The best plants for a closed terrarium – Part 1

If you’re a beginner, a closed terrarium can look quite intimidating, and one of the most popular questions I get asked is: What kind of plants can I use in a closed terrarium? This article will cover the best plants for beginners, intermediates, and experts, alongside some helpful tips and tricks I’ve come across in my terrarium making journey.

One of the staples for any closed terrarium, and one of my personal favorites: Fittonia or Nerve Plant. This beautiful plant comes in a variety of colours, from pink to green to lime to a mix of all 3! They tend to stay fairly low, are easy to propagate and love the humidity of a closed terrarium. They aren’t too fussy about being pressed up against the glass, and give them the right conditions they will spread and grow like a weed.

Fittonia / Nerve Plant
Terrarium with Fittonia

Ever heard of bromeliads? Yeah, those tall spiky looking plants that you can pick up for £3.99 at the supermarket, you keep them for a few months and forget about them and eventually chuck it away. Well, the Cryptanthus (or Earth Star) is part of the Bromeliad family, but they are truly fantastic! Lovers of moist soil and high humidity, these spiky looking alien plants really add a touch of something interesting to your terrarium. They’re also super hardy! Give them lots of light, and they will reward you with bright pinks and reds.

Red Earth Star alongside Fittonia and Asparagus Fern
Pink Earth Star

When you first hear the word “Fern” you might get war flashbacks of trying to nurse that maidenhair fern back to health, only to have her turn into a bald, crispy mess. And I bet you swore “I’ll never get another fern ever again!”…believe me, I’ve been there too. However, the ferns saving grace is the ethereal Asparagus Fern. It is by far my favourite species: it’s wispy fronds, it’s delicate appearance, and it’s love for both closed and open terrariums! These guys don’t mind being pressed up against the glass either, which is always a plus.

An Asparagus Fern in a tall open terrarium
A mature Asparagus Fern

The Polka Dot plant (Hypotheses) is another terrarium staple. Their colourful leaves and wispy appearance make them the perfect fit for a closed terrarium. The only thing you have to watch with a polka dot plant, is they don’t seem to like their leaves touching the glass. If one of the leaves touches the glass – the whole plant seems to go into shock and slowly die. So, plant them close to the center of the terrarium if you like the look of these colourful little guys.

A bouquet of Hypotheses
A Hypotheses Open Terrarium

English Ivy is something you might think of crawling up the side of a little cottage in the countryside – however, it also looks great in a terrarium! You really have to try hard to kill this one. Just be careful about it taking over the terrarium, since they are such fast growers.

Ivy creeping up a small terrarium
Our “Large” Ivy plant

To finish off part 1, I think we need to talk about (in my opinion) the most overlooked plant out there. The humble Pothos. Now, these are known to be fast growers, so some maintenance is needed if you choose to grow these in a terrarium. My personal favourite species is “Satin Pothos”, although any species will thrive. These can look particularly good hanging from a glass globe as well.

This Satin Pothos is thriving in this DemiJohn

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