8 Perfect Plant Choices for Your Open Terrarium

Did you know that there are many plants that thrive in terrariums? Learn how to choose what will grow best in your open terrarium and keep your plants happy, healthy, and looking their best.
Small plant at an open terrarium.

Creating an open terrarium is an excellent way to add a unique style to your home or garden. Open terrariums are ideal for those who want to bring the outdoors inside but don’t have the space or budget for a full-blown greenhouse. However, choosing the right plants for an open terrarium can be tricky. That is why we are here to help you.

So, what are some of the best plants for open terrariums? Open terrariums typically contain succulents, cacti, mosses, ferns, ivy, and other low-maintenance plants that thrive in sunny yet humid environments. When selecting plants for your open terrarium, it’s important to remember that not all species will work well together; some may compete for resources like light and water, while others may not be compatible with one another due to different environmental needs. Therefore, it’s important to research each plant before adding it to your open terrarium to ensure they will all get along nicely.

This article discusses some of the most popular and best plants for open terrariums. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Is an Open Terrarium?

Before we dive into the best plants for open terrariums, let’s take a quick look at what an open terrarium is and why it is good for your home.

Generally, an open terrarium is a glass container with no lid or cover that can be used to display plants indoors or outdoors. Unlike closed terrariums, which are completely enclosed, open terrariums allow air to flow freely.

This makes them great for areas with low humidity and plenty of sunlight. Furthermore, plants in an open terrarium require relatively little maintenance compared to closed ones; they only need enough water and occasional pruning to keep them healthy and thriving.

A echaveria plant on a open terrarium.
The plants in open terrariums can add a layer of warmth and coziness to any room.

Having an open terrarium in your home offers a wide range of benefits. Not only do they look great, but they also help to purify the air in your home by removing pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene.

Additionally, the plants in open terrariums can add a layer of warmth and coziness to any room.

The Best Plants for Open Terrariums

Now that we know what an open terrarium is, let’s move on to the best plants for them. Each group of plants mentioned here is well-suited for open terrariums and will provide a unique touch to your home or garden.

1. Succulents

Succulents are one of the best choices for an open terrarium due to their hardy nature and ability to thrive in drier conditions. Examples of succulents that work well in open terrariums include aloe, jade plant, crassula ovate, and echeveria.

These plants don’t need much water or sunlight to thrive. They come in many shapes and sizes, so you can mix and match different kinds together within your terrarium to create interesting patterns and textures.

Succulents will thrive perfectly in the dry air of an open terrarium, so you won’t need to worry about over-watering them. That said, checking up on your succulents now and then is still important—just make sure the potting mix is completely dry before watering!

You should also consider feeding your succulents every few months with a liquid or slow-release fertilizer to ensure they stay healthy. The best time to apply fertilizer is during the active growth or flowering season.

Avoid fertilizing your succulents during the winter months since they are in a dormant period during this time.

2. Cacti

Cacti are another great choice for an open terrarium due to their hardy nature and ability to store water for long periods. Examples of cactus species that work well in open terrariums include prickly pear, barrel cactus, and star cactus.

These plants need plenty of light and warmth to thrive, so placing your terrarium in a bright spot away from any drafts or cold spots in your home is important.

Little succulent and cacti on open terrarium.
Cacti are another great choice for an open terrarium due to their hardy nature and ability to store water for long periods.

Cacti don’t need much water; simply mist the potting mix once every week or two to keep them happy. Ensure you don’t over-water your plants; only provide enough water to moisten the soil without making it soggy.

3. Ferns

Ferns make excellent additions to terrariums because they can tolerate being enclosed in glass walls with no natural air circulation.

There are many varieties of ferns available, some that thrive in low light conditions while others prefer bright light. Ferns are often used as ground cover plants because they stay small and grow horizontally rather than vertically.

Some popular fern varieties include Asplenium nidus (Birds Nest Fern), Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern), Adiantum (Maidenhair Fern), and Selaginella (Clubmoss).

Taking care of ferns in an open terrarium is quite simple; all they need is regular misting and watering to keep them healthy. They don’t require a lot of sunlight, making them ideal for areas with low light conditions or those without access to direct sunlight.

