Moss Terrarium Lighting 101: How Much Light Needed?

Most moss plants grow best in low-light areas of a home. The amount of light that your terrarium receives depends on the type of moss growing in it, but in general, more light is better.
A cylindrical closed terrarium.

Moss is one of the plants that doesn’t get much attention among succulent lovers. But it is a good plant that can be an excellent addition to your terrarium. In fact, it plays a critical role in regulating the amount of moisture in the soil while preventing algae from taking over. It also protects plants with delicate roots. However, you must be careful with how much light your moss terrarium receives.

So, how much light does a moss terrarium need? Moss does not require a lot of light to thrive. Generally, moss will tolerate a wide range of lighting levels, from low light to bright indirect sunlight. The amount of light that you provide for your moss should depend on the species you choose and the environment in which it is growing. Be sure to provide your moss with moderate indirect natural sunlight for at least four to six hours per day. If you don’t have access to natural sunlight, use artificial lighting such as LED or fluorescent bulbs placed close to the terrarium.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about how much light your moss terrarium needs. Read on to learn more.

What Is a Moss Terrarium?

A moss terrarium, also known as a “mossaria” or “mossarium“, is designed to grow moss and other plants in an enclosed environment.

In fact, the term “Mossarium” translates to a “container of moss” in English. Mossaria, on the other hand, is used to describe multiple moss plant terrariums.

Moss terrariums can provide you with the perfect microclimate for growing various small plants, including bromeliads, ferns, and even tiny orchids. They make incredible decorations too.

Making a moss terrarium is relatively easy. Compared to other succulents, moss is a relatively easy plant to maintain.

A terrarium
They make incredible decorations too.

The key layers of this plant are pretty easy to obtain but critical to the longevity and success of your moss terrarium.

Proper drainage is one of the most important things you need to remember when creating a moss terrarium.

The drainage layer usually consists of sand, gravel, or charcoal and ensures the soil is not waterlogged. It also prevents the moss from rotting due to excess moisture.

Making sure your moss terrarium is properly lit is just as important. The light level should neither be too harsh nor too dim. We shall cover more on lighting in our next sections.

The substrate is the bottom layer of your terrarium. It provides a medium for plant roots to anchor onto and helps keep moisture in place. This layer can be made up of soil, moss, or even sand.

The last two layers are top dressing and decoration. Top dressing can include gravel, tiny stones, shells, or glass chips.

Decorations are crucial for creating a visually beautiful terrarium. They can be anything from tiny figurines to plastic ornaments, but it is essential to ensure they don’t block sunlight.

What Are the Different Types of Moss Terrariums?

There are three different types of moss terrariums. A moss terrarium can be fully aquatic, the traditional terrain setup, or a hybrid of both.

The traditional terrain setup is the most common type of moss terrarium. This style has a drainage layer, substrate, and top-dressing layers. The plants are grown in the soil, watered from above, or misted with water.

The fully aquatic setup is just like it sounds; it’s a completely submerged environment that only requires minimal misting to keep moisture levels high.

A round sand terrarium.
The moss you need will mostly depend on the type of terrarium you have chosen.

The critical components of this type of setup are a substrate, gravel, and aquatic plants such as Java moss or Hairgrass.

The hybrid setup is a combination of the terrain and aquatic style. This type of terrarium uses both water-filled containers and soil to create the perfect environment for growing moss.

You can use either artificial lighting or natural light for this setup. The moss you need will mostly depend on the type of terrarium you have chosen.

How Much Light Does a Moss Terrarium Need

Now that we have covered all the essential layers of a moss terrarium, let us shift focus and discuss the lighting requirements in detail.

To thrive, moss plants require bright, indirect sunlight and temperatures between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

You must avoid exposing moss to direct sunlight since it can burn the delicate leaves of moss plants. Make sure your moss terrarium is located away from any direct light sources.

Some moss plant species will thrive in relatively shaded and low-light areas, but the key to success remains to provide your moss with bright, filtered light. This allows your plant to photosynthesize without any issues.

