By Erin Marissa Russell
Ready to set up your own bottle terrarium and wondering about the best plants to use? Look no further. We’ve gathered this list of the best plant options for your bottle terrarium so it’ll be easy to choose the ones you like best.
African violets are one of the most popular houseplants in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The diminutive little plants produce really gorgeous blossoms in white, pink, or purple. They’re an excellent candidate for a bottle terrarium because they thrive in humidity. Different varieties have different mature sizes, so make sure the violet you’re choosing won’t outgrow its container. The standard African violets can reach heights of up to 24 inches, while the miniature plants stay under eight inches tall.
For more information, see our article How to Grow and Care for African Violets.
Ajuga is also called by the names bugleweed and carpetweed. They stay under six inches tall, making them the perfect size for a bottle terrarium. There are lots of different varieties that have different foliage colors to choose from. Many of the varieties have deep burgundy foliage, while some are edged in cream or pink. There is even a light silvery green version. The blossoms are a beautiful blue, or they may come in purple, pink, or white, depending on the variety you choose.
The aluminum plant gets its name from the silvery markings on its foliage. It is sometimes also called watermelon Pilea. Too much sunshine will burn the aluminum plant’s leaves with sunscald, so make sure it gets bright indirect light for around four hours per day, no more.
The artillery plant is related to the aluminum plant we just described. It does flower, but the blossoms are not showy, so artillery plant is mostly enjoyed for its pretty foliage. Each stem produces lots of pale green teardrop-shaped leaves. The texture of the foliage is similar to that of a succulent, although the artillery plant is not a succulent.
Baby’s tears plants have lots of common names, including angel’s tears, bits and pieces, bread and cheese, Corsican creeper, Corsican curse, friendship plant, mind-your-own-business, mother of thousands, Paddy’s wig, peace in the home, and pollyanna vine. The creeping, mat-forming plant produces tons and tons of tiny teardrop-shaped leaves. The plants generally stay under two inches tall but can reach heights of up to five inches. They spread much further, however.
Bloodleaf gets its name from the deep burgundy color of its foliage, making it a great choice for adding some contrasting color to your bottle garden. It also goes by the names beef plant, beefsteak plant, and chicken gizzard. The blood red leaves are marked with bright red along the veins. It does flower, but the blossoms are not showy, so this plant is usually grown for its attention-grabbing foliage.
The button fern gets its name from the round shape of the leaves that adorn each arching stem. Each of the dark green leaves has delicately serrated edges. Don’t get the button fern confused with the lemon button fern (Nephrolepsis cordifolia), which is a completely unrelated plant. The button fern loves humidity, making the bottle terrarium a perfect environment for it.
There are lots of carnivorous plants to choose from, with Venus flytraps, sundews, butterworts, and pitcher plants with their otherworldly shapes. All carnivorous plants thrive in humidity, which means they’ll do quite well in a bottle terrarium. Just choose the variety you like the best.
Find out more with our article How to Grow Carnivorous Plants.
This plant is also called the climbing fig. It starts out as a slow grower and will pick up speed as the plant matures. You’ll love its small heart-shaped leaves, some of which are edged in white. Be advised that the sap of the creeping fig can cause skin irritation, so you’ll want to wear gardening gloves when you’re working with it. It can cause severe irritation of the intestