Choosing plants for the florarium

Florariums are one of the most effective ways of landscaping an interior. Decorative, impeccable in appearance, requiring minimal maintenance, but at the same time bringing us closer to nature, like classical plants, these gardens in glass vessels are conquering more and more flower growers and designers. And although decorative elements in florariums of any size are no less important, plants are still the “soul” of mini-terrariums. For such compositions, they really should be special – expressive, bright and stylish.

For general information about the types of florariums, the basic principles of their creation, read the material: Terrariums for plants, or Florariums.

Terrarium. Farmer Anna Karpinski

Diversity of florarium inhabitants

Florariums, combining so many different directions of phytodesign and acting as a symbiosis of the art of growing plants with the art of decoration, can be very different both in size and in the possibilities of growing indoor plants in them. After all, florariums, in which only one single star is planted, and full-fledged imitations of natural landscapes, in which complex compositions of similar species are used, are equally popular, and landscape terrariums are not inferior to decorative varieties. All florariums are equally beautiful: each has its own special and unique option.

The possibilities of planting a large number of plants in the florarium are limited primarily by the size of the container itself. If we are talking about mini florariums that are fashionable today, the size of which is limited by the ability to place a plant terrarium on a coffee table or countertop, in the depths of the interior without disrupting the possibilities of its use, then usually they use from one to 3 plants, with rare exceptions – up to 5 cultures. Large florariums – flower showcases and huge aquariums with plants – allow you to grow dozens of species, but they require a special place, and scrupulous care, and special climate control, giving way today in popularity to much more compact terrariums in decorative vessels.

The main condition for success is that crops must be proportional to capacity, correlate with it, have a beautiful silhouette and details, since plants in the florarium will literally be seen from all sides and all the imperfections of greenery or shape will immediately catch the eye. The maximum plant size for a florarium is usually limited to 20 cm (larger crops can only be used if they can be clipped). When choosing compositions, they carefully study not only the decorative characteristics, but also the preferences of plants for the soil, the requirements for lighting, humidity and care: all the parameters of the “neighbors” in the florarium must match.

The question of choosing the number of plants and their correct combination with each other is important from a purely practical point of view. But when arranging florariums, one should not forget about aesthetics – the search for the most expressive cultures. It is necessary to solve the problem of creating the most attractive composition based not only on one’s own tastes and preferences. The type of terrarium imposes no less restrictions on the range of plants that can be used in it. In accordance with the division of all terrariums into humid tropical and dry desert-mountainous, all crops suitable for decorating plant terrariums are also divided into two groups:

  1. Moisture-loving plants that require stable or high humidity not only for the substrate, but also for air.
  2. Succulents and cacti that are content with minimal resources.

Plants for the florarium do not have to be just indoor plants. They can be either transferred from ordinary potting culture or hydroponics to florariums, or you can look for new species among the plants that are today used in pet stores to decorate paludariums. Of course, you can also use plants that grow in the wild (for example, it is in the forest that you can look for original species of moss and ferns). But cultivated species are preferable even in the process of choosing mosses, otherwise you will have to make a lot of efforts to combat pollution and, accordingly, to disinfect the “wild” inhabitants of florariums.

Terrarium. Farmer romina-ioana

Plants for tropical terrariums

In wet terrariums, not classical, but special, difficult-to-grow plants that require specific conditions are used. Moreover, not all plants that can be used to recreate a forest landscape are capricious and cannot grow in ordinary rooms. But all wet terrarium crops have one thing in common: they love high humidity and require very careful maintenance in a pot culture. To avoid it or to recreate the ideal environment, it is recommended to grow them most often in closed terrariums. And some exotics may even require the installation of climate control systems. Such florariums are more difficult to arrange and maintain precisely because of the choice of plants, but they are also an excellent simplifying solution for those who dream of exotics and especially rare crops, which can be provided with everything they need in the terrarium.

The 10 most popular indoor plants for decorating wet florariums include:

Mini ferns

Asplenum, mnogoryadnik, pteris, maidenhair are good both on their own, and in the company of mosses, and as a background for other plants, and as an openwork addition to more densely growing tropical crops. Carved fronds of ferns in the florarium surprise not only with a lace pattern, but also with the beauty of the silhouette of each leaf, decorate the compositions with some special airiness, which is not so easy to appreciate when grown in pots.

