10 terrarium ideas for a beautiful plant display

These terrarium ideas are easy to recreate and give plenty of room for experimenting with different plant types

Large Tank Terrarium Kit, Etsy
(Image credit: Etsy)

Terrariums offer one of the easiest ways to combine growing indoor plants with interior decor. Sleek, modern, and minimalist, terrariums fit into most home decorating schemes and come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Here we explore the many different ways you can style your terrarium, from the simplest single-plant designs to elaborate miniature gardens and even seascapes. 

Find out how to make a terrarium in our guide and consult out best indoor plants buyer's guide if you want even more house plants. 

1. Start with simple, single-plant terrariums

Glass terrariums from Etsy

(Image credit: Etsy)

The easiest way to get into designing your own terrarium it to purchase simple kits that include one plant per terrarium. These will typically be succulents, which are very low-maintenance and will hardly need any watering. Single-plant terrariums also look contemporary and sleek and look good displayed on desks and coffee tables. 

2. Add lights to a simple terrarium 

Copper Coffee Gem Terrarium With LED Lights, The Urban Botanist

(Image credit: The Urban Botanist)

If you want to make a simple, single-plant terrarium a little bit more special, then micro LED lights are the way to go. Look for micro LEDs specifically, because ordinary fairy lights are likely to be too large; you'll also need something battery operated, and the battery pack is best covered with moss. 

Illuminated Glass DIY Terrarium, Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Alternatively, consider the lovely Terrarium Glass Vase from Lights4fun – it has an LED light and battery pack built into the cork lid. 

3. It's not all about succulents

Supersize Copper Gem Terrarium

Supersize Copper Gem Terrarium, The urban Botanist

(Image credit: The Urban Botanist)

Not that keen on succulents? There are quite a few more plants you can successfully grow in a terrarium, including some tropical plants, ferns, carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap, and, perhaps most spectacularly, orchids. Orchids love growing in rocks, sand, and open moss, so a terrarium is actually a pretty good environment for it. Just make sure it has ventilation and access to bright indirect light. 

Learn how to care for orchids in our guide. 

4. Experiment with micro terrariums

Tiny Terrarium Kit

(Image credit: Etsy)

Tiny terrariums are a thing now, and they make for excellent gifts, or are a great choice for keeping on a small desk or a shelf next to your workspace. They're a bit like tiny landscape capsules and really stimulate the imagination: you can daydream about walking in the woods while taking a break from your computer screen. 

5. Recreate a sea landscape in a terrarium

Pixie Glare Hanging Terrarium Ocean Scene

(Image credit: Etsy)

If you have a nautical theme going on at home, or even if you just miss being by the seaside in summer, creating a seascape in your terrarium couldn't be easier. Opt for white sand instead of pebbles and add seashells. You can also choose moss that look like seagrass. Both succulents and air plants will happily live inside sea shells. 

6. Add miniature figures for a cute fairytale effect

Glass Wall Hanging Terrariums Bowl

(Image credit: Etsy)

If you want to start taking your terrariums to the next level, you can build whole miniature scenes with figures. It can be something as simple as a forest scene with little mushrooms (see above), or a complex urban park landscape with figurine of people. There are infinite combination to choose from; the only downside is that the miniature figurines tend to be made from plastic.

7. Create a mini rock garden in your terrarium

TerraLiving Preserved Moss Terrarium, Etsy

(Image credit: Etsy/TerraLiving)

If you're fond of rock gardens but can't have one in your garden (or don't have a garden), a Zen rock garden terrarium is very easy to make. All you really need is moss and miniature rocks or pebbles. The rest is up to your imagination and taste – and remembering to keep your moss well watered. 

8. Create a hanging terrarium display

Air Plant Glass Terrarium Kit, Etsy

(Image credit: Etsy)

Hanging terrariums, with loops for rope, look stunning displayed in a bright kitchen, living room, or, in the summer, on your porch or patio. The best plants for a handing terrarium are air plants – they require no soil and only need to be watered once every couple of weeks.

9. Consider open terrariums

Large Tank Terrarium Kit, Etsy

(Image credit: Etsy)

Not all terrariums are closed or even semi-closed; in fact, for succulents, open terrariums are a far better environment that allow for air circulation. Tropical plants will thrive in a humid, closed terrarium, but if you're only growing cacti and succulents, consider open containers. You'll still have the minimalist look of a glass terrarium, but the plants will grow better and look nice when they've grown taller than the terrarium walls. 

10. Christmas terrarium ideas

Christmas Terrariums, Dobbies Garden Centres

Christmas Terrariums, Dobbies Garden Centres 

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Restyling your terrarium for Christmas is so simple: just add a few mini Christmas baubles and a kalanchoe, which is one of our favourite winter flowers and is a succulent, which makes it perfectly suited to the terrarium environment. Go for white or red ones for a really Christmassy look. 

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.