If you want your ferns to thrive, ensure the potting mix is kept moist (but not soggy). For best results, apply a slow-release fertilizer to the potting soil once or twice a year.

4. Mosses and Liverworts

Mosses and liverworts are small flowering plants that don’t need much direct sunlight or water to survive. They tend to do well in damp environments like terrariums and don’t require as much care as other plant varieties.

Mosses and liverworts come in different varieties, so you can experiment with combining different types together to create interesting effects within your terrarium.

Additionally, mosses and liverworts help keep humidity levels in your terrarium stable, which is important for the health of the other plants you might have inside the terrarium.

To get the best results, add a layer of moss or liverwort to the potting soil and mist it every few days with rain or distilled water. You don’t need to apply fertilizer as these plants typically do not need added nutrients to thrive.

Some of the best mosses and liverworts for terrariums include Selaginella, Riccia Fluitans (Floating Moss), Marchantia polymorpha (Pennywort), and Pellia epiphyllum (Liverwort).

These plants are perfect for creating lush, green environments inside your open terrarium. Experiment with different varieties to create your own unique and beautiful miniature garden.

5. Ivy Plant

Ivy plant is another great option for open terrariums. It can be grown as a groundcover or allowed to climb the walls of your terrarium, creating a stunning display of curling vines and glossy green leaves.

Ivy is easy to care for; all it needs is indirect light, regular misting with distilled water, and occasional liquid fertilizer applications during the active growing season.

A ivy plant on aopen terrarium.
It can be grown as a groundcover or allowed to climb the walls of your terrarium, creating a stunning display of curling vines and glossy green leaves.

Some of the best ivy varieties for terrariums include English Ivy (Hedera helix), Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis), and Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica).

These plants are perfect for creating an enchanting miniature garden with cascading vines and glossy green leaves.

6. Air Plants

Air plants have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their unique look and easy-care requirements. Unlike other kinds of plants that need soil to grow, air plants get their nutrition from the air.

They prefer bright light but can also tolerate lower light levels if necessary—just be sure to mist them regularly, so they don’t dry out.

Air plant hangging on the Open terrarium.
Unlike other kinds of plants that need soil to grow, air plants get their nutrition from the air.

Air plants are great for creating a carpet in your terrarium; they come in all sorts of colors (green is the most common) and look beautiful when combined with other types of plants.

Some of the most common air plants for terrariums include Tillandsia, Xerographica, and Ionantha.

7. African Violet

The African Violet is a popular houseplant with its bright purple flowers and thick, fuzzy leaves. While African Violets typically prefer warmer temperatures and higher light levels than those found in terrariums, they can still do quite well in open terrariums if the conditions are right.

African Violets need regular watering (about once a week) and should be fertilized once a month. They prefer well-draining soil and should not be overwatered to avoid root rot.

African violet plant on a terrarium.
They prefer well-draining soil and should not be overwatered to avoid root rot.

These plants can also benefit from a little humidity, so you may consider adding a pebble tray or misting your terrarium every few days to increase the humidity level slightly.

8. Croton Plant

Lastly, the Croton plant is another great choice for open terrariums. This tropical plant is known for its bright, colorful foliage and striking shape. It is native to South and Central America but has become popular in terrariums worldwide due to its low-maintenance requirements.

Croton plants need bright, indirect light and regular misting to thrive. They also require fertilizer twice a month during the growing season.

Croton comes in various colors, including yellow, red, orange, and green. They are perfect for creating a tropical oasis in your terrarium!

To get the best out of your Croton plant, prune it regularly and give it enough humidity. Your Croton will be a beautiful addition to your terrarium with proper care!


All plants mentioned here are great choices when it comes to creating an open terrarium because they all require little attention yet add a lot of beauty to your space.

When selecting your plants for an open terrarium, remember that each type has different requirements when it comes to lighting, temperature, soil type, etc. So be sure to conduct thorough research before purchasing any of them for your project!

This will help you make informed decisions that will ensure that your open terrarium is filled with healthy plants that will last for many years.

Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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