Ferns in the terrarium
Ferns in the terrarium


Most often, classic sphagnum is chosen for florariums, which creates a dense and very bright coating. But the wet florarium is suitable for different types of mosses, which can be found in any pet store and aquarist department, and the choice is not limited either by the degree of “curl” or by color (except for classic greens, you will even find mosses with “metallic” effects). But it will be possible to grow mosses in florariums only if constant humidity and rather damp conditions are maintained in it. It is also advisable to use acidic soil, which must be poured over the general substrate. But mosses go well with most other moisture-loving plants.

Moss in the terrarium
Moss in the terrarium


The brightest in the colors of the patterns is the kind of decorative deciduous plants for florariums. Crotons are known to most flower growers as rather large plants, but besides varieties with massive leathery leaves, there are also more compact varieties with narrow and finer greens (the name of such varieties almost always contains “dwarf”). The color does not suffer from a decrease in size: bright yellow, red, orange in a variety of variations of spots, veins and “erosion” turn each plant into a colorful color miracle.

Croton in the terrarium
Croton in the terrarium. Farmer Laurie Cervantez


A charming representative of the ancient plunks, famous primarily for their compact size. But for florariums, Selaginella is ideal not only because of its ease of control: it adores high humidity and only in the terrarium fully reveals its beauty. Openwork and dense at the same time, its green looks filigree and enchants with its complex structure. And against the background of decorative soil, the beauty and shape of Selaginella are revealed from a completely new side.

Selaginella in the terrarium
Selaginella in the terrarium


They boast an enviable variety. While the most popular species “put up with” indoor conditions, the rarer species require a very specific environment. And the easiest way to grow capricious orchid species is in florariums. Of course, it is possible to mix orchids with other plants, but most often they are grown either in the company of fellows, or in splendid isolation. Florariums with orchids are called in a special way – orchidariums. They require the installation of life support systems, heating and ventilation, but little other method of landscaping can compare with them in prestige and beauty.

Orchids in the terrarium
Orchids in the terrarium. Farmer Laurel LeMaistre

Mini violets

They are often referred to as the main tiny window sill decoration and are usually associated with the potted culture. But they also look great in florariums, where stable conditions of moderate humidity make it possible to achieve a unique abundance of flowers. And their already touching flowers in the company of stone chips, decor, and other plants seem like a precious accent.

Saintpaulia, or Usambara violets in the terrarium
Saintpaulia, or Usambara violets in the terrarium


Unlike alocasia, this plant looks very friendly. This bushy miracle, unique in its unpretentiousness in florariums, loving stable humidity, is rightfully considered one of the best decorative deciduous species. For florariums, ground cover species of Fittonia and the most compact varieties are used. Soft, velvety, somewhat reminiscent of mint, oval-ovoid fittonia leaves are decorated with a delicate pattern – a network of colored veins, turning each plant into a luxurious decoration for any florarium.

Playing on texture, Fittonias go well with decorative materials, with other plants with simple leaf colors and decorative elements. And several different varieties of Fittonia in one florarium look amazing at all. It is the main plant for playing with tissue effects in wet florariums. But it has a drawback – Fittonia will need regular access of fresh air.

Fittonia in the terrarium
Fittonia in the terrarium


These are not at all typical inhabitants of florariums. Capricious, but such beautiful plants with unusual butterfly flowers and very beautiful leaves, are now on sale in both classic and mini varieties. The latter open up completely new possibilities for the design of florariums, since cyclamens in such conditions are able to bloom literally for almost the entire year. They are perfectly combined with all decorative deciduous plants, as if crowning the composition with a bright spot of numerous and very graceful flowers.

Cyclamen in the terrarium
Cyclamen in the terrarium


Rhododendrons in florariums are transforming. Getting a more stable environment, they conquer with a more intense color of charmingly dense glossy leaves, and a longer and more abundant flowering. For florariums, miniature varieties of indoor azaleas are used. Rhododendrons formed in the shape of a sprawling tree are especially effective in such compositions.

