Terrariums make a wonderful and intriguing micro-environment that will look incredible in your home. They’re simple to maintain and set up as long as you pick the correct plants. But, what are the best self-sustaining terrarium plants?

best terrarium plants for self sustaining ecosystems

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Most terrarium plants thrive in humidity and low, indirect light. Any glass compartment can turn into a beautiful mini-garden, as long as you figure out how to change and maintain substrate. Do note, though, that no plants are truly going to be completely self-sustaining and some perform better in certain conditions.

So, what are the best self-sustaining terrarium plants? We’ll go over our four favorites below and discuss why each makes the list. And, we’ll provide you a place to purchase them.

4 Best Plants for Terrariums 

best self sustaining terrarium plants

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There are two types of terrarium you can choose from: open and closed. Each type of terrarium is most hospitable to particular plants Plants for closed terrariums enjoy humidity and warmth, whereas open terrariums prefer dyer conditions and won’t thrive in moist environments. 

Are you interested to a DIY approach to terrarium construction. Then check out this guide.

Here are our top choices for terrarium plants you can buy today. There are clearly marketed options for both open and closed terrariums. If you have a question regarding a plant not on this list, just ask it in the comments!

1. Mosses – Bryophyta

Tin Roof Treasure Live Terrarium Moss Assortment

Ideal Environment: Closed Terrariums


  • Requires only a minimal amount of water
  • Versatile and easy to grow
  • Pleasing to the eye and serves as a great decorative accent in your terrarium
  • Assimilates moisture like a sponge, which helps prevent soil erosion 
  • Can survive in all sorts of environments 



  • May dry up in optimum conditions
  • Turns yellow or earthy colored when dried out

Mosses don’t occupy a lot of vertical space because they don’t have roots and are exceptionally slow growers. Additionally, since moss plants lean toward full shade, they won’t mind being obstructed by bigger plant foliage in the tight areas of your terrarium.

Mosses don’t have specialized tissues for transporting water and nutrients like most plants do. Due to this, mosses ingest water through their leaves. As a result, they should always be in contact with a moist environment.

They come in many colors, so you have the freedom to decorate your terrarium however you wish. Other than many shades of green – including dark, light, and spring – you can also find moss in colors of red, blue, yellow, and grayish-white.

2. Chinese Money Plant – Pilea peperomioides

terrarium chinese money plant

Ideal Environment: Open Terrariums


  • Energizes the home by separating air and expanding oxygen inflow 
  • Is believed to attract good luck and happiness in one’s home


  • May lose their leaves in poor developing conditions, i.e., bad weather such as extreme heat and cold
  • They have to be regularly trimmed, as they can reach heights of 12 inches  

The Chinese money plant, also known as the UFO plant or pancake plant, is a type of blossoming plant in the family Urticaceae, local to the Yunnan and Sichuan territories in southern China. 

These plants have round, glossy, dark green peltate leaves that grow up to 12 or more inches in diameter. The stem is greenish to dark brown in color, generally standing straight at the base. 

According to Feng Shui and Vastu beliefs, the Chinese money plant is known for bringing prosperity, promote good luck, and actuate positive energy in our everyday lives. 

3. Golden Pothos – Epipremnum aureum

golden pothos closed terrarium plant

Ideal Environment: Closed Terrariums


  • Effective at eliminating indoor poisons such as formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene
  • Cleans the air and keeps the environment fresh 
  • Decreases anxiety and stress by separating air and expanding oxygen inflow 


  • Not suitable for small terrariums 
  • May cause parasite and fungal issues 

Also called Devil’s Ivy, Golden Pothos plants are vining plants that flourish in warm, moist conditions. They’re a popular choice because they’re easy to care for and almost impossible to kill.

These plants are known for their rounded, coin-like seed pods. Generally, they produce yellow, multi-colored leaves. You’ll also find cream and white marbled assortments available, depending on the breeder you’ve bought the plant from. 

Golden pothos is an adaptable plant, happy to live in warm temperatures where humidity is moderate to high. It likewise flourishes in medium or indirect sunlight. Their versatile nature makes them one of the most effortless and easiest to care for closed terrarium plants.

4. Purple Heart PlantTradescantia pallida

Purple Heart Plant open terrarium plant

Ideal Environment: Open Terrariums


  • One of the best plants that help with air decontamination as per NASA studies
  • A charming addition to your terrarium 


  • May die in excessively cold temperatures
  • Stems break off easily 

The Purple Heart plant is a delicate plant that’s native to the Gulf Coastal region of Mexico. 

These plants typically have dark purple, spear-shaped leaves that grow up to 7 cm long with plump stems. The fleshy leaves are secured with pale hair and form a sheath around the stem. The stems are extremely delicate and may break off easily whenever brushed.

What makes this plant remarkable is its capacity to cleanse the air around it. As indicated by an examination including 28 diverse plant species, the Purple Heart plant demonstrated a propensity for eliminating Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from indoor air. 

This shows that Purple Heart plants could hold critical medical advantages for individuals when utilized as an indoor house plant. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Self Sustaining Plants for your Terrarium 

The 4 Best Self Sustaining Terrarium Plants

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Before you buy a plant for your pint-sized garden, here are some important factors to consider:

Choose a Small Plant

Your plants should be small enough to fit the enclosed space of your terrarium. As much as possible, their leaves shouldn’t touch the sides of the glass. 

Adding many plants inside your terrarium is a great way to increase internal humidity, but keep in mind that adding too much will block out the light for other plants. Therefore, make sure that your plants aren’t too crowded and close together inside your glass. 

Choose a Slow-Growing Plant

When picking out a plant for your terrarium, make sure it’s a slow-growing plant. You don’t want them to outgrow their container after a few short weeks. After all, the point of terrariums is to have them displayed for everyone to enjoy with as little maintenance as possible. 

But if you’re willing to manually maintain your terrarium once or twice every week or so, you should buy a plant that thrives in low moisture and low light. Just remember to cut the leaves, branches, and vines before they grow more than their housing space. 

Still Tripped Up By Terrarium Plants?

best closed terrarium plants

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The beauty of terrariums lies in the fact that they allow us to plant all sorts of exotic plant species in the comfort of our homes. 

The plants you use on your terrarium all depends on personal choice. Make sure to get yourself a plant that you’ll love looking at in close range. If you have any additional questions, then feel free to ask them in the comments section. We’d love to help you tastefully curate your terrarium plant collection.