7 Tips for Growing Beautiful Terrariums

Learn how to create a stunning terrarium with these 7 tips. From choosing the right container to selecting the perfect plants, discover the secrets for growing a beautiful indoor garden.

Choosing the Right Container

One of the most important steps in creating a beautiful and thriving terrarium is choosing the right container. The container you choose will not only affect the aesthetics of your terrarium, but it will also impact its overall health and maintenance needs. Here are some important things to consider when choosing your container:

Choosing the Size of the Container

When it comes to selecting the size of your terrarium container, there are a few factors to consider:

  • The size of your plants: If you plan on growing larger plants or multiple plants in your terrarium, you’ll need a larger container to accommodate their growth.
  • Your design preferences: Smaller containers can make for an eye-catching display, while larger ones offer more space for creativity.
  • Maintenance needs: Smaller containers can be easier to maintain since they require less watering and pruning.

Ultimately, it’s important to select a size that aligns with both your design preferences and practicality requirements.

Glass vs. Plastic Containers

Both glass and plastic containers have their benefits and drawbacks when it comes to making terrariums. Consider these factors when deciding between these materials:

Glass Containers:

  • Provide better visibility: With clear walls, glass allows you to enjoy every detail inside your terrarium without opening it.
  • More fragile: Easily broken if dropped or knocked over
  • Better moisture retention: Glass containers tend to hold more moisture than plastic ones because they allow less air circulation.

Plastic Containers:

  • Lighter weight: Much lighter than glass options
  • Cost-effective: Typically less expensive than glass options
  • Reduced risk of breakage: Unlike glass options, plastic won’t shatter if accidentally dropped

Your decision may depend on where you plan on displaying or keeping your terrarium long term. For example, plastic works well outdoors as it holds up better against natural elements such as sunlight exposure and changes in temperatures due to weather fluctuations.

Open vs. Closed Containers

The main difference between open and closed containers is the airflow that reaches your terrarium’s ecosystem. Here are some factors to consider:

Open Containers:

  • More opportunities for air circulation
  • Allow natural airflow and moisture exchange between your plants and their environment
  • Need more frequent watering because of the air exchange

Closed Containers:

  • Hold moisture better as they limit exposure to air
  • Require less watering
  • Can trap in too much moisture if you’re not careful, leading to plant rot issues

Selecting an open or closed container may depend on what types of plants you plan on growing inside of it. If you plan on using high-humidity requiring plants such as mosses and ferns, a closed container is preferred. Alternatively, succulents tend to prefer drier conditions which make open containers a sensible choice.

When selecting the container for your next DIY terrarium project, consider the points summarized above before deciding which option will work best for your chosen plants’ needs, design preferences, and practicality requirements. Regardless of what type of container you ultimately choose, know that with care and attention it can be a beautiful home for nature’s miniature wonders!

What is Terrarium?

A terrarium is a miniature garden that is easy to care for and can be an excellent way to bring nature into your home or office. [Wikipedia]

Picking the Perfect Plants

Terrariums can be a beautiful addition to your home or office decor. They are easy to care for and add a touch of greenery to any space. Choosing the right plants is crucial when it comes to creating stunning terrariums. Here are some tips for picking the perfect plants.

Choosing the Right Type of Plants

Not all plants thrive in closed terrariums, so it’s important to choose plants that are suitable for this type of environment. Here are some types of plants that work well in closed terrariums:

  • Mosses: These small, non-flowering plants make great additions to a closed terrarium as they do not require much sunlight and can handle high humidity levels.
  • Ferns: Ferns require low light and high humidity, making them a great choice for closed terrariums.
  • Succulents: While most succulents prefer open air environments with plenty of sunlight, there are a few varieties that can thrive in closed terrariums. Look for ones with small leaves such as Haworthia or Lithops.
  • Air Plants: These unique plants don’t even need soil! They get their nutrients from the air and moisture around them, making them perfect for open terrariums.

Matching Plant Size and Container Size

It’s important to take into consideration the size of your container when choosing plants. You want your arrangement to look balanced and not overcrowded.

Miniature Plants

If you have a small container, miniature plants are the way to go. Some popular miniature plant options include:

  • Miniature ferns: Miniature Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) or Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia) are good examples.
  • Miniature ivies: Many ivy cultivars have been created but Hedera helix varieties like Gold Child offer smaller leaves than normal ones.
  • Mosses and liverworts: The smallest of plants, they increasingly become the stars of many terrariums. They have low nutrient needs and adapt well to different humidities.
Small Plants

Small containers call for small plants, but you can stray away from miniatures if your terrarium is not as miniature itself. Here are some ideas:

  • Fittonia: Known by some as nerve plant or mosaic plant, Fittonia spp. boast colorful patterns of red, pink and white on deep green leaves.
  • Pilea: Often called Friendship Plant or Chinese Money Plant, its pancake-shaped leaves show off its vibrant stems well.
  • Dwarf peace lily (Spathiphyllum): The moisture-loving Spathiphyllum officially grows up to 18 inches but compact ones are available and fit well in a container.
Medium Plants

Medium-sized containers give you more flexibility when it comes to plant choices. Some ideas include:

  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya): This unique plant boasts variegated leaves in shades of pink, red or white with green bases.
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia zebrina): Dazzling purple underside makes this traditional hanging basket choice an equally striking terrarium adition.
  • Lemon Button fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’): With long stems covered in small leaves similar to buttons it creates a soft bobble effect.
Large Plants

Large containers can accommodate big statement pieces but still make certain that it won’t overshadow everything else inside your terrarium. Here are some options:

  • Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): These plants grow lushly full – although constant trimming might be needed – a group looks stunning amid layers of soil and moss.
  • Rabbit Foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) features furry rhizomes that escape the potting mix where foliage emerges. With a jumping texture it can look great with hanging bulbs.
  • Philodendron: Its lush canopy-like fronds are making comeback despite being originated as 70’s houseplant featuring over 200 types (P. scandens, P. hederaceum or P. gloriosum are among favorites).

Dealing with Root Bound Plants

If you have purchased plants that may already be root-bound, don’t fret! There are steps you can take to ensure your terrarium stays healthy.

  • Prune the roots: Trim away any excess roots using a clean pair of scissors or pruning shears.
  • Use small containers: If your plants have really outgrown their current pots, choose smaller containers for your terrarium to help restrict growth.
  • Refrain from watering too much: Watering your plants too frequently can encourage them to grow too quickly.

Terrariums provide an easy way to bring nature indoors while adding a touch of greenery and beauty to any space, when choosing the perfect plants keep in mind this tips for size and type of planting as well as how old they already are and rest assured – following these tips will make creating your own stunning terrarium a breeze.

Layering the Substrate

When it comes to creating a thriving terrarium, one of the most critical elements is getting the substrate right. The substrate is the foundation for all your plants’ growth and needs to be layered correctly for optimal results.

The Importance of Substrate Layers

Layering your substrate offers several essential benefits that help create an environment that supports plant growth. Firstly, it helps with drainage – essential in closed environments such as terrariums where excess moisture can cause root rot and other issues.

Secondly, each layer has a unique purpose, allowing you to create a microclimate suitable for your chosen plants’ specific needs. These layers also facilitate oxygen movement and provide important nutrients to support strong root systems.

Layering Substrates for Drainage

In a closed environment like a terrarium, excessive moisture trapped in the substrate can cause significant issues for plant growth. Poor drainage not only causes root rot but creates conditions conducive to pathogen proliferation.

To prevent water from pooling at the base of your terrarium and ensure adequate drainage, you must take steps when layering your substrate. We recommend placing coarse materials like small stones or gravel at the bottom of your container.

As water passes through these larger particles from higher up in the soil column, it provides pathways for excess water to flow out freely. This process ensures your plants maintain healthy roots while reducing mold and disease risks by providing adequate airflow.

Choosing the Right Substrate Components

The type of substrates you select for your terrarium will depend on several factors such as plant type, humidity levels, lighting conditions and personal preferences. However, here are some common components used in building substrates:

Peat Moss

Peat moss is available as either sphagnum peat or sedge peat; both provide excellent natural resistance against bacteria and fungi due to their acidic composition.

A great option if multiple types of plants are being grown within the terrarium. Peat moss has high water retention properties, meaning it will hold onto moisture for longer without causing the substrates to become overly saturated.


Sand is an inexpensive and straightforward substrate option that is easy to work with, provides good drainage and can be used alone or mixed with other materials. When using sand, we recommend only adding enough so that it comprises between 25-50% of your overall substrate mix; you want to avoid creating a sandy desert-like environment not suitable for most plants.