Rhododendron, or Azalea
Rhododendron, or Azalea


Alokazii are variegated favorites that allow you to add not only beautiful patterns to the design of florariums, but also daring lines. The dark heart-shaped leaf plates are decorated not only with a pointed tip, but also with an unusual carved edge, and contrasting, almost graphic thick veins give the plant an almost flashy severity. And although these plants are quite large, today there are compact varieties on sale no higher than 30 cm.

Alocasia in the terrarium
Alocasia in the terrarium

If desired, you can decorate the florarium with a humid environment with other bright plants. Today it is easy to find compact Dieffenbachia with bright white and green colors. With velvet leaves and dazzling red flowers, an episode will shine in the florarium. And the representative of exotic bromeliads gusmania, which looks like an exotic bird in the florarium, will reveal its beauty in a new way.

As well as a relative unlike her – cryptantus with star-shaped colorful leaves, ground cover growing with beautiful pillows of saltyrolia, miniature begonias, so suitable for wet landscapes of calamus, modest and hardy saxifrage, openwork asparagus. A dwarf and very “obedient” plant is often used in decoration – the creeping ficus (Ficus pumila) with its rounded leaves up to 1 cm in diameter on flexible creeping shoots, miniature ivy, philodendrons, epipremnums, indoor predators adoring terrarium conditions (sundew, diore, flycatcher , sarracenia), etc.

Desert and Mountain Terrarium Crops

The simplest terrariums to arrange – dry ones – would not be so popular if it were not for the ease of caring for the unique plants that are used in them. For such terrariums, not just plants are selected that will help to recreate desert or mountain landscapes, but only those crops that perfectly tolerate dry conditions, do not require high humidity, and can grow with literally minimal care. Hardy and amazingly viable, these plants allow you to create decorative compositions that require very rare watering. The range of crops suitable for dry terrariums is not as diverse as the variety of plants for tropical terrariums. But even among them you can find original forms, and unusual colors, and a unique individuality.

Terrarium with succulents
Terrarium with succulents. Farmer Cassie

The TOP 10 drought tolerant plants for dry terrariums include:


Cacti (prickly pear, rebutia, echinopsis, notocactus, etc.) in the florarium fully retain their ability to live in almost completely dry conditions. Against the background of a properly selected decor, the beauty of their silhouettes and patterns of thorns is revealed in a new way, and in complex compositions, cacti never seem boring or ordinary. Their presence lends any florarium a desert-like landscape with minimal imitation effort. But in purely decorative florariums, cacti look no worse.

Cacti in the terrarium
Cacti in the terrarium


Rejuvenated – the legendary stone rose, which even in the garden is able to effectively decorate a rocky landscape, and in terrariums it will also look great (in imitating desert and mountain) dry compositions. It is one of the hardiest plants that can survive in extreme conditions. Dense leaves, collected in complex, and really reminiscent of flowers, the rosettes look amazingly ornamental, and the purple tips of the leaves and the play of colors only add to the youthful charm.

Rejuvenated in the terrarium
Rejuvenated in the terrarium. Farmer Strawberry


As well as rejuvenated, this succulent flaunts dense rosettes of leaves like a flower. But they are much more juicy and massive than those of the young, and the colors of the plant, thanks to the gray-silver edge, seem completely different. In Echeveria, the classic fleshy succulent from the Tolstyankov family is easily guessed. It looks very neat and almost perfect, and in florariums all the advantages of a boring plant in pots are fully revealed.

Echeveria in the terrarium
Echeveria in the terrarium


Agave is a succulent with a completely different character. Like her wild ancestors, this beauty is a rather aggressive plant outwardly, in florariums it creates a feeling of inaccessibility and “thorniness”. She alone is able to recreate the charm of the Mexican prairie landscapes. The leaves of the plant are also collected in rosettes with a symmetrical pattern, but their shape does not at all resemble a “tile” of rejuvenated or echeveria. Dense, fleshy, lanceolate, elongated, with a sharp edge, the leaves are decorated with thorns and thorns and flaunt with gray-bluish shades of green colors, and sometimes with an original border or stripe.

