These five terrarium plants never fail me! Not all plants can grow in a humid, closed terrarium. Although many tropical plants love humidity, some species grow too large too quickly and others require airflow unless they'll rot.
I choose plants that share these characteristics that set them up for success in a closed terrarium environment:
- Tropical plants
- Small leaves
- Loves humidity
- Tolerates moist soil and leaves
- Slow growing
- Easy to propagate
- Low to medium light
Check out my 5 favourite easy terrarium plants below and read about why they work so well in closed terrariums.
1) Nerve plant
Nerve plants are my go-to terrarium plants for beginners because they're so fun, colorful and easy to grow. Nerve plants come in green, red and pink. They stay nice and compact so they don't outgrow your terrarium. Nerve plants work so well in terrariums because they love humidity. If you've grown one as a house plant, you'll know they can be quite temperamental if they ever dry out.
You can propagate nerve plants to create even more plants by dividing the original plant or taking stem cuttings. When I use nerve plant cuttings, I push them directly into the soil inside the terrarium and they root just fine like that with about a 90% success rate.
2) Pilea baby tears
Pilea baby tears is a cute tiny plant to add to your terrariums as an accent. It comes in bright or pastel green and spreads to create a beautiful ground cover in your terrarium. Pilea baby tears can be propagated like nerve plants through stem cuttings. Simply snip off a strand below the node and press it into the terrarium soil to root.
3) String of turtles
Let's face it- string of turtles is a beautiful plant. It gets its name from its round leaves that have a turtle shell pattern on them. This plant is a great addition to any whimsical themed terrarium. For those of you who love succulents, this is as close as you'll ever get to growing a succulent inside a closed jar. String of turtles is crazy easy to propagate through stem cuttings. Root it by laying your cutting directly on top of the soil or moss in your terrarium.
4) Ripple plant
Ripple peperomias are an underrated terrarium plant. With unique textured leaves that come in purple, green, white and more, this plant makes an excellent centrepiece in your terrarium. I've found it doesn't grow too large in terrariums and can be divided quite easily or propagated slowly through leaf or stem cuttings.
5) Rabbit's foot fern
Rabbit's foot ferns are the easiest fern to grow in terrariums. They're less temperamental than other ferns and sport the coolest fluffy rhizomes near the base of the plant. These rhizomes help the plant to store moisture and slowly expand across the soil. Rabbit's foot fern is a slow grower. Take a cutting of a rhizome with at least one frond attached and plant it in your terrarium.
What if you want a plant that's not on this list?
Another way to test if a plant will work in a closed terrarium is to consider the following checklist:
- Is the plant tropical with small leaves?
- Does the plant like high humidity and wet soil?
- Can the plant tolerate moisture on its leaves and low airflow?
- Will the plant grow too large for my container?
- Can the plant thrive in low to medium light?
If the plant meets the above criteria, it's a good candidate for a closed terrarium. I'm a big peperomia fan, so I'll suggest that any small-leaved plant whose name starts with peperomia is probably a safe bet. Remember, the hobby is all about experimentation! Try different plants as you get more comfortable and see what works best for you.