Terrariums have taken over in recent years, and it's easy to see why. Essentially miniature greenhouses, these glass containers filled with florals make a whimsical addition to any home. And they're pretty easy to care for—provided they're getting the right amount of light and moisture. So before you select a vessel and get growing, you'll want to decide on the right types of plants for your terrarium.
"First things first, we always ask folks: 'Where do you want to put your terrarium?'" Katy Maslow, co-owner of in Brooklyn, NY, tells Ikaroo.info. "This determines the lighting. Lighting will typically determine the plant type. Plant type will determine whether the terrarium is open or closed."
While open terrariums allow for plenty of airflow and are therefore better suited to dry plants (such as succulents), enclosed containers will be much more humid (think ferns and moss). Keep in mind that since your selections will share a habitat, they should require similar light and moisture levels.
"Select plants that have the same needs, and your terrarium will thrive," Maslow explains.
Step 1: Pick Your Plants
FOR BRIGHT LIGHT
If your home has bright light, opt for an open succulent terrarium containing any of these varieties:
FOR MEDIUM LIGHT
For areas with medium light, you can go with a terrarium that's either open or closed.
For open terrariums with medium light:
- Peperomia (, Ripple, Peperomioides Chinese Money Plant)
- Fern (, Woodland, Button)
- Pilea (, Glauca, Depressa)
For closed terrariums with medium light:
FOR LOW LIGHT
Whether you live in an apartment with hardly any windows or work in an office with fluorescent lighting, you can still keep a closed terrarium filled with the following mosses alive:
Step 2: Select a Container
The terrarium type will depend on the needs of the plants you just selected.
"Different types of plants can handle moisture—some really cannot," Maslow says. "So open means that they’ll have a lot less humidity in them. Closed means that they'll have a lot more."
OUR OPEN TERRARIUM PICKS
OUR CLOSED TERRARIUM PICKS
"If you were to put ferns in a closed terrarium, they would do really well because they love that added humidity and moisture," she continues. "But with that said, there are a lot of plants that would just turn to goo within a matter of weeks if you put them in a closed system."
As for air plants, almost anything goes: "Because they have a variety of needs, you can actually keep them in an open or closed terrarium," Maslow explains. You just have to monitor the general humidity."
Step 3: Plant Your Terrarium
Regardless of vessel, you'll want to start with a layer of gravel or rocks under the soil to allow for proper drainage and aeration, as terrariums do not have holes like other planters.
"Without a layering system, you end up with a swamp," Maslow says.
Avoid overwatering (which can lead to mold and root rot), and open up closed terrariums to help them air out every now and then—with the exception of moss terrariums.
And "make sure to select the right soil for your terrarium," Maslow adds. That means cactus soil for succulents, peat moss soil for moss, and professional potting mix soil for other plants.
Step 4: Add Decorative Elements
You can also layer in decorative pieces like the ones listed here. Just make sure not to suffocate the plants with them. Less is more!
Take the Easy Route
For those without the time or space to build from scratch, there's a quick solution: a kit that comes with everything you need, including the container, soil, and plants.
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