The Top 10 Plants for a Gorgeous Open Terrarium Display

If you want to make a terrarium without a lid, you will need to think about which plants will do well in that kind of environment. Open terrarium plants are a great option to consider!.

They have evolved to live in dry places and tend to benefit from the free-flowing airflow and other benefits that come with lidless containers.

This article will talk about the different types of open terrarium plants, their benefits, how to set up and care for your terrarium, and how to keep your plants alive. In order to add some greenery to your room, open terrarium plants are the best choice.

An open terrarium is a unique way to bring a mini garden into your home or office. Unlike closed terrariums, open terrariums allow for airflow and lower humidity, making them ideal for showcasing succulents, cacti and other plants that thrive in arid conditions.

Choosing the right plants is key to creating a visually striking and easy-to-maintain open terrarium. The ideal plants are small, slow growing, and able to tolerate some moisture while preferring drier conditions.

After extensive research we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 plants that are perfect for open terrariums. Read on to discover our recommendations and design inspiration to help you craft a living work of art!

1. Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

With its fleshy oval leaves and sculptural shape, the Jade Plant is one of the most popular succulents for open terrariums. There are several varieties to choose from, including the classic jade green, as well as variegated types with cream or pink-tinged leaves. Jades are drought tolerant but can handle some humidity. Their slow growth habit makes them ideal terrarium specimens.

2. Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

Burro’s Tail is perfect for an open terrarium, with its trailing stems densely packed with blue-green teardrop shaped leaves. As a succulent, it prefers dry conditions but can tolerate occasional moisture. Allow it to trail over the edges of your terrarium for a cascading effect. The leaves detach easily, making Burro’s Tail great for propagation.

3. Echeveria

With their gorgeous rosette shapes and fleshy leaves, Echeverias bring unique texture and color to terrarium displays. Some popular varieties include ‘Perle von Nürnberg’ with purple tipped gray-green leaves, and ‘Dionysos’ with deep red edges. Provide bright light to bring out the best coloring.

4. Haworthia

Haworthias are another excellent succulent choice, valued for their unique leaf patterns. Haworthia attenuata has bold ridges, while Haworthia retusa has translucent “windows” on its leaves. Their sculptural shapes and slow growth make these perfect terrarium specimens.

5. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum spp.)

As hardy succulents Hens and Chicks are very easy to grow in open terrariums. Choose from a variety of colors and textures from the classic green houseleek to red-tipped varieties. Plant them separately or in clusters for an eye-catching display. Offsets will multiply, allowing you to propagate new plants.

6. String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Add a trailing succulent to your open terrarium with String of Pearls. Its peas-shaped leaves on dangling stems will cascade beautifully over the edges of your container. Provide lots of light to keep the leaves plump. The strands are also easy to propagate in water or soil.

7. Living Stones (Lithops spp.)

For truly unique terrarium specimens, look no further than Living Stones. These cryptic succulents mimic pebbles with their stony patterns to blend into their native habitat. Add a touch of whimsy and natural wonder to your display. Lithops require very minimal watering.

8. Zebra Plant (Haworthia fasciata)

True to its name, the Zebra Plant has dark green leaves banded with white variegation resembling animal print. Coupled with its sleek, spiky shape, this succulent is sure to add visual drama to your terrarium. Haworthia fasciata enjoys bright light but no direct sun.

9. Miniature Rose (Rosa spp.)

For a touch of romance, include a petite rose plant in your open terrarium. Miniature rose varieties like ‘Petite Pink’ and ‘Baby’s Blush’ stay under 6 inches tall, making them perfect additions. Enjoy their delicate flowers and fragrance. Be sure to plant in cactus soil and water when dry.

10. Air Plants (Tillandsia spp.)

Air plants make fantastic open terrarium companions since they don’t require soil at all. Simply attach them to driftwood, pebbles, or terrarium walls. Soak weekly and mist occasionally. Choose petite Tillandsia types like ionantha, juncea, and bulbosa for small displays.

Design Tips for Creating Stunning Open Terrariums

Once you’ve selected the ideal plants, the fun part begins – creating a miniature world inside your open terrarium! Follow these design tips for crafting a gorgeous display:

  • Choose a glass container with an open top to allow airflow. Cylinders, cubes, and bowls all work well.

  • Add a 2-3 inch layer of fast-draining cactus/succulent soil mix. You can also use pebbles or sand.

  • Arrange plants attractively, mixing heights, shapes, and colors. Use larger statement plants as focal points.

  • Incorporate hardscaping elements like decorative rocks, sand, moss, and driftwood. This adds interest and texture.

  • Allow trailing plants to cascade over the sides for a dynamic look.

  • Top dress with pebbles, sand, moss or succulent cuttings for a finishing touch.

  • Place your terrarium near a bright window. Avoid direct hot sunlight which can scorch plants.

  • Water sparingly – the key is allowing the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent rot.

Care Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Open Terrarium

Caring for your open terrarium is easy if you follow some basic guidelines:

  • Water deeply but infrequently, only when soil is completely dry. Succulents are very prone to rot with overwatering.

