Top Ten Low Light Terrarium Plants

Posted on Mar 16, 2015 in Projects | 31 Comments

Top Ten Low Light Terrarium Plants
We love terrariums. They’re like little universes that you can curate and style to your green thumb’s content. After all the work and love that goes into planning, planting, decorating, and admiring a terrarium, nothing feels worse than to have one fail on you.

As those of us who just don’t get great sun in their homes might already know, lack of light is the primary reason that your terrarium plants might croak (next to overwatering, of course). But don’t give up just yet! There are plenty of low light tolerant plants out there–even succulents!–that work wonders in terrariums.

Our Top Ten Low Light Terrarium Plants

Succulents and Cacti:

1 – Rhipsalis species
Sometimes called “mistletoe cactus,” we love this genus of epiphytic jungle cacti for it’s bright green branches unique structure. Plus there are hundreds of varieties, all of which are well suited for low-medium light.

2 – Hatiora salicornioides “Drunkard’s bones”
Think of Drunkard’s bones as Rhipsalis’ woodier cousin. More upright growing, we love this plant because in addition to being easy to care for, it creates an uncannily underwater vibe in a terrarium.

This low light terrarium features rhipsalis, hatiora, haworhtia and gasteria species.

This low light terrarium features rhipsalis, hatiora, haworhtia and gasteria species


3 - Haworthia species
Our ultimate go-to succulent for low light terrariums, planters and just about everything else, members of the haworthia genus are sometimes striped with white, sometimes jewel-like, and always beautiful and just as hardy. We use a haworthia in just about every low light terrarium we make!

4 - Gasteria species
A haworthia and aloe relative, gasteria are smoother and less geometric than some other succulents, but easy to care for and producing lots of baby offshoot plants.

Tropicals:

low light terrarium with pothos brasil

This low light terrarium features a pothos brasil and an asparagus fern.

5 - Philodendron species
The quintessential “beginner” houseplant, philodendron (especially darker-leafed, non-variegated varieties) thrive in a tropical terrarium. Given their vining habit, they fare particularly well in hanging vessels.

6 - Pothos ‘brasil’

Want variegation? The pothos brazil (and more common golden pothos) have you covered. This plant is nearly indestructible and makes a great low light terrarium plant.

7 - Fittonia ‘Nerve plant’

Because it’s highly sensitive to drying out, fittonia makes a perfect low light terrarium plant. We love it because it’s starkly patterned leaves provide color and contrast - it makes a great accent plant - just don’t forget to keep it wet.

8 - Sansevieria ‘Snake plant’ (compact varieties)
The ultimate low-maintenance plant, straddling the line between succulent and tropical, sansevieria, especially smaller, more compact species, thrive in a low light terrarium with little care. This plant is a perfect choice for someone who needs low light terrarium plants but doesn’t want to have to remember to water very often!

Bromeliads:

9 - Cryptanthus
Sometimes called ‘Earth stars,’ we love cryptanthus because, with their shallow roots, they fit just about anywhere. Plus, they often have deep pink, red and green colors, all on the same plant! A beautiful accent for your low light terrarium.

Fittonia and Crypthanus

Fittonia and Cryptanthus provide color and texture in low light terrariums

Ferns:

10 - Asplenium ‘Bird’s nest fern’
Though many people swear by ferns as the best low light terrarium plants, we’ve found that the bird’s nest fern fares the best of them all. Beautifully shaped and slow growing, this bright green beauty makes a fabulous choice for a low light terrarium.

Haworthia and Gasteria for low light terrariums

Haworthia and Gasteria make great low light terrarium plants

What are your favorite low light terrarium plants? Join the conversation on facebook!

31 Comments

  1. Carole Shields
    November 8, 2015

    how can you find these plants to buy?

    Reply
    • Jesse
      November 9, 2015

      Hey Carole,

      These plants are fairly common, and likely available at most indoor nurseries. Do you have a greenhouse in your area that carries indoor plants? If you bring a list from the site (or just show them the post when you get there), you’ll hopefully be able to find some!

      All the best,
      Jesse – Pistils Nursery

      Reply
    • Pam
      February 16, 2017

      Hi. You can find them at lowes. They has all kinds and they also has everything u need to do it. By the way they has a nice sale for all these beautiful plants. How do I know this : I work there lol

      Reply
  2. arlyne ruthschild
    November 8, 2015

    I’m looking for a company that sells terrarium supplies. I live in Albany, New York thankyou

    Reply
    • Jesse
      November 9, 2015

      Hey Arlyne,

      Thanks for getting in touch! We do sell terrarium supplies from our retail shop in Portland, and have a limited amount of these products up on our online shop. Check out http://shop.pistilsnursery.com/collections/living-art to see what’s available online, and let me know if you have any other questions!

      All the best,
      Jesse

      Reply
    • Teri
      February 27, 2016

      Michael’s Art Supply store has some very nice glass containers for terrariums.

      Reply
      • Jesse
        February 29, 2016

        Thanks for the tip!

        – Jesse

        Reply
  3. Anji
    December 31, 2015

    Hello
    Your terrarium are gorgeous, and love to make some for my home. Can you please tell me from where I can get cheap sacculents plants and different shape glass pot?? I m living in Edmonton , ab Canada I checked almost all stores but no luck to find good one. Please give me some idea.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jesse
      December 31, 2015

      Hey Anji,

      Thanks for your kind words about our terrariums! Unfortunately, it’s really hard to ship terrariums across the border due to customs regulations. Though I know a few US stores that ship terrariums, I don’t think they’d be able to ship to you in Canada, and I’m not sure what domestic sources might be available to you. I’d check in with shops in other major canadian cities, and see if they will ship to you!