You should also ensure the spot isn’t too dry or windy to avoid drying out your moss. Although moss plants love moisture and warmth, they require proper airflow to thrive.

If your moss is an enclosed terrarium, consider positioning it on a windowsill or shelf that receives plenty of bright, indirect light away from air conditioning devices or radiators.

A open terrarium outdoor exposed to sunlight.
You should also ensure the spot isn’t too dry or windy to avoid drying out your moss.

Open the lid occasionally for air exchange. You should even consider taking your terrarium outdoors once a week for a full day of proper air exchange.

But don’t put it under direct light. The primary purpose of taking the terrarium outdoors is for proper ventilation.

Always aim for mid-range lighting since too much or too little light may cause your moss to wither. Don’t be afraid to place your terrarium moss on a windowsill that receives plenty of indirect sunlight.

What Type of Light Does a Moss Terrarium Need?

Your moss terrarium will primarily benefit from natural bright light from the sun. If you don’t have direct access to natural sunlight, you could consider using artificial lighting such as LED grow lights or fluorescent bulbs tailored for plants.

LEDs and fluorescent lamps with higher Kelvin ratings (5000-6500K) will be most beneficial for your moss terrarium.

Generally, the higher the Kelvin rating, the more intense the light and heat. If you are using artificial lighting, ensure that you have it set on a timer so it is not overused.

It’s also essential to take into consideration how much light your moss terrarium needs. The amount of light required depends on what kind of moss you are growing. However, most mosses need between four to six hours of light daily.

Direct vs. Indirect Light: What Is the Difference

We have consistently said that your moss terrarium will only thrive when exposed to bright, indirect sunlight. So, what exactly is the difference between direct and indirect light?

Direct light refers to when a source of light (e.g., the sun) is shining straight onto an object without any obstruction or diffusion.

On the other hand, indirect light refers to when a light source shines on an object but is blocked or diffused in some way, such as through a curtain.

Moss plants do not have the capability to tolerate direct sun exposure and will burn if they are exposed to it for too long.

Therefore, they should always be placed in an area that receives indirect light or has some kind of barrier between them and direct sunlight.

What Are the Temperature Requirements for a Moss Terrarium?

The aspect of light is closely related to the temperature needed for optimal moss growth. The ideal temperature range for most moss terrariums is between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moss plants are very sensitive, and any drastic changes in temperature can cause them harm or death.

A african violet plant in a terrarium.
The aspect of light is closely related to the temperature needed for optimal moss growth.

If you do not have a way of regulating the temperature of your enclosure, consider keeping it away from heat sources such as radiators, fireplaces, and windowsills that receive direct sunlight.

You may need to mist your terrarium more often to prevent dehydration in warmer environments. Placing ice cubes in the terrarium can also help lower the temperature and ensure it stays consistent over time.

What Is the Ideal Humidity Level for a Moss Terrarium?

Moss plants thrive in humid environments, which is why terrariums with moss plants are typically kept closed. The ideal humidity level for most moss terrariums is between 70-90%.

Humidity levels can be increased by regularly misting the terrarium or placing a shallow water bowl inside the terrarium.

Check on your terrarium often since too much humidity can lead to fungal growth and other problems.

A person holding a terrarium.
Humidity levels can be increased by regularly misting the terrarium.

One of the best ways of controlling the humidity level of your terrarium is by keeping an eye on the temperature.

Keeping temperatures in the range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit can help maintain high humidity levels without creating moisture buildup inside the enclosure.


Moss terrariums are a great way to add life and color to your home décor. You must provide them with proper lighting and a favorable environment for them to thrive.

The image layer should be made up of sand, soil, and moss plants. The ideal environment for a moss terrarium is one with bright, indirect light away from air conditioning devices or radiators.

Artificial lighting, such as LED grow lights or fluorescent bulbs, can also be used in place of natural sunlight.

Your terrarium moss will thrive and add beauty to your home with the right conditions!

Last update on 2023-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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