5 Unique Plants for Your Terrarium

Are you looking to add some extra charm to your terrarium? Look no further than aquatic plants! These versatile plants, typically used in freshwater aquariums, can also thrive completely emersed (out of water). This makes them perfect candidates for your terrarium as well. In this article, we’ll explore why semi-aquatic plants are a fantastic choice for your next nature project and provide a list of some of the best plant species to get you started.

Advantages of Using Aquatic Plants in Terrariums

Aquatic plants offer numerous advantages when it comes to terrariums. Let’s take a closer look at why you should consider incorporating them into your setup.

They’re Stable and Reliable

Many aquatic plants are commercially farmed under emersed conditions in sealed pots. This means that they are well-suited to thrive in the moist and humid environment of a terrarium. You can expect these plants to be stable and reliable, making them a hassle-free choice for your nature project.

They’re Often Small and Slow-Growing

The aquascaping industry has cultivated a wide range of small and slow-growing plants specifically designed for aquariums. Fortunately, these plants also meet the needs of a terrarium. Their compact size and slow growth make them perfect for smaller terrariums, adding beauty without overcrowding the space.

They Look Even Better Out of Water

When grown exposed to air, aquatic plants have access to an abundant source of carbon dioxide (CO2). This results in more vibrant and lush foliage compared to their submerged counterparts. By incorporating these plants into your terrarium, you can elevate its visual appeal with stunning and healthy foliage.

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Considerations for Using Aquatic Plants in Terrariums

While there are many benefits to using aquatic plants in terrariums, it’s crucial to keep a few considerations in mind.

Maintaining high humidity is essential for the well-being of semi-aquatic plants in a terrarium or paludarium setup. These plants can quickly dry out and wither in low moisture or low humidity environments. Additionally, the care requirements for these plants may vary based on the specific species and how you choose to plant them.

To ensure the success of your plants, here are some planting options to consider:

  • Attach epiphytic plants directly to hardscape: For semi-aquatic epiphytes that cannot have their rhizomes buried, attaching them directly to rocks or wood is a great option. You can use glue or thread ties to secure them in place. Additionally, for some live plants, small chunks of moist sphagnum moss can be placed beneath them to provide an additional reservoir of moisture.

  • Plant terrestrially: While some aquatic plants can be planted natively in terrarium substrate (e.g., Cryptocoryne), many cannot. Be sure to check the specific care requirements for each plant. Another option is to plant them on top of a moist substrate, allowing them to thrive without being fully submerged.

With any planting method, proper drainage is crucial. Plants that are exposed without direct access to moisture, such as Java Moss applied to a rock, will need to be misted regularly. However, be cautious not to add too much water to the system, as this can affect other plants. The choice of the terrarium also plays a role, as closed terrariums can trap moisture and generate humidity, while vented enclosures may require a professional misting system.

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For more advanced setups, you can explore creative ideas such as running water over your epiphytes via a waterfall or fogger.

The Best Aquatic Plants for Terrariums

Now that you understand the advantages and considerations of using aquatic plants in terrariums, let’s dive into some plant species that are perfect for your nature project.

1. Bolbitis

Bolbitis Difformis

Despite being known as the “Asian Water Fern,” Bolbitis plants thrive out of water as well. With delicate, herb-like fronds, Bolbitis heteroclita adds texture and beauty to various areas of your terrarium. Plant them as epiphytes in the crevices of hardscape branches for a stunning effect. The Mini Bolbitis variety, in particular, is versatile and ideal for smaller terrariums.

2. Cryptocoryne


Cryptocoryne plants naturally adapt to a wide range of water conditions, making them perfect for terrariums. They can be attached to surfaces as epiphytes, both in and out of the water, or planted directly into moist terrarium substrate. The possibilities are endless with Cryptocoryne plants, as they can thrive in any area of your terrarium. Popular options include the small grass-like Cryptocoryne Parva and the vibrant Cryptocoryne Wendtii Green.

3. Anubias

Anubias Pangolino

Anubias plants, known for their stunning dark emerald foliage, add visual contrast to your terrarium. These epiphytic plants need to be attached to hardscape just like underwater. Opting for smaller varieties, such as Anubias Nana Petite, is recommended for most terrariums. For larger varieties, you may need to tie them to hardscape using thread until their strong roots cling onto their surroundings.

4. Bucephalandra


Bucephalandra plants are easy to grow and offer a wide range of diversity in terms of colors and shapes. These compact and slow-growing plants are perfect for terrariums, offering an alternative to orchids. Their strong roots make them great for attaching to challenging hardscape areas. Explore the different varieties available and choose the ones that suit your preferences.

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5. Mosses

Christmas Moss

Semi-aquatic mosses like Java Moss and Christmas Moss can bring your terrarium hardscape to life. Under the right conditions, they form a lush green blanket on driftwood branches and rocks. To keep them happy, ensure your terrarium has a humidity level of 100% at all times. You can mount them on top of sphagnum moss to provide consistent moisture. Larger tank terrariums that are regularly misted or have an atomizer work best for growing mosses.

In conclusion, incorporating aquatic plants into your terrarium is an excellent way to enhance its visual interest and depth. These plants offer unique planting opportunities and can be attached to various elements of your terrarium, from driftwood branches to rocks and even the terrarium background. If you’re looking for a wide selection of fresh aquatic plants, visit Ames Farm Center for a great variety to choose from.

So, get creative and transform your terrarium into a lush oasis with these amazing aquatic plants!