Best Plants For Self-Sustaining Terrarium [Bring Life & Color]

A self-sustaining terrarium lets you create a small universe right in your own living room. There isn’t even a need to exert any effort to appreciate the beauty of living things.

Terrarium plants that can support themselves on their own require the transference of natural processes into a container that has been specially prepared by the owner.

Here, we’ll look at some of the best plants for a self-sustaining terrarium.

History Of Terrarium

When the terrarium was discovered accidentally in 1942, a farmer put insects and fern spores in a jar and sealed it. This is how the tale goes.

A few days after being left behind, the insects are still alive because fern spores have sprung and offer food and air for living things. Who would have considered that? It implies that they will not perish in a closed terrarium.

Thus, providing optimal artificial natural circumstances, such as water supplies, healthy soil, and appropriate lighting, is critical to the success of establishing a self-sustaining terrarium plant.

The latter is likely to necessitate human intervention.

History Of Terrarium

What Is A Self-Sustaining Terrarium 

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live in the wild, a self-sustaining or closed terrarium is the answer. Consequently, the cycle can run on minimal effort on your part.

Ecosystems can develop naturally without human interference since each component performs its role well. A self-sustaining terrarium is based on this idea.

Glass containers are used to house the self-sustaining terrarium plants, sealed shut. To keep them alive, you’ll also need to include other materials that aid in the growth of plants or animals.

Growing plants in glass containers have traditionally needed human involvement, so many people are skeptical that self-sustaining plants will thrive there.

Some Best Plants For Self-Sustaining Terrarium

Open terrariums and closed terrariums are the two varieties of terrariums available. Different plants thrive in various types of terrariums. 

Open terrarium plants prefer drier conditions and don’t do well in damp surroundings, whereas closed terrarium plants appreciate humidity and warmth.

We’ve compiled a list of the best terrarium plants. 

Mosses (Bryophyta)

Mosses for Terrarium

The moss is the most commonly suggested self-sustaining terrarium plant since it is a pioneering species. In addition, it is simple to maintain and grow. To top it all off, growing this plant doesn’t require a lot of water.

Using moss in a terrarium is also a good idea because this form of plant does not need nutrients.

In contrast to other plants, mosses don’t have specialized tissues for transferring water and nutrients. As a result, mosses get their water from the leaves on their stems. And so, they require constant exposure to a moist atmosphere.

When these Bryophyta plants are in a moist environment, they will thrive. However, if the conditions aren’t right, the plants will wither and die.

You may customize your terrarium in any way you like with these plants because they come in various hues. Green moss isn’t the only color you’ll find; you can also find it in red, blue, yellow, and grayish-white tones.


  • In ideal conditions, it may dry out.
  • When dried, it turns a darker shade of brown or tan.

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides)

Chinese Money Plant for Terrarium

According to Feng Shui and Vastu beliefs, the Chinese money plant symbolizes riches, good luck, and positive energy.

Flowers of the Urticaceae family are found only in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of southern China, where they are also known as the UFO plant or the pancake plant.

As a result of its ability to control water and air movement, it is a beautiful addition to any home’s design.

Leaves are spherical, glossy, and dark green in color and can grow up to 12 inches in diameter on these plants. The stem is greenish to dark brown in bloom at the base, and it stands straight up.

It will, however, begin to lose leaves if the climate is unfavorable. And you should also prune the leaves if they have grown too large.


  • In adverse conditions, they may lose their leaves.
  • They need to be trimmed frequently because they can grow up to 12 inches tall.

 Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida)

Purple Heart Plant for Terrarium

Tradescantia pallida, a self-sustaining terrarium plant, will assist keep the glass jar’s conditions comfortable and pollution-free due to its presence.

The beautiful Purple Heart plant is indigenous to Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

Dark purple, spear-shaped leaves up to 7 cm long and fat stems are typical of these plants. A sheath of whitish hair secures the plump leaves to the stalk. 

The stems are exceedingly fragile when brushed and can easily be broken off.

It’s a cultivator with a distinctive look. This self-sustaining terrarium plant can withstand polluted air with its long, violet leaves.

This plant’s ability to purify the air surrounding it sets it apart. The Purple Heart plant was found to be capable of removing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from indoor air in a study of 28 different plant species.

This suggests that Purple Heart plants may contain critical medical benefits for humans when used as interior house plants.


  • In really cold weather, they may freeze to death.
  • The stems are easily snapped off.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)

Golden Pothos for Terrarium

Toxins can be neutralized and the air cleaned by this plant, known as Pothos. The self-sustaining terrarium’s environment will benefit from this arrangement the most.

Golden Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, is a vining plant that thrives in warm, damp environments. It’s a popular choice because they’re easy to maintain and nearly impossible in the wild, they’re a popular choice.

Low light conditions can also be tolerated by Epipremnum aureum. There won’t be any issues with it being placed in a dark environment. Numerous people choose to utilize this plant as a decorative item due to its eye-catching appeal.

As long as the weather is warm and has moderate to high humidity, the Golden Pothos can thrive. Medium or indirect sunlight is also ideal for this plant’s growth. They are one of the easiest and most versatile closed terrarium plants to care for.

The seed pods of these plants are shaped like spherical coins. Typically, they have golden, multi-colored leaves that are often striped. However, depending on the breeder you purchased the plant from, you may find cream and white-marbled varieties.