Gravel is another excellent choice for enhancing drainage in your terrarium. In addition to facilitating excess water flow out of the container, gravel also creates small pockets of air between large stones which helps oxygenate the roots.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal keeps bad odors at bay by absorbing pollutants and bacteria from the environment. It works like a filter trapping particles that could damage your plants before they get absorbed into the soil. Be mindful not to overuse charcoals as an excessive amount can interfere with nutrient uptake.

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss is great at retaining moisture, making it ideal for use in closed environments such as terrariums, while helping inhibit over-watering. It’s also helpful at balancing pH levels by neutralizing alkalis present in some soils. This component should only be used sparingly.

Creating a Balanced Ecosystem

Terrariums are not only beautiful to look at but can be a great way to bring nature indoors. They are low maintenance and perfect for those who want to add some greenery in their homes without having to worry about watering plants regularly. However, creating a healthy ecosystem is essential for the longevity of your terrarium.

Introducing Live Components

When setting up your terrarium, it’s important to introduce live components such as springtails and isopods. These tiny creatures may be small, but they play an essential role in maintaining the balance of your terrarium’s ecosystem.


Springtails are tiny arthropods that help break down organic matter and keep the soil clean. They also prevent harmful fungi and bacteria from growing in your terrarium by consuming them. Adding springtails to your terrarium is very easy; all you need to do is sprinkle them onto the soil before planting anything else.


Isopods or pill bugs are another beneficial addition to your terrarium’s ecosystem. They feed on decaying plant matter and animal waste, helping decompose organic material in the soil. This helps maintain humidity levels and prevents mold growth in your terrarium.

Creating Complete Soil Layers

Creating complete soil layers ensures adequate drainage, which is crucial for a balanced ecosystem within your terrarium.

The bottom layer should include rocks or pebbles that serve as drainage since these materials allow water to flow through while preventing stagnation at the bottom of the container.

Above the rocks or pebbles should be activated charcoal which absorbs any potentially harmful chemicals or toxins from building up inside the enclosure of the terrarium.

On top of the activated charcoal layer put sphagnum moss (peat moss) with added sand because this combination will provide enough nutrients for plants without suffocating their roots. Drainage holes should be included in the bottom of your container.

Adding Decorative Elements

The final step is decorating your terrarium with elements that add visual appeal and help support a healthy ecosystem. Here are some decorative elements you can add to your terrarium:

  • Rocks: Adding different types of rocks will make the landscape more visually appealing.

  • Wood: Natural-looking wood pieces will provide hiding places for insects, worms, and other decomposers.

  • Plants: The type of plant you choose depends on the environment inside the terrarium. You could select mosses as they grow slowly and fit well inside small containers or go for a taller tree like a Schefflera which provides an excellent canopy space on top for other plants to thrive underneath.

  • Water features: A small water feature can add some drama into your enclose, running temporary streams coming down from table top fountains create great modular instalments.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to designing a terrarium, but taking these steps will definitely increase the chances of creating a balanced ecosystem that will thrive and last longer than anticipated!

Watering and Maintaining Your Terrarium

Terrariums are a beautiful way to bring a bit of the outdoors inside, creating mini ecosystems that can be enjoyed year-round. They provide an opportunity to create small worlds for plants and creatures while also enhancing any indoor space. However, creating and maintaining a terrarium can be challenging! But no worries, this post offers tips on watering and other aspects of basic care guaranteeing your terrarium remain vibrant stand out in beauty all year round.

The Appropriate Watering Regime

Proper watering is crucial to ensure that your plants thrive in their new environment. The type of plant you use will determine the appropriate watering regime as not all plants require the same amount of hydration or light.

Some factors to consider when deciding how much water to add include:

  • The size of the container: Larger tanks often retain more moisture than smaller ones.
  • Light exposure: Consider placing it near direct sunlight vs diffused lighting conditions
  • Type of plant: Succulents may require less water than ferns.
  • Season: During the summer months when more heat affects humidity levels in the tank regularly.

Ensure consistency with water supply for each; avoid under or overwatering as they both present risks that can kill off foliage quickly or make them dull and weak.

