When we think of exotic plants, vibrant colors and dense rainforests come to mind. Thanks to terrariums, we can have that same aesthetic at the tips of our fingers.

The plants you choose to put in a terrarium must be able to thrive in an environment that’s sealed, cramped, and humid. The good news is that our favorite exotic terrarium plants are suited to flourish in such conditions.

Why Rainforest Terrarium Plants?

Why Rainforest Terrarium Plants?


Chances are if you’re searching exotic terrarium plants, rare terrarium plants, or rainforest terrarium plants on Google that you’re not entirely sure for what it is that you’re looking. With that in mind, I’ve tailored this post to help you understand terrarium plants and their growing conditions a little bit better.

If you find that anything lacks clarity or just want a little clarification, comment below, and I’ll get you a concise answer.

Microsorum Musifolium – Crocodile Fern

Microsorum Musifolium - Crocodile Fern

Etsy (theplantfarm)

Microsorum Musifolium, also known as Crocodile Fern, derives its name from its distinctive frond texture similar to the scale-like appearance of crocodile skin. These ferns typically grow under the jungle canopy, so they’re not used to direct sunlight. Inside a terrarium, they should receive moderate to bright, indirect light. If they receive direct light, the color of the leaves may fade to a silvery tone.

Crocodile Ferns need consistent, even watering. So, keeping the soil moist is crucial. However, they don’t like soggy substrate, as it might result in root rot. An ideal substrate for Crocodile Ferns has to have excellent water retention with good drainage.

The temperature for a Crocodile Fern should be somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’ll also require high humidity. Ensure that the temperature doesn’t dip below 50 degrees because these ferns are quite sensitive to the cold. The Crocodile Fern is one of the easiest exotic terrarium plants to care for.

Tillandsia Bulbosa – Bulbous Air Plant

Tillandsia Bulbosa - Bulbous Air Plant

Etsy (TwistedAcres)

The Tillandsia Bulbosa’s most striking characteristic is its bulb base with smooth, long, tendril-like leaves. It enjoys bright, indirect light, but it can handle a few hours under the sun, which makes it a good fit for terrariums. It also gets along with other exotic terrarium plants well.

Unlike regular plants, air plants absorb water through hairy structures called “trichomes.” So your watering routine depends on the type of terrarium that they’re is grown in. In an open terrarium, you’ll need to spray them every couple of days, and they’ll be okay. In closed terrariums, you don’t need to mist Tillandsias directly because when you water the terrarium as a whole, you’ll be watering them indirectly.

These air plants don’t need substrate to grow; they grow by being attached to branches. You can bind them to a branch using a wire or even superglue. They prefer high temperatures and high humidity levels (60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 to 70% humidity). Given these conditions, the Tillandsia Bulbosa will have all the moisture it needs to stay hydrated.

Macodes Petola – Lightning Jewel Orchid

Macodes Petola - Lightning Jewel Orchid

Etsy (BrumleyandBloom)

The Lightning Jewel Orchid is more recognizable by its leaves than its flowers. The name Lightning comes from the Macodes Petola’s broad, rounded, and webbed leaves with sparkly “lightning bolts.” These lightning bolts glisten under sunlight! 

Being a tropical plant, the Macodes Petola is used to some light. But, if positioned in bright light, the color of its leaves might fade, and direct light might scorch them. On the other hand, if the light is too dim, the Macodes Petola starts to stretch towards the source of light. Bright, indirect light is what we’re looking for here.

This plant needs regular, even watering; it won’t tolerate drying out. You’ll need to keep the soil moist, but avoid getting any water on the leaves, and make sure that the roots aren’t soggy because it’s prone to root rot.

The substrate must retain moisture and have good aeration so the roots don’t drown. It would be best if you looked for a substrate mix that’s light and airy, like combining sphagnum moss with perlite. The temperature and humidity of the terrarium should be high because the Macodes Petola isn’t frost-resistant.

Humata Heterophylla – Vining Fern

Humata Heterophylla - Vining Fern

Etsy (VerdantVivariums)

Humata Heterophylla really is a rare terrarium plant. This vine-like fern has emerald fronds similar to leaves. In a terrarium, it’ll grow planted in soil or attached to branches. It’s susceptible to light, so we recommend you put it under indirect, low light.

This fern needs to receive enough moisture to thrive. If it’s grown epiphytically, it’ll require regular misting, but if you decide to plant it in soil, the substrate has to have good water retention because this fern needs moisture constantly. 

Since it’s a tropical plant, the vining fern needs a hot and very humid environment. If, in any case, the fern is lacking moisture, its leaves will turn brown and dry out. Therefore, humidity should be somewhere between 60 and 90% to receive enough water, with a temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cephalotus Follicularis – Australian Pitcher Plant

Etsy (MEOWorksCreative)

Cephalotus Follicularis is a carnivorous exotic terrarium plant that has leaves that grow into pitchers. Inside of the pitchers, there are glands that secrete digestive enzymes for potential prey. Although it heavily resembles Nepenthes, it has no connection to it.

These pitchers should receive full sun; they love light, and their colors heighten under the sun. However, if they receive partial sun, it’s okay too. When it comes to watering, pitchers can’t handle mineral-saturated water, so it’s ideal to use mineral-free water or rainwater. Moreover, they may suffer root rot if left in waterlogged soil, so they should exist in nutrient-free soil with proper water drainage.

Cephalotus Follicularis thrives in moderate temperatures, warm summers, and cool winters. In summer, make sure that it’s not left long in hot weather because it could wither. Also, keep the terrarium open to allow airflow. 

Want More Exotic Terrarium Plants?

Exotic Terrarium Plants

Hooks & Lattice Blog

A plant terrarium doesn’t have to be entirely made of moss. With exotic plants, you can have an exciting, colorful terrarium. 

In most cases, you’ll find that a terrarium with exotic plants is pretty low maintenance. A little misting and a little airing out will be all that your terrarium needs to remain healthy.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to be familiar with the type of exotic plant you plan to get for your terrarium to create a suitable environment for it. Fortunately, many exotic plants thrive in similar conditions, so you can mix and match as you see fit! If you want a little more of a challenge, then consider adding some carnivorous plants to your terrarium!