How to Make an Open Terrarium Plants with Succulents and Other Best Plants
Terrariums have become increasingly popular over the last few years as a fun way to bring a little bit of nature indoors. These miniature gardens enclosed in glass containers create a unique environment for growing plants. While closed terrariums that retain humidity are ideal for tropical plants, open terrariums with more airflow suit arid plants like cacti and succulents. In this DIY terrarium guide, I’ll walk through everything you need to know about open terrarium – from choosing the best plants to designing and caring for these tiny ecosystems. So let’s get started on bringing some botanical paradise into your home!
Understanding Open Terrarium
An open terrarium is one that does not have a tightly fitted lid. This allows for ample airflow and prevents the buildup of condensation inside the container. The relatively drier environment suits plants that prefer arid conditions, including many succulents and cacti.
Some key benefits of an open terrarium are:
- Better airflow circulation
- Lower humidity
- Less chance of pests and diseases
- Easier access for pruning and care
- Ideal for arid-loving plants like succulents and cacti
Open terrariums typically have higher evaporation rates and require more frequent watering than closed terrariums. The soil also dries out faster. But the open design makes them easier to access and care for.
Succulents and cacti are perfect choices for open terrariums as they thrive in dry, well-drained soil and require less frequent watering. Other great options include air plants, herbs, mosses, and drought-tolerant houseplants.
Best Plants for Open Terrarium Plants
When choosing plants for an open terrarium, opt for varieties that enjoy arid conditions and infrequent watering. Here are some top recommendations:
1. Succulents in an open terrarium
- Jade plant – An incredibly versatile succulent. Its ability to survive a wide range of conditions is what makes it so great for open terrariums. The jade plant grows slowly, making it an ideal small-scale houseplant.
- Burro’s tail – Known for its trailing stems covered in plump teardrop-shaped leaves. It prefers plenty of light.
- Echeveria – Low-growing succulents with stunning rosette shapes. They flourish with occasional watering and bright light. Popular varieties include Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg’ and Echeveria ‘Lola’.
- Aloe vera – A classic succulent that thrives with minimal watering. It features thick, fleshy leaves that can heal cuts and burns too.
- Haworthia – Small, unique succulents that resemble aloes but stay compact. Easy to grow in terrariums.
- Mammillaria – Tiny ball-shaped cacti with soft spikes make perfect terrarium specimens. They grow slowly and need little care.
- Gymnocalycium – Groundcover cacti that produce pretty flowers. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Varieties like ‘Baldianum’ work well.
- Rebutia – Cute mini cacti that bloom in summer. Provide strong light. Rebutia ‘Mariposa’ is a popular choice.
- Notocactus – Scaly or fuzzy cacti that remain small. Water sparingly and give them lots of sun.
3. Air Plants
Air plants or tillandsias make fantastic open terrarium additions as they don’t require soil and handle irregular watering well. For best results, choose small air plant species and provide adequate airflow. Soak them once or twice a week.
Miniature herb varieties like thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary grow well in open terrariums. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and trim regularly.
Different mosses like mood moss or spikemoss make excellent terrarium floor covers. They help retain some humidity while tolerating drier conditions.
Select small houseplant varieties that enjoy arid conditions like sansevieria, ZZ plants, or spider plants. Let the soil dry before watering again.
For a deeper dive into the types of plants that excel in terrariums, check out this comprehensive guide on terrarium types.
Easy Steps to Make an Open Terrarium Plants
Follow these step-by-step guide to build your own open terrarium:
1. Choose a Glass Container
Select a wide, shallow open glass container so your plants get adequate airflow and light exposure. Small fish tanks, large glass bowls, and geo-domes work very well. Ensure there is ample height to accommodate plant growth.
2. Add a Drainage Layer
Cover the bottom with a 0.5-1 inch layer of gravel, pebbles, or horticultural charcoal to allow for drainage and prevent soil from spilling into the reservoir.
3. Use a Well-Draining Soil Mix
Use a commercial cactus and succulent soil mix or make your own blend using equal parts potting soil, coarse sand, perlite, and small gravel or pumice. The soil should be loose and gritty.
4. Arrange Plants Attractively
Artfully arrange the plants you’ve selected inside the terrarium using principles of design like symmetry, contrast, repetition, and massing. Feel free to get creative with hardscapes too.
5. Finish with Decorations
Add decorative elements like rocks, wood, moss, and accessories to complete your mini garden. But don’t overcrowd the space.
Terrarium Care – Easy to Care!
Open terrariums are relatively easy to maintain but they do require some specialized care:
Check the soil moisture before water the terrarium. Allow it to dry out slightly between waterings but don’t let plants shrivel. Water deeply but infrequently. The frequency depends on factors like temperature, humidity, and plant types.
Place open terrariums near a bright, sunny window where plants get adequate light for growth and flowering. Rotate periodically for even sun exposure. Supplement with grow lights if needed.
3. Pruning & Grooming
Trim back wayward growth to keep plants compact and tidy. Gently remove any dead or damaged foliage promptly. Also, wipe the glass walls periodically to allow optimal light penetration.
4. Managing Pests
Avoid overwatering and ensure adequate airflow to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases. Insect infestations are rare in open terrariums but can be tackled by pruning affected parts, using insecticidal soap, or repotting plants.
During the growing season, use a balanced liquid fertilizer at half strength once a month to nourish your plants. But cease feeding in winter or when plants are dormant.
Creating an open terrarium is an enjoyable way to flex your green thumb and add a unique living ornament to your home. With a glass container, drainage materials, gritty soil mix, and a choice selection of arid-loving plants like succulents, cacti, or air plants, you can easily assemble a low-maintenance mini garden. Place your terrarium in bright, indirect light, water only when the soil dries, and provide occasional grooming and fertilizer. Before long, you’ll have a thriving indoor oasis!
So try your hand at assembling one of these delightful botanical paradises. Not only do they look great but care for your open terrarium can be quite therapeutic too. And soon you might find yourself hooked on these petite indoor gardens brimming with plant life.