Exploring the Diverse World of Terrariums: A Comprehensive Guide

Terrariums have been a popular method of indoor gardening for decades, and it’s no wonder why. These self-sustaining miniature ecosystems bring a touch of nature into our homes, while also being low maintenance and easy to care for. But did you know that there are different types of terrariums? From desert to rainforest, each type offers a unique and captivating experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the diverse world of terrariums and discover the different types that exist. Get ready to embark on a journey into the enchanting world of these miniature gardens!

What are Terrariums?

Definition and History

Brief overview of terrarium history

Terrariums have been around for centuries, with the earliest known examples dating back to the Victorian era. During this time, wealthy Europeans and Americans created small gardens in glass containers as a way to showcase their exotic plant collections. These miniature gardens were often kept indoors and were used to mimic the conditions of the natural environment.

The modern terrarium movement

The modern terrarium movement can be traced back to the 1970s, when the practice of creating enclosed ecosystems became popular among houseplant enthusiasts. This movement was fueled by a growing interest in conservation and sustainability, as well as a desire to bring nature into the home. Today, terrariums have become a popular way to create unique and beautiful indoor environments, and are enjoyed by people all over the world.

Types of Terrariums

Miniature Gardens

Miniature gardens are perhaps the most well-known type of terrarium. These small, self-contained ecosystems are designed to mimic the growth patterns and environmental conditions of larger gardens. They often feature a diverse range of plants, arranged in a visually appealing manner. The goal is to create a miniature world that is both aesthetically pleasing and educational. Miniature gardens can be used to illustrate a wide range of concepts, from the life cycle of plants to the interconnectedness of different species.


Vivariums are a type of terrarium that includes both plants and animals. They are often used to create small-scale ecosystems that demonstrate the interactions between different species. Vivariums can be designed to replicate a variety of environments, from tropical rainforests to deserts. They often require careful management to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem.


Paludariums are a type of terrarium that combines aquatic and terrestrial environments. They typically feature a shallow pool of water surrounded by land-based plants and animals. This creates a unique environment where the inhabitants can interact with both the water and the land. Paludariums can be used to illustrate a wide range of concepts, from the importance of water in an ecosystem to the ways in which different species adapt to their environment.


Hydroterrariums are a type of terrarium that is primarily water-based. They are designed to replicate the conditions of a larger body of water, such as a pond or a river. Hydroterrariums often include a variety of aquatic plants and animals, and they can be used to illustrate the complex interactions between different species in a water-based ecosystem. They require careful management to maintain the balance of the ecosystem, but they can be a fascinating and educational addition to any terrarium collection.

Choosing the Right Terrarium for You

Key takeaway: Terrariums are self-sustaining ecosystems that have been popular for centuries, with a modern movement fueled by conservation and sustainability interests. There are various types of terrariums, including miniature gardens, vivariums, paludariums, and hydroterrariums, each with their unique features and requirements. When choosing a terrarium, consider factors such as plant selection, lighting requirements, size and space, and water features. Proper maintenance involves monitoring water and humidity levels, feeding and pruning, cleaning and repotting, and ensuring a healthy balance of the ecosystem. Terrarium enthusiasts can join online forums and social media groups, attend workshops and classes, and organize local events to build a community and learn from each other. Long-term maintenance strategies include regular monitoring of moisture levels, pH levels, lighting, and fertilization, pruning, and removing dead or dying plant material. Conservation is crucial in terrarium care to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem, preserve endangered species, support sustainable practices, and ensure ethical treatment of animals.

Factors to Consider

Plant Selection

When choosing a terrarium, one of the most crucial factors to consider is the plant selection. It is important to choose plants that are well-suited to the conditions of the terrarium, such as the lighting, humidity, and soil. For example, some plants thrive in high humidity environments, while others prefer drier conditions. It is also important to consider the size and growth habit of the plants, as well as their compatibility with other plants in the terrarium. Some popular plant options for terrariums include ferns, mosses, and small flowering plants.