  • Small terrariums should not use this plant.
  • Fungal and parasitic infections may occur.

Caring For Self-Sustaining Terrarium Plant

Once you’ve completed the production process, you’ll be able to enjoy the product. The self-sustaining terrarium plants, on the other hand, nevertheless require attention. So keep an eye on things, and if necessary, maintain them.

  • Pay close attention to the lighting. You must know when to turn on and off the lights. As part of photosynthesis, this mechanism is crucial.
  • You’re still in charge of monitoring and maintaining the water’s quality. Ensure the environment inside is safe and steady for the plants and animals.
  • If necessary, perform improvements and repairs.
  • When the terrarium becomes dirty, clean it.
  • If pruning is required to keep the plant’s growth steady, do so.
  • If there are animals in the house, be sure they are in good health and can’t spread disease.

Your self-sustaining terrarium plant and animal should be alright if you follow the steps correctly. In ideal conditions, the ecosystem can last for many years.

Essential Components Of A Self-Sustaining Terrarium

Establishing a small environment involves more than simply putting a self-sustaining terrarium plant in an empty jar. 

Some species of animals can be added to your self-sustaining terrarium plant to make it appear more natural. An ideal self-sustaining terrarium requires the following components.

A Container

Choosing the correct jar to house the entire ecosystem is very important. Determining the appropriate size and shape for live organisms is critical.

Choose a uniform shape so that there are no gases or liquids that settle at a specific location. Size, on the other hand, has an important role. A sufficiently large container is suitable for perfect circulation.

Lighting System

Living organisms face both day and night in nature, which plays a vital role in maintaining natural processes. So the self-sustaining plants and animals in your terrarium will need it, too.

When it comes to this one, they’ll need your help. The light’s on/off mode can be changed. Artificial UV lighting with a timer is perfect.

Watering System

The water system determines your terrarium’s overall conditions. Rather than randomly arranging living things, you should consider how the water flows. Make a channel for the liquid to flow through.

You can mimic rivers and lakes in terrariums to emulate natural landscapes. But, if you’re not careful, you could end up in a situation where the consequences could be fatal.

Terrarium Plants

Plants in the terrarium will decide how the organisms in a sealed container will fare, as described earlier on.

The glass jar grower’s requirements are already known to you from the preceding discussion. We also advocate self-sustaining terrarium plants to keep the environment in balance.


With the help of animals, you create a self-sustaining terrarium; it’s effortless! They can thrive as long as the flow of air and water is unhindered. 

The bug terrarium is a unique example of a self-sustaining ecosystem. But if you create an artificial river or lake, a few fish are a must.

Terrarium Self-Sustaining Plant Purchasing Considerations

Some things to keep in mind while purchasing a plant for your tiny garden:

Go For Tiny Plants

Your terrarium’s plants should be no larger than the confines of the container. The glass’s edges should not be touched by the plants’ leaves.

Adding many plants to your terrarium is a terrific way to boost humidity, but keep in mind that overcrowding your terrarium will prevent other plants from receiving adequate light. 

Therefore, your plants should not be crammed together in a little space inside your glass.

Select A Plant With Slow Growth Rates

You want to choose a plant that grows slowly for your terrarium. Ideally, you don’t want them to outgrow their container in a matter of months. 

Self-sustaining terrariums, after all, are meant to be on display for all to see and enjoy, with as little effort as possible required.

A plant that thrives in low moisture and low light is the best option for those ready to maintain their terrariums manually every week or so. 

Just trim the leaves, branches, and vines before they outgrow their place.

Take A Look At How Plants Survive.

Even if you’re going for a more natural aesthetic, it’s OK to use environmentally friendly plants. Putting parasites in the same jar as other plants will wreak havoc.

A considerable period of study and observation is required. But, first, you must ensure that the terrarium’s inhabitants can cohabit peacefully in the jar, such as plants and animals.

Which Animals Can Be Kept In Terrariums

Mourning Geckos, Poison Dart Frogs, Praying Mantis, Axolotls, Pacman Frogs, Tarantulas, etc., are excellent animals to keep in a small to medium terrarium.

The Benefit Of Making A Self-Sustaining Terrarium 

The Benefit Of Making A Self-Sustaining Terrarium

Many people believe that a terrarium is an excellent addition to any home and will bring various benefits. Maintaining them with self-sustaining plants, on the other hand, is a far superior option.

Provide habitat for a self-sustaining terrarium plant that can thrive even in situations that are impossible in nature.

ARTIFICIAL NATURAL STATES (ANS) are a subset of this method. Because of these reasons, you should give it a shot:

  • You can use it as a lovely piece of art in your home.
  • There is very little need for human involvement, saving you both time and money.
  • The self-sustaining terrarium can persist for decades in the appropriate conditions.
  • There is no need for fertilizer or other treatments.
  • Protect the natural world.
  • It can be used to do scientific research.

Related Resources:

The Final Word

Your choice of plants for your terrarium is entirely up to you. Make sure you choose a plant that you enjoy looking at up close. 

Terrariums are beautiful because they allow us to grow many exotic plants in our own homes.

Please feel free to ask any further questions in the comments area. You may rely on us to help you design a beautiful assortment of terrarium plants.

Sujit Modak

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