How to Take Care of a Terrarium

how to care for a terrarium

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What is a terrarium for plants? | Terrarium benefits

Ever heard of a terrarium—for plants?

Most people think of terrariums as homes for turtles, a pet iguana, or maybe even those weird ant farms—or a creepy tarantula.

But terrariums can also be great homes for your houseplant pets, too.

In fact, they’ve been used since Victorian times for keeping indoor plants. Now they’re experiencing a huge comeback!

Terrariums also have great benefits for specific plants, especially tropical and desert perennial plants. This includes mini cactuses, succulents, air plants, ferns, and the list goes on and on…and on.

Think of terrariums almost like passive indoor mini-greenhouses. They absorb tons of sunlight and warm up the air and space around plants to meet their needs, making them possible to grow comfortably indoors in any region.

Terrariums are the perfect indoor habitats for the ideal houseplant, no matter where you live. Even in a city!

What can you grow in a terrarium? How do you take care of a terrarium?

And—most importantly—where do you get a terrarium? Can you make a terrarium yourself?

We’ll look at all these questions and more.

Plants that go in a terrarium | Terrarium plants

Not all plants are suited to a terrarium. Still, you’d be surprised by what you can grow in one.

When deciding what to grow in your terrarium and knowing if it will thrive, just follow this rule of (green) thumb: ask yourself, does the plant like heat? Does it prefer lots of sunlight? Will it stay compact enough to fit inside?

If so, your plant will probably love a terrarium.

Of course, you’ll have to also take its personal soil and moisture needs into consideration, too. If you want to put multiple plants in your terrarium, make sure that they all need the same—not different—things, or some will flourish while others wither.

As a guide to begin with, these are just a few great terrarium plants:

terrarium care

Terrarium care and maintenance | Caring for a terrarium

Taking care of and maintaining a terrarium is incredibly easy.

The hardest part, really, is getting started and planning how and what houseplants will go in. Even then, that task is hardly difficult at all—it just takes some planning and forethought.

Planting terrarium plants

Depending on its shape and size, you can plant all plants in one single layer of soil at the bottom of your terrarium container.

For slightly larger ones, you can get away with putting each plant in its own single container to keep its particular soil needs separate. Generally though, most terrariums are small, and indoor growers will just lay bottoms with one type of soil.

Next, carefully transplant your houseplants in, and then water them in carefully to acclimate them. Then, watch them grow.

Watering terrarium plants

Watering a terrarium can be more of an exact science.

In terrariums, dry-loving plants—like cactuses, aloe, and succulents—will only need a sprinkling of water every so often.

You’ll also want to make sure soil dries out regularly and quickly with dry-loving plants. Keeping the terrarium open, not closed, can also help with keeping it dry.

Moisture- and humidity-loving plants, on the other hand, are a whole different story. This includes ferns, mosses, and African violets.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good to flood your terrarium. You may want to give these a bit more water and more often, so that soil moisture stays damp all the time.

The real trick with moisture-loving plants is keeping your terrarium closed more often. This will help build up humidity within, which will keep soil moist and create the “jungle-y” and humid conditions these plants love.

Even with moisture-loving plants, however, make sure to open your terrarium for them at least once per day.

Plants need carbon dioxide to breathe, and they won’t be able to get it in a terrarium that is closed 24/7.

terrarium photo

Make your own terrarium kit | Homemade terrarium

How do you make your own terrarium? Fortunately, this is an easy task.

Terrariums can be crafted from just about any glass container. This includes bottles, jars, glassware cups, champagne glasses, or even old aquariums for larger terrariums.

These can range from being very large, to very small, depending on your needs and what you want to grow inside.

They can be all sorts of wacky shapes and sizes, too. Get creative!

The only requirement is to have a way for the terrarium to be opened, of course. You’ll need this to allow your plants to breathe, be watered, and to even be planted in the terrarium container with soil in the first place!

Also opt for containers that are made of clear, translucent glass. Amber-, blue-, or green-colored glass containers won’t work because they’ll block out the sunlight your plants need.

Where to buy a terrarium online | Purchasing terrariums

Don’t want to make a terrarium? You can always buy one online.

Making your own terrarium can afford you lots of options and creativity. But there are also tons of unique purchasable options, shapes, and sizes to be found if you don’t have the time.

You can even get terrariums that have plants already planted and ready-to-grow inside them. However, you’ll more easily find these options at stores, and less so online.

Some of the terrarium options below could be a great fit for you and your house or apartment.

Comes with a small stand to hang the terrarium on a counter or desktop.

Has a round “lid” enclosure that can be removed and replaced at need or at will.

Go for a more unique shape with facets and angles, and a slightly larger size for more plants.

With an angular look, you can also fit more plants inside this case, just like with the geodesic.

Cool terrarium ideas | How to jazz up your terrarium

Terrariums are a great way to raise and keep certain houseplants.

But the real huge perk to having them: they look amazing. Beyond traditional houseplants, terrariums transform and enhance the way your living space looks in ways you never thought imaginable.

But you can step it up even more with a few flourishes and touches.

Here are some tricks to make your terrariums look absolutely fabulous with just a few easy touches:

  • Add rocks. You can source beautiful rocks and pebbles from a gardening store, or find your own in nature. Place them around the base of plants and over the soil to give your terrarium a more polished look.
  • Add sand. In the similar vein to rocks, place sand over soil—or even have your plants growing directly in sand themselves, if they can take it. Cactuses come quickly to mind.
  • Miniature figurines for terrariums. Have a certain style? Turn your terrarium into a zen garden or even a fairy garden with figurines and decorative touches.


Want to learn the basics of indoor gardening? Check out these posts:

Everything You Need to Know About Water

Everything You Need to Know About Light

Everything You Need to Know About Soil

Everything You Need to Know About Fertilizer

Everything You Need to Know About Plant Pots

How to Repot Plants

How to Get Rid of Pests Naturally

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