  • During the warmer months, you may need to water as little as once every 2-3 weeks. In winter, scale back to once a month.

  • Check soil moisture by inserting your finger into the dirt up to the second knuckle. If dry, it’s time to water.

  • Use a turkey baster or small funnel to water gently. Avoid getting water on the leaves.

  • Give your terrarium plenty of bright, indirect light each day. Avoid hot afternoon sun beating down directly.

  • Rotate the terrarium periodically and prune any plants that get unruly. This encourages healthy growth.

  • Open the lid once a week to allow airflow and prevent mold or fungus growth.

  • Remove any dead leaves or stems immediately to prevent rot from spreading.

  • Fertilize very sparingly, at half strength. Excess nutrients can harm succulents.

With the right plant choices, beautiful design, and proper care, you’ll be able to enjoy a thriving open terrarium that’s a living work of art requiring minimal maintenance!

Best Orchids For Open Terrariums

Orchids make great open terrarium plants as they thrive in humid, warm climates and require minimal care. Because of their stunning flower displays, they make a beautiful addition to any terrarium.

Their minimal water and fertilizer requirements, as well as their rich soil, make them low-maintenance plants. They do not need much extra care and can be left to grow well. They also help make any terrarium look impressive.

Best Ferns for Open Terrariums

Mini ferns make great open terrarium plants because of their small size, decorative foliage, and low–maintenance requirements. These evergreen plants are versatile and will thrive in humid, filtered light conditions and don‘t require soil.

Plus, they come in a variety of types to add texture and texture to your terrarium.

These little ferns will keep your terrarium looking healthy and nice for a long time if you mist them often and give them enough light.

The Rabbit Foot Fern is a beautiful, low–maintenance, ground–hugging terrarium plant that is perfect for open terrariums.

It has soft, velvety green leaves and a strong root system that spreads out in all directions and looks like rabbit’s foot, which is how it got its name.

Rabbit Foot Ferns prefer medium indirect light and should be kept at temperatures of 22–30ºC. When they are in humid places, they make tiny scales that give their leaves texture. This makes them very good at cleaning the air in terrariums.

If you want to keep them happy, make sure the substrate drains well. They like soil that is damp and humid. In general, the Rabbit Foot Fern is a great open terrarium plant for a low-light, topless terrarium. It will also look great in any other room.

We love the Bird’s Nest Fern as an open terrarium plant. Its lush green fronds will make any terrarium look nice.

It does best in warm, humid places with some indirect sunlight, so this plant would do well in any open terrarium.

This tropical plant grows outward, creating an impressive rosette shape, featuring beautiful green and variegated foliage. Its name, “bird’s-nest,” comes from the shape of the center of each plant, which makes it a great place for many pets to nest.

This low-maintenance plant doesn’t need much pruning and is very easy to grow from seed because it can send up baby fronds that arch.

The Bird’s Nest Fern looks nice and is easy to take care of, so it’s a great plant to add to an open terrarium.

The silver lace fern is a beautiful and decorative plant that is often used in open terrariums. This plant looks beautiful as an ornamental. Its fronds are made up of thousands of tiny silver leaflets that make them look like lace.

With its soft and contrasting color, the silver lace fern makes a great accent piece in any terrarium.

The best thing about keeping this fern in open terrariums is that it only needs moderate conditions to grow well. It can handle times when it’s more humid and bright, indirect sunlight.

It is also a good choice for open terrariums because it grows slowly, can handle drought, and doesn’t need much care.

Crocodile Fern is a species of fern that is popular for use in terrariums. The Crocodyllus looks both rough and beautiful with its deep green, rippled fronds that grow horizontally and have thin veins running through them. It is a great plant to add to any terrarium.

This plant is great for open terrariums because it is an epiphyte, which means it gets its food from its surroundings. It doesn’t need soil to grow and can handle more light or humidity than some other terrarium plants.

Also, the Crocodyllus’s short, dense growth makes it perfect for terrariums of all sizes, whether they are closed or open.

Staghorn Fern is a perfect plant for an open terrarium environment. Staghorn Ferns have fronds that look like antlers, hence their name.

They come in a lot of different colors, from green to brown, and are easy to take care of. Since they are epiphytes, they grow on other plants and don‘t require much soil while they’re thriving.

Staghorn Ferns prefer an environment with high humidity, good airflow, and indirect sunlight or medium light. They make great additions to terrariums because they don’t need too much maintenance.

Staghorn Ferns also do a great job of keeping the terrarium clean and healthy by pulling toxins out of the air and making something called “Rainwater.”

So if you are looking for an open terrarium plant, Staghorn Ferns are a great choice.

Heart Fern is a type of fern that does not need much care and is perfect for open terrariums because it is small.

These ferns are very pretty because their leaves are heart-shaped and very small. They look great in small open terrariums.

It does best in humid places and likes bright light that comes from behind. This makes it perfect for open terrariums, where the humidity can be kept up and the plant won’t dry out from direct sunlight.