Lighting Requirements

Another important factor to consider when choosing a terrarium is the lighting requirements of the plants. Some plants need bright, direct light to thrive, while others prefer low light conditions. It is important to choose a terrarium that provides the appropriate lighting for the plants you have chosen. This can be achieved by selecting plants that are well-suited to the lighting conditions of the terrarium, or by using artificial lighting to supplement natural light.

Size and Space

The size and space of the terrarium is also an important factor to consider. Terrariums come in a range of sizes, from small, desktop-sized containers to large, floor-to-ceiling structures. It is important to choose a terrarium that is appropriate for the size and number of plants you plan to include. Additionally, it is important to consider the space where the terrarium will be placed, as it should have enough room to breathe and not be too cramped.

Water Features

Finally, water features can be an exciting addition to a terrarium. Water features such as a small waterfall or stream can help to regulate humidity and create a more dynamic and interesting environment for the plants. However, it is important to consider the size and capacity of the water feature, as well as the location of the terrarium, when choosing a terrarium with a water feature. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the water feature is properly maintained to prevent any potential issues with mold or bacteria.

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How to Create Your Own Terrarium

Creating your own terrarium is a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to personalize your own little world. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to create your own terrarium:

Step 1: Choose a Container

The first step in creating your own terrarium is to choose a container. The container you choose will depend on the size of your terrarium and the plants you plan to include. A glass jar or an acrylic box are good options, but you can also use a plastic container or even a large glass bottle. Make sure the container is clean and has no cracks or holes.

Step 2: Select Your Plants

The next step is to select your plants. When choosing plants for your terrarium, consider the light, water, and soil requirements of each plant. It’s important to choose plants that are compatible with each other and will thrive in the same environment. Some popular terrarium plants include ferns, mosses, and succulents.

Step 3: Layer Your Soil

After selecting your plants, it’s time to layer your soil. Start with a layer of large rocks or gravel at the bottom of the container to provide drainage. Next, add a layer of coarse sand or small stones. This layer will help to prevent the soil from becoming compacted and will also help to regulate moisture levels. Finally, add a layer of potting soil or peat moss to provide nutrients for your plants.

Step 4: Arrange Your Plants

Once you have layered your soil, it’s time to arrange your plants. Start by placing the largest plants in the back of the terrarium and the smaller plants in the front. This will create a natural-looking arrangement and ensure that all of your plants receive the light and water they need. Use your fingers or a small trowel to dig into the soil and position your plants.

Step 5: Add Water

After arranging your plants, it’s time to add water. Depending on the type of plants you have chosen, you may need to add water every few days or once a week. Be sure to use a spray bottle to mist the top of the soil, rather than pouring water directly onto the plants. This will help to prevent overwatering and ensure that all of your plants receive an even amount of moisture.

Step 6: Add Decorations

Finally, you can add decorations to your terrarium. This can include small rocks, pebbles, or even miniature figurines. These decorations can help to create a unique and personalized look for your terrarium.

Creating your own terrarium is a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to personalize your own little world. By following these simple steps, you can create a beautiful and thriving terrarium that will bring you joy for years to come.

Terrarium Maintenance

Water and Humidity Levels

Terrarium maintenance begins with monitoring the water and humidity levels within the enclosed environment. It is crucial to ensure that the water level remains consistent, as the ecosystem relies on it for humidity regulation. An ideal terrarium should maintain a relative humidity between 50% and 70%, which can be achieved by keeping the water level at the base of the plants. The water should be refreshed periodically to prevent the buildup of organic matter and maintain a healthy environment for the plants and animals.