Agave in the terrarium
Agave in the terrarium. Farmer Mary McCluskey


Aloe is the most classic, but far from the most boring type of succulents. In addition to the common aloe, which was previously found on almost every windowsill and led to a long period of unpopularity of this plant, there are numerous other decorative species and varieties. Compact bright, with a varied shape of long succulent leaves, different density of rosettes, reduced or full-fledged stems, decorative thorns, modern varieties of aloe are far from monotonous. You can even choose according to the silhouette – from flat rosettes resembling flowers and geometric fractals to almost soddy bushes and trees. (To understand what fractals are, you can look at information about the Romanesco type cabbage, which is very interesting). And all aloes are equally hardy and unpretentious.

Aloe in the terrarium
Aloe in the terrarium


Adromiscus is one of the most “strange” and special representatives of the Tolstyanka. Low-growing succulents with a short recumbent stem, bright red aerial roots became famous for their unusual rounded or triangular, succulent leaves of a bizarre shape. They resemble either pebbles, or tuff, or pieces of lava, or buds, or clubs, or even various representatives of molluscs. The variety of adromiscus is great, all plants seem exotic and evoke vivid associations, their color ranges from pale green to various shades of purple and brick color.

Adromiscus in the terrarium
Adromiscus in the terrarium. Farmer Phil King


Haworthia outwardly can easily pass for a relative of the agave. But it is given out by a dense surface and variegated colors on fleshy leaves in hedgehog rosettes. It is a miniature succulent plant, the collection of which is often compared to fanaticism in the West. This plant has more than 600 different species, with new varieties and forms appearing every year. Different haworthia differ in appearance, but the most popular plants are well known to everyone.

Thick, long, lanceolate leaves with a pointed edge, dark color and a pattern of white transverse “stripes” consisting of warty tubercles form a classic symmetrical rosette. If you want to find original species, you can pay attention to haworthia, similar to young, spider-like, pink-shaped, lace varieties: their variety will allow everyone to easily find their favorite species.

Haworthia in the terrarium
Haworthia in the terrarium


The groundwort became famous mainly thanks to one variety – the super-popular today senezio Rowley, the leaves of which resemble green peas, and on the shoots they create a semblance of luxurious beads. Long thin shoots and some fragility in florariums will not hurt, but they will allow you to effectively drape mini-landscapes, “bring out” shoots outside the vessels and create unexpected transitions.

Rustic, or Senezio Rowley in a mini terrarium
Rustic, or Senezio Rowley in a mini terrarium. Farmer Leah


Kalanchoe can offer a considerable choice between classic flowering varieties, bright and dense inflorescences-shields of which will place unexpected spots in the florarium of succulents. But a flowering plant needs a cool dormant phase, and when grown in a florarium in compositions, it is impossible to organize it. But the decorative leafy Kalanchoe with “ruffles” of miniature children along the edge of dense fleshy leaves is a completely different matter. Against the background of classic succulents, they always look pretentious aristocrats, somewhat prim, rather large and very interesting. Unlike most “rosette” competitors, such a Kalanchoe will form full-fledged bushes and add a play with height and silhouette to the composition.

Kalanchoe in the terrarium
Kalanchoe in the terrarium


Malefora is a relatively unpopular succulent, but it was florariums that revived attention to him. Indeed, in dry compositions, malefora is distinguished not only by a dense growth form, but also by the ability to bloom almost all year round. Low-growing creeping shrubs, the height of which does not exceed 20 cm, capable of producing long shoots, are the main competitors of the ground plants. Leaves accreted at the base with a mealy bloom, most often lingual or spatulate, rather small. The flowers bloom one at a time, very bright, up to 4 cm in diameter, they are typical inflorescences-baskets, slightly reminiscent of flowering cacti.

Малефора. Farmer Vygie Glen Harry

It is worth paying attention to the classic fat women, including the legendary money tree, and the Brazilian wild woman with an extremely unusual rosette of long, drooping serrated leaves, from which a graceful peduncle rises. In florariums, euphorbia is sometimes used – from euphorbia to more rare species, with their original structure of “trunks”, quivering leaves and unusual cycles of development. The most unusual rosettes, which outwardly seem to be a rose flower, are formed by another rare succulent that looks great in desert florariums – greenovia.


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Anna Evans

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