What Are the Best Plants for a Terrarium?
There’s definitely something therapeutic about tending to the garden; making sure everything is thriving, that the vegetables are coming along nicely, and that this little slice of paradise is attuned to your family’s wellbeing provides such a tremendous sense of accomplishment and calm.
Unfortunately not everybody is blessed with a garden – I’m looking at you, friends in flats! But that doesn’t mean they should miss out on tending to a little bit of the outdoors in the home.
I am, of course, talking about terrariums. These miniature garden environments are the perfect remedy for anybody looking to bring the outdoors inside; not only are they a welcome sight, they’re also easy (and fun) to put together.
Building the Perfect Terrarium
But before you start trying to add any old plant to your terrarium, it’s best to do some research around which plants are best suited to such an environment. While some miniature versions of your houseplant favourites do well in terrariums, others simply won’t survive – and we don’t want that, do we?
Below I’ve collated a little bit of information that I hope will be useful for first-time terrarium enthusiasts, as well as those of you looking to add a colourful or cool plant to your tiny paradise.
Common English Ivy (Hedera Helix)
In the Common English Ivy, you can find an instantly-recognisable, hardy, and easy-to-care-for addition to any terrarium. Not only is ivy visually striking, but its fondness for moisture makes it well-suited to the miniature environment. It’s also – like many on this list – an easy plant to care for, and can be trained to climb in different directions, for a dynamic display.
Nerve Plant (Fittonia)
In my opinion, one of the best plants for a terrarium hands-down is the Nerve Plant. Just look at its colourful veins and showy leaves! What makes the Nerve Plant even more suited as a terrarium plant is its preference for constant moisture and warmth – like ivy, it thrives in the terrarium environment, while making for an eye-catching addition. Factor in the maximum height of 12 inches at full maturity, and the Nerve Plant has earned its place as a staple terrarium plant.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The Peace Lily is known for its forgiving nature – low light and a splash of water will keep it happy, even if it starts to droop. Being such a low-maintenance plant with the visual appeal of a beautiful flowering makes the Peace Lily ideal for terrarium enthusiasts new and old.
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
What’s the perfect terrarium without a little splash of colour? The Polka Dot plant delivers exactly that, thanks to the striking pattern of its leaves. It’s also ideal for terrariums thanks to its appreciation of air moisture, its compatibility with the likes of the Peperomia, and the ease with which it can be cared for.
Spike Moss (Selaginella)
The joy of a terrarium often comes in – as mentioned earlier – making a miniature garden to enjoy indoors. But what’s a garden without grass? OK, so this isn’t really grass, but used as coverage and accenting, Spike Moss is ideal for terrarium enthusiasts looking to apply a little imagination. As with many of the plants on this list, Spike Moss also benefits from being extremely durable, and thrives with good moisture.
Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla)
The Rose of Jericho makes for a fascinating addition to your terrarium. Not only does its appearance offer welcome variation when compared to the other plants on this list (variety is the spice of life, after all), it also comes with many positive traits.
Chief among them is the fact that the Rose of Jericho is very hard to kill – and in many cases where it might dry up or shrivel, it can be revived with ease. Due to its preference for a steady environment that’s neither too warm or too cold, a Rose of Jericho can also happily exist in a terrarium with minimum effort required, so you’ll likely never need to worry about a resurrection anyway.
Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila)
Another plant that’s easy on the eye, the Creeping Fig shows off lush, heart-shaped leaves year-round. Aside from the pleasant sight, however, the Creeping Fig brings a little something extra to the terrarium. As a climbing vine, the Creeping Fig can be trained to creep up structures in the same way as the Common English Ivy – making for some interesting terrarium configurations. What’s more, the Creeping Fig is also incredibly easy to propagate - perfect for future terrariums.
Miniature Parlour Palm
Finally, we come to the Parlour Palm. When crafting the perfect terrarium – especially tall terrariums – it’s a good idea to include a miniature Parlour Palm to fill void space with its generous foliage. What’s more, the Parlour Palm joins the rest of the plants on this list as another easy-to-care-for addition that’s happiest in a moist environment with moderate humidity.
Need a Little Help?
If you’re looking to embrace the terrarium and build your own, you can’t go wrong with the above selection - but remember that there are even more plants out there you can include! Be sure to get creative, mix and match, and check that your plants will thrive in the same conditions as one another.
Need a helping hand to build your first terrarium? Take a look at the terrarium kits available in the store, or have a peek at the how-to guides available here.