Feeding and Pruning

Proper terrarium maintenance also involves feeding and pruning the plants to encourage healthy growth and prevent overgrowth. Feeding your plants with a balanced fertilizer can promote healthy growth and improve the overall appearance of your terrarium. It is essential to use a fertilizer that is suitable for the specific plants in your terrarium to avoid harming them. Pruning is also crucial to maintain the aesthetic appeal of your terrarium and prevent overgrowth, which can lead to poor air circulation and humidity levels. Regular pruning can help to keep the plants in your terrarium healthy and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

Cleaning and Repotting

Cleaning and repotting are essential aspects of terrarium maintenance. Regular cleaning helps to remove any dead leaves or debris that can accumulate and negatively impact the overall health of your terrarium. This can be done by gently removing the plants from the terrarium and cleaning the substrate and walls with a soft brush or cloth. Repotting is also necessary when the plants outgrow their current containers or when the substrate becomes depleted of nutrients. When repotting, it is essential to carefully remove the plants from their existing containers and transfer them to new ones with fresh substrate. Proper terrarium maintenance ensures that your terrarium remains a thriving ecosystem for years to come.

Terrarium Design and Display Ideas

Themed Terrariums

Japanese-Inspired Terrariums

When it comes to Japanese-inspired terrariums, there are a variety of options to choose from. One popular choice is a traditional Zen garden terrarium, which features a small landscape of rocks, sand, and carefully placed plants. These terrariums are often small and simple, but they can be incredibly beautiful and calming to look at. Another option is a bonsai terrarium, which incorporates miniature bonsai trees and other plants into a small landscape. These terrariums are a great way to showcase your love of bonsai culture, while also creating a unique and interesting display.

Tropical Terrariums

Tropical terrariums are a great way to bring a little bit of the tropics into your home. These terrariums are filled with lush green plants, brightly colored flowers, and sometimes even small animals like frogs or birds. They are a great way to create a tropical paradise in your own home, no matter where you live. Some popular plants for tropical terrariums include banana trees, hibiscus, and bromeliads.

Miniature Desert Landscapes

Miniature desert landscapes are a great way to bring the beauty of the desert into your home. These terrariums are filled with cacti, succulents, and other desert plants, and they are often designed to look like a small slice of the desert. They are a great way to create a unique and interesting display, and they are also low maintenance, making them a great option for busy people. Some popular plants for desert terrariums include aloe vera, jade plants, and prickly pear cactus.

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Displaying Your Terrarium

When it comes to displaying your terrarium, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, you’ll want to choose an ideal space for your terrarium. This will depend on the size and type of terrarium you have, as well as the climate and humidity requirements of the plants and animals inside. For example, if you have a small terrarium with low humidity requirements, you might choose to display it on a windowsill or in a sunny spot in your home. On the other hand, if you have a large terrarium with high humidity requirements, you might choose to display it in a bathroom or kitchen, where the humidity is typically higher.

Once you’ve chosen an ideal space for your terrarium, it’s time to think about how to showcase your terrarium collection. This might involve displaying your terrariums in a particular order or grouping them together in a way that highlights their unique features and characteristics. For example, you might choose to display your terrariums by size, with the largest terrarium in the center and the smaller terrariums around the edges. Alternatively, you might choose to group your terrariums by theme, such as displaying all of your desert-themed terrariums together or all of your jungle-themed terrariums together.

No matter how you choose to display your terrarium collection, it’s important to keep in mind that the key to a successful terrarium display is to create a cohesive and visually appealing arrangement. This might involve using similar colors and textures, or arranging your terrariums in a way that creates a natural progression or flow. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can create a stunning and unique terrarium display that showcases your love of these fascinating miniature ecosystems.

Terrarium Communities and Events

Online Communities


Terrarium enthusiasts from all over the world gather on various online forums to discuss and share their knowledge, experiences, and ideas about terrarium making. Some popular forums include Reddit’s r/terrariums and The Terrarium Community on Facebook. These platforms offer a space for like-minded individuals to exchange information, ask questions, and seek advice from experienced terrarium makers. They also serve as a platform for terrarium enthusiasts to showcase their work and receive feedback from the community.