To get started watering your terrarium correctly, follow these rules:

  1. Use room temperature water – This prevents shocks from fluctuations in temperature
  2. Never let soil dry completely before adding more moisture
  3. Use drainage whenever possible—ensure there are enough holes at the base to give excess moisture a way out when added too much.

Signs of Over and Under-watering

Too much water creates perfect breeding ground for mold or fungal growth within your plant soil/moss substrate leading to damage or weakened foliage. Whereas too little exposes them to dehydration problems causing leaves to wilt or turn yellow/brown faster than usual.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your terrarium, it might be an indication that you’re over or underwatering:

  1. Mold and Fungi: Excess moisture typically visible more in murky colored waters and cloudy moss.
  2. Yellow leaves: When leaves turn gold, brown, or yellow
  3. Root rotting – The roots are always encapsulated with excess water leading to root rot.
  1. Stunted growth – Plats struggling while still smaller than they usually should
  2. Unhealthy looking foliage: Bleshes colors hinting possible dehydration issues.
  3. Leaf shedding or falling off prematurely.

Controlling Humidity Levels

Humidity levels are another critical factor for the health of a terrarium, as each plant requires a certain level of humidity to thrive.

  • Mossy landscapes demand high humidity levels at all times throughout summer months,
  • Cactuses on terraces could survive better under less humid environments usually encountered only outside during mostly tropical seasons;

To regulate humidity levels use a hygrometer testing gadget available at most garden stores to measure ambient levels within the container but heed other tips:

  1. Create space between the cover lid and tank using wooden laths.
  2. Add a small fan where necessary to optimize air circulation
  3. Group plants with similar needs together for ease of remoisturization if some corners need more water attention.

Dealing with Mold and Algae

These two often sprout up when there’s too much water/moisture within any environment – especially those susceptible environments like enclosed spaces such as TerrariumsCommonly algae takes on red or green hues (harmless) covering top layer surfaces of rocks/substrate materials around established plants/crawlerswhile molds appear white/grey patches that detach from plant particles floating atop accumulated water droplets exuded by plant leaves during photosynthesis

To get rid of mold and algae, try the following:

  1. Reduce Watering Temporarily – This allows the upper layer to dry off, reducing moisture accumulation.
  2. Adjust lid position – Lift partially to improve ventilation, or open entirely for a few hours every day if available space has brighter lighting conditions on window ledges.
  3. Remove affected leaves immediately say where noticed wilt spotting by pulling them out then sterilizing tools before returning them..

Choosing the Right Light

Terrariums are miniature ecosystems that thrive on the right balance of light, moisture, and nutrients. When it comes to light, plants need different wavelengths and intensities depending on their species and growth cycle. As a terrarium owner, you need to choose the right light for your plants based on their needs to ensure that they grow healthy and beautiful. Here are some tips on how to choose the right light for your terrarium.

Determining Needs

The first step in choosing the right light for your terrarium is to determine its needs. This means knowing which types of plants you have, their natural habitat, and their growth stage. Some plants prefer bright indirect light, while others need direct sunlight or shade. Most indoor terrariums have low-light tropical plants that require at least 12 hours of artificial lighting per day. However, some species like succulents and cacti can survive with less exposure.

To determine your plant’s specific lighting requirements, you can research their native environments or consult a gardening expert. You should also pay attention to any changes in color or texture of leaves because this could be an indication that they’re not receiving enough or too much light.

Choosing the Right Light Bulbs

Once you’ve determined your plant’s lighting requirements, you need to choose the right type of bulb for your terrarium. There are three main types of bulbs: incandescent, fluorescent, and LED.


Incandescent bulbs are cheap but not very efficient as they produce more heat than light. They emit red wavelengths necessary for photosynthesis but have limited blue spectrum energy required by most foliage plants for vegetative growth stages.They may be suitable only for shade tolerant greenery species since more intense heat produced can cause leaf burn when placed too close to starting young seedlings.


Fluorescent lamps emit both cool-white daylight and warm-white spectrums for both stages of plant growth. They are cost-effective, energy efficient, and emit minimal heat. For terrarium beginner enthusiasts, fluorescent lamps are good to start with since they usually come with useful fixtures that are clip-on types that provide a comfortable and convenient way to mount them over the plant below canopy.


LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is becoming more popular in recent times because of their long lifespan lowering power consumption bills eventually, less heat generation than other bulbs have, adjustable spectrum variations that make them flexible for different plants species needs. A capable LED grow light can last up to 10 years giving your terrarium adequate lighting exposure as long as mounted on the right height above the tops of the plants canopy covering the entire growing area uniformly.

When choosing light bulbs’ wattage considerations should not go beyond 40 watts since intense lighting could produce negative effects on plants growth such as yellowing or burnt leaves.

Determining Duration and Frequency of Light Exposure

The duration and frequency of light exposure for your terrarium depend on several factors such as season changes where overexposure may require adjusting downwards hours exposed to optimal levels for tailored species.

To determine how many hours a day you need to expose your plants; based on their specific type stipulated optimal duration under varying conditions should be referenced.Indoor tropical low-light terrariums require around12-16 hours artificial overhead light exposure divided into two ranges:

  • One 8-hour day cycle during daytime when ambient natural indirect illuminance is at its lowest point.
  • Additional four hours between main cycles stimulating twilight period given as dawn or dusk daily normally near sunrise and sunset timings respectively.

Providing this kind of light setup makes sure that all microflora found within the soil substrates get proper stimulation needed while plants transform carbon dioxide taken from air into oxygen released back into greenhouse hot living space minimum monthly maintenance should also ensure regular dusting off bulbs and fixtures.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Terrariums are an excellent way to bring some greenery into your home without taking up too much space. They’re great for plant lovers who don’t have a lot of outdoor space, or just those who want to try something different. Unfortunately, growing plants inside a sealed container can pose some challenges. Here are some troubleshooting tips for some common issues you may encounter with your terrarium.

Yellowing or Browning Leaves

Yellow leaves on your terrarium plants are often an indication that something is wrong. There could be several reasons why the leaves are yellowing, including overwatering, underwatering, inadequate light, or poor soil quality.

To fix this issue, start by checking the moisture level in the soil. Overwatered plants usually have yellow leaves because their roots sit in water and begin to rot. Conversely, underwatered plants’ leaves curl up and turn yellow because they can no longer take in enough water.

If your plants aren’t getting enough light, their leaves might also begin to yellow and fall off. Move them closer to a window or invest in a grow light if natural light is limited.

Poor soil quality can also be a reason for yellow or brown leaves. If the soil doesn’t drain well enough, it won’t absorb excess water from watering sessions adequately and thus lead roots rotting.

Soil Mites

Soil mites are small white bugs that resemble spider mites but aren’t harmful to humans; they love humid environments like those created inside terrariums.

To control these pests in terrariums without resorting to chemical pesticides follow these steps:

  • Let Terrarium Soil Dry Out: Overwatered soil creates moist environments where mites thrive.
  • Sweep The Topsoil Regularly: Wipe dust and debris off from around planters’ tops preventing accumulation activity on which pests feed.
  • Release Beneficial Bugs In Your Terrarium: Species like Hypoaspis miles or Stratiolaelaps scimitus consume soil mites as prey without posing a threat to plants.
  • Isolate The Infected Planters: Contain the situation by separating affected plants/containers from healthy ones to mitigate territorial spreading.


If you notice that your terrarium plant is wilting, it could be a sign of either underwatering or overwatering. Before giving your plants any water, check if the soil is dry up to 1 inch below the surface – moist but not wet are ideal conditions – and if there’s enough drainage in the container.

If watering isn’t yielding positive results repot in clean moistened fresh potting mix and trim roots since this signal indicates that root rot is at play.

Inadequate Growth

If you notice that your terrarium plants stop growing, there are several common explanations for this:

  • Shallow Roots due small containers
  • Humidity problems
  • Overcrowding & Lack of space
  • Poor Lighting

Deepening disturbances depend on their cause. Still, generally speaking, one approach to boost plant growth that may help within different scenarios includes implementing a fertilizer with Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) nutrients every other week in low dosages.

Pest Infestations

Terrariums can attract various pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and fungus gnats because of their humid environments—these bugs feed on soft plant tissues such as leaves and stems leading these stressed to death.

Actively monitor the containers for possible signs of invasion spotting eggs or larvae early warning signals. Barriers such as sticky traps placed around perimeter work well redirecting insects towards becoming captive. When none-save alternatives need applying utilize chemical pesticide dilutions containing neem oil or pyrethrin insecticides respecting instruction regardless of organic labelling.

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