      My apologies that I can’t be of any more help! Best of luck in your search and happy New Year.
      Jesse
      Jesse

      Reply
    • Judy Sciandra
      September 26, 2016

      Anti
      Try Michaels art and craft stores. I think you must have one in Edmonton.

      Reply
    • Christie
      April 3, 2017

      I live in edmonton to alot Walmart has some stuff I believe so does Costco or any superstore even some grocery stores like save on foods and sobe ys have plants normally by the entrance.

      Reply
  4. Carole
    January 8, 2016

    How long will these plants last if kept properly in a terrarium? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jesse
      January 8, 2016

      Hey Carole,

      The majority of these plants can live happily for many years! They may however (especially the tropicals) outgrow their terrarium in 1-2 years, depending on the size of the glass used. At this point, it’s pretty easy to swap them out for smaller specimens, and re-pot into a new vessel.

      Hope this helps,
      Jesse – Pistils Nursery

      Reply
  5. marlie graves
    January 18, 2016

    All very pretty, some quite spectacular actually. Unfortunately, not terrariums. Terrariums are closed containers. These are glass bowl containers, which need special care because they have no drainage.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      January 18, 2016

      Hey Marlie,

      Thanks for your kind words about our arrangements! You’re right – the classic terrarium is generally fully or mostly enclosed. The majority of what we make are “open terrariums,” which in our experience are better suited for succulents and cacti, and are easier to care for in the average home. Indeed, care for these is definitely different than that required for a totally sealed terrarium, and save for the pictured glass vessels which have lids, care wouldn’t be different from an arrangement planted in a pot with no drainage.

      All the best,
      Jesse – Pistils Nursery

      Reply
  6. Simona fambrini
    February 12, 2016

    Ciao.volevo fate per festa di bimba numero 50 boccette chiuse von tappi di sughero.Devo iniziare presto perché c.e tanto lavoro.Quali piccole piccole piante posso usare? Moriranno prima di festa?grazie

    Reply
    • Jesse
      February 15, 2016

      So sorry, but I don’t know enough Italian to answer your question! If you can ask in Spanish, I could potentially be more helpful! Thank you!

      Reply
      • Kelly
        February 18, 2016

        Simona says she wants to make 50 small terrariums in bottles sealed with corks for a party. She thinks she should start soon because it’s a lot of work. She asks what smallest plant is best to use and if she starts to make them too soon, would they die before the party?

        Love the guide–do you think the plants listed would do ok in an office with no windows? Thanks!

        Reply
        • Jesse
          February 19, 2016

          Kelly, thank you so much for your help with translation!

          The plants listed should be fine in an office scenario provided that they’re within about 3 feet of a full spectrum lightbulb. Thanks for the kind words about the post!

          Best,
          Jesse

          Reply
    • Jesse
      February 19, 2016

      Hey Simona!

      I think that if you’re using small bottles sealed with cork, you might try to find air plants, because it’s pretty difficult to plant succulents in a bottle that has a small opening. The air plants only need to be dropped into the bottles, because they don’t need any soil to survive. You could just decorate the bases of the bottles with sand.

      To keep them healthy before your party, just make sure the plants are getting medium-bright indirect light, and that you mist in the bottles periodically to keep it moist.

      Thanks! Hope this helps!
      Jesse

      Reply
  7. Aliny ( Aly)
    February 21, 2016

    Hello !!! I love this idea, I would try to do it. If some of you have a Homedepot Near you. I was there and they have a lot different plant for terrarium. Good evening !! Adios !!! ✌️

    Reply
  8. Dianne
    March 13, 2016

    I went to a thrift store and bought old glass punch bowls, works very well.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      March 22, 2016

      Great idea!

      Reply
  9. South paw
    August 4, 2016

    Great little article! A good guide to basement dwellers that love plants!

    Reply
    • Jesse
      August 9, 2016

      Thank you! Glad to hear you enjoyed.

      Reply
  10. Lindsey
    August 28, 2016

    hey! i would like a cute little cactus or succulent for my bedroom. My bedroom has indirect lighting and the windown sill is very small so my blinds would knock it down so i was wondering if there was a small colorful cactus that i could put on my desk without killing the poor plant.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      September 19, 2016

      Hey Lindsey,

      Most cacti will want the brightest spot you’ve got – like the windowsill. Check out rhipsalis, though – it’s a jungle cactus with lower light tolerance. Should be fine for the desk!

      Jesse

      Reply
  11. Brenda
    December 26, 2016

    I have a terrarium that was given to me and I tried to replace/add plants and they all died. I did add water and I think I killed them. Need suggestions on plants and care

    Reply
  12. 17 Best Bathroom Plants, How To Use, How To Choose, No Light or Upright
    June 20, 2017

    […] Succulents can do well in a traditional terrarium set on your countertop or the back of your toilet. Place a small, attractive lamp with a grow light above the terrarium to provide decorative value and life-giving light. [source] […]

    Reply
  13. Best Plants for Low Lit Homes - Rob Raham Team Oakville Real EstateRob Raham Team Oakville Real Estate
    August 15, 2017

    […] worthy plants in your home? Well these will do the trick! There’s a variety of low light terrarium plants that will make a great addition to your home, like the Haworthia […]

    Reply

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