Social Media Groups

In addition to forums, social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook also host various terrarium-related groups. These groups are dedicated to sharing pictures and information about terrariums, and often feature tutorials, DIY projects, and inspiration for creating unique and beautiful terrarium designs. Many terrarium makers use these platforms to share their work and connect with other terrarium enthusiasts from around the world.

Terrarium-Related Events

Workshops and Classes

  • In-person workshops and classes that teach the basics of terrarium-making and offer hands-on experience
  • Online classes that cover different aspects of terrarium-making, such as design, plant selection, and maintenance
  • Specialized workshops that focus on specific types of terrariums, such as succulent or moss terrariums

Terrarium Shows and Exhibitions

  • Annual terrarium shows that feature displays of various types of terrariums and showcase the work of professional and amateur terrarium makers
  • Exhibitions that focus on specific themes, such as terrariums and urban gardening or terrariums and sustainability
  • Trade shows that feature vendors selling terrarium-related products, such as containers, plants, and accessories

Networking Opportunities

  • Meetups and social events that bring together terrarium enthusiasts to share knowledge and ideas
  • Online forums and social media groups where terrarium makers can connect and share their work
  • Professional organizations that offer networking opportunities and resources for terrarium makers and sellers

Building a Terrarium Community

Collaborating with Other Enthusiasts

Collaborating with other enthusiasts is an excellent way to expand your knowledge and share your expertise. You can start by reaching out to local plant societies or garden clubs and offering to give a presentation on terrariums. You can also participate in online forums and social media groups dedicated to terrariums, where you can ask questions, share your experiences, and offer advice to others. By collaborating with other enthusiasts, you can learn new techniques, get inspiration for your own terrariums, and build relationships with like-minded individuals.

Organizing Local Events

Organizing local events is another way to build a terrarium community. You can organize a terrarium-making workshop, where participants can learn how to create their own terrariums, or a terrarium-themed plant swap, where participants can trade plants and share knowledge. You can also organize a terrarium exhibit, where participants can showcase their terrariums and learn from each other. By organizing local events, you can bring together terrarium enthusiasts in your community, create a sense of community, and foster a love for terrariums.

Terrarium Care and Conservation

Ensuring the Health of Your Terrarium

Maintaining a healthy terrarium is essential for the survival and thriving of its inhabitants. In this section, we will discuss some common issues that may arise and provide solutions to address them. Additionally, we will touch on long-term maintenance strategies to ensure the longevity of your terrarium.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. To avoid this issue, ensure that you are using well-draining soil and only water your terrarium when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch.
  • Underwatering: Underwatering can cause wilting and ultimately lead to the death of your plants. It is crucial to monitor the moisture levels in your terrarium and water when necessary.
  • pH Imbalance: The pH level of your terrarium’s soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5. If the pH is too low, you may need to add lime to the soil, while if it is too high, you may need to add peat moss.
  • Inadequate Lighting: Plants need sufficient light to photosynthesize and grow. Ensure that your terrarium is receiving the appropriate amount of light for the plants you have chosen.
  • Insufficient Nutrients: If your plants are not growing or are showing signs of nutrient deficiency, you may need to fertilize them. Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
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Long-Term Maintenance

To ensure the long-term health of your terrarium, it is essential to follow proper maintenance practices. These include:

  • Regularly monitoring the moisture levels and watering as needed.
  • Periodically checking the pH levels of the soil and making adjustments as necessary.
  • Providing adequate lighting for your plants.
  • Fertilizing your plants according to their needs.
  • Pruning and deadheading plants to maintain a healthy and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
  • Removing any dead or dying plant material to prevent the spread of disease.

By following these long-term maintenance strategies, you can ensure that your terrarium remains healthy and thriving for years to come.

The Importance of Conservation

Conservation is an essential aspect of terrarium care as it ensures the sustainability of these miniature ecosystems. Here are some reasons why conservation is crucial in terrarium care:

Maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem

Terrariums are self-sustaining ecosystems that require careful attention to maintain their delicate balance. Conservation efforts aim to preserve this balance by ensuring that the terrarium’s inhabitants are well-suited to their environment and that the ecosystem’s components are well-integrated. By preserving this balance, terrarium owners can prevent the extinction of species and maintain the overall health of the terrarium.

Preserving endangered species

Some terrarium species are endangered, and conservation efforts are necessary to prevent their extinction. By carefully selecting and breeding endangered species, terrarium owners can help to maintain their population and ensure their survival. This can also help to educate the public about the importance of conservation and the role that terrariums can play in preserving biodiversity.

Supporting sustainable practices

Conservation is also important in supporting sustainable practices in terrarium care. By using sustainable materials and practices, terrarium owners can reduce their environmental impact and promote sustainable living. This can include using recycled materials, reducing waste, and supporting local suppliers.

Ensuring ethical practices

Finally, conservation is important in ensuring ethical practices in terrarium care. This includes ensuring that animals are treated humanely and that their welfare is prioritized. By following ethical guidelines and practices, terrarium owners can ensure that their terrariums are sustainable and that they are doing their part to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity.

Contributing to the Terrarium Community

Sharing Your Knowledge

As a terrarium enthusiast, you likely have a wealth of knowledge and experience that you can share with others. One way to do this is by writing articles or creating videos about your terrarium experiences. This can help to educate others about the benefits of terrariums and inspire them to create their own. Additionally, you can share your expertise by answering questions on terrarium forums or social media groups.

Supporting Terrarium-Related Charities

There are many charities that focus on conservation and sustainability efforts, and supporting these organizations can help to protect the environment and promote the use of terrariums as a means of conservation. Some examples of organizations you can support include the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation. By donating to these organizations, you can help to protect the planet and support the use of terrariums as a means of conservation.


1. What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is a small, enclosed ecosystem that recreates a natural environment. It typically consists of a container with a lid, containing soil, plants, and sometimes animals, which are able to thrive in the conditions created within the terrarium.

2. What are the different types of terrariums?

There are several types of terrariums, including:
* Desert terrariums: These feature desert plants such as cacti and succulents, and often include sand or gravel as a substrate.
* Rainforest terrariums: These feature tropical plants and often include a layer of moss or soil as a substrate.
* French terrariums: These are enclosed glass containers with a lid, often containing a selection of small plants and rocks or gravel as a substrate.
* Miniature terrariums: These are small terrariums that can be kept on a desk or windowsill, and are often designed to be low maintenance.

3. How do I choose the right type of terrarium for me?

The type of terrarium you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the conditions in your home. Consider the light, humidity, and temperature requirements of the plants you want to include, as well as the size and style of the terrarium. It’s also a good idea to consider the maintenance requirements of different types of terrariums, as some may require more care than others.

4. Can I create my own terrarium?

Yes, creating your own terrarium is a fun and rewarding project. You can choose the plants, animals, and decorations that you want to include, and create a unique ecosystem that will thrive in your home. Be sure to research the specific requirements of the plants and animals you want to include, and create a suitable environment for them to thrive.

5. How do I care for my terrarium?

The care requirements for a terrarium will depend on the specific plants and animals you have included. However, some general tips for caring for a terrarium include:
* Keeping the lid closed to maintain humidity
* Providing adequate light for the plants
* Watering the plants and animals as needed
* Checking the soil moisture level and adjusting as needed
* Trimming plants as needed to maintain size and shape
* Removing any dead or dying plants or animals

6. Can I change the plants or animals in my terrarium?

Yes, you can change the plants or animals in your terrarium at any time. Simply remove the existing plants or animals, and replace them with new ones. Be sure to research the specific requirements of the plants and animals you want to include, and create a suitable environment for them to thrive.

7. How long do terrariums last?

The lifespan of a terrarium will depend on the specific plants and animals you have included, as well as the conditions in your home. With proper care, a terrarium can last for many years. However, some plants and animals may eventually die or become unsightly, and you may choose to replace them or start a new terrarium.

How To Make A Terrarium | A Beginners Guide

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