terrarium.
Building your own terrarium is a terrific opportunity to get creative with containers. Repurpose old vases, jars, and fishbowls by turning them into a new home for your plants. Once you’re done planting, you can keep your terrarium as is or add shells, sea glass, and other colorful stones to make it unique.
To keep things super simple but still lots of fun, pick up a terrarium kit. Back to the Roots Organic Terrarium Kids Grow Kit comes with everything you need to get started with your own terrarium. This reusable, sturdy terrarium planter houses decorative sand and 100% organic, non-GMO microgreen seeds.
In as few as 7 days, your terrarium will grow fresh greens for soups, salads, and sandwiches. Unlike most terrarium plants that aren’t for eating, the Back to the Roots terrarium gives you a learning experience and an edible garden that nourishes.
Psst: When you pick up a Back to the Roots terrarium growing kit, you’ll get a free STEM curriculum so you (and your child) can learn all about the science behind eco-systems and how they function. Explore how light, water, plants, microbes, and insects all work together in nature. Your terrarium is an ideal way to combine science and fun into a hands-on experience for adults and kids alike.
Do’s and Don’ts of Terrarium Planting
While we can’t stress enough how easy it is to care for terrarium plants, there are still a handful of things you should do (and not do) to keep them healthy and happy.
- Do Pay Attention to Lighting Conditions: Terrarium plants need the right amount of light. Too much light can hurt them just as much as not having enough. Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to find that sweet spot. Keep your terrarium plants out of direct sunlight and pick up a grow light if they’re in a low-light environment. Aim for medium light conditions — not too dark, not too bright.
- Don’t Overmanage the Ecosystem: Don’t forget that most terrarium plants have everything they need in their closed environment. You won’t need to stay on top of watering and fertilizing as you would with a typical garden. Keep an eye on things, but don’t go overboard with tinkering.
- Do Be Mindful of Basic Plant Care: Even if you do your best to keep your terrarium plants in ideal conditions, they may still need a little extra help. Prune roots to keep them from growing too big, and make sure you carefully remove any plants that die or become diseased so it doesn’t spread to the rest of your terrarium.
Have Fun Learning and Gardening With Terrarium Plants
Terrarium plants are a perfect opportunity to dip your toes in the world of gardening or introduce your children to it. Caring for indoor plants can help teach them mindfulness and foster curiosity. Best of all, building a terrarium is the ideal creative outlet for learning and exploring the natural world.
There are so many different types of plants to choose from, and with a Back to the Roots grow kit, you and your family can take them from garden to plate in no time! To learn more about creating your perfect garden indoors and out, keep browsing our Back to the Roots blog.