Its lush leaves can make it spread out up to 12 cm wide, making it the perfect plant for any terrarium.

The Pellaea rotundifolia, or Button Fern, is a great plant for an open terrarium because it grows slowly and on a small scale. It is a type of fern that is native to many parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Simple, round leaflets are thickly spread out around the plant’s thin stems and make up its leaves. This fern can only grow to be 12 inches tall and wide, which makes it perfect for open terrariums.

The Button Fern doesn’t need much care or attention; all it needs is a spray of water every once in a while to stay moist.

Along with its pretty leaves, this fern also has clusters of small, purple-brown flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer.

The Silver Ribbon Fern, or Pteris cretica, is a tropical, evergreen plant that grows back every year. It is native to parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia.

It looks great in terrariums, especially open ones, thanks to its pretty silver-shaded fronds that can grow up to 35–75 cm tall and 35–50 cm wide.

The silver ribbon fern is easy to care for. It grows best in warm, humid places (18–30 degrees Celsius) with bright, indirect sunlight or short bursts of artificial light. It also needs an even–medium level of moisture.

Because it grows slowly, it’s a great choice for open terrariums and terrarium gardens because it can provide a nice background without getting too big.

The Delta Maidenhair Fern is an ideal choice for open terrariums. There are small, delicate ferns with dark brown spore clumps under their thin, fan-shaped leaves that grow low and spread out.

It has light olive green fronds that look great against a darker substrate and rocks. The fronds are finely cut and arranged in a circle.

This fern thrives in slightly damp soil, with indirect, filtered light, and moderate humidity levels. The Delta Maidenhair Fern is a pretty plant for terrariums, and its fine-textured leaves look great falling off the sides of terrariums.

It is suitable for many different types of terrariums, including open terrariums with high humidity and indirect light.

The Boston Fern is a traditional open terrarium plant with a lacy texture and bright green foliage. This is a type of evergreen perennial plant that does best in bright, indirect light and grows best in humid, tropical places.

This plant, which is also called Sword Fern, has long fronds with small, shiny leaflets that hang down in a pretty way. The Boston Fern is a great plant for terrariums because it doesn’t need much care and is simple to take care of.

It also helps keep the air in the terrarium moist and can filter out toxins naturally.

It is also ideal for open terrariums since it prefers bright and humid environments. This plant does very well in low humidity, too, which makes it a great choice for many types of terrariums.

A lot of people choose Autumn Fern, or Dryopteris erythrosora, for open terrariums because it looks nice and can handle both high and low levels of moisture.

The plant has thin, deep red to pinkish fronds, and its leaves are feathery and finely textured. It comes back every year, with new fronds appearing in the spring, growing bigger in the summer, and then going away in the fall.

For open terrariums, this is great because it can stay alive and active all year, looking great even when other plants go to sleep.

It does best in soil that stays moist and gets light from the side. It also does well in areas with a lot of light and humidity.

The Lemon Button Fern, also known as Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘duffii, is a common plant that grows in open terrariums. It is native to tropical and subtropical areas.

It is known for being small and having thin, delicate fronds with lemon-colored spots and a slightly ruffled texture.

This plant is great for open terrariums because it doesn’t need much care and only needs a little light and water.

This plant is not only easy to care for, but its bright yellow spots make any terrarium look unique.

It can grow in a lot of different types of terrariums because it is small and grows slowly.

The SIX Most Reliable Terrarium Plants


What plants are best for open and closed terrariums?

Moss, lichen and ferns are natural choices for a terrarium, with their fondness of moisture and their ability to thrive in dim settings. Choose plants with similar light and moisture requirements for the same container.

How to layer an open terrarium?

Just like closed terrariums you want to start with a layer of rocks or gravel. Since there is no drainage hole in a terrarium, this layer of rock will help with drainage and prevent root rot. Next, add a layer of charcoal pellets. You can find these in pet stores for aquariums and sometimes at the garden center.

Do you need an open terrarium?

Open terrariums, such as succulent terrariums, are not self-sufficient, and many classic terrarium plants are closed off to them. To open, or not to open – that is the question. Though, in reality, it’s an easy one to answer. If your plants like moisture and humidity, you need a closed terrarium. If your plants don’t, you need an open terrarium.

How to choose the best terrarium plants?

Many succulents, insectivorous plants and small houseplants are suitable. Then, you should know that not all terrarium models correspond to all plants. So, choosing the best terrarium plants will depend on whether your terrarium is open or closed.

What makes a good terrarium garden?

A healthy balance of foliage and airflow, as well as an adequate selection of plants, should all be kept in mind in order to create a successful terrarium garden. Air plants are an increasingly popular, easy-to-care-for type of open terrarium plant.

What plants can live in an open terrarium?

This is the classic open terrarium aesthetic. Succulents, cacti, and air plants are perfectly suited to life in open terrariums. (Essentially, plants that don’t like without humidity and consistent moisture). They have similar care requirements, so it’s easy to put them together in an interesting mix of textures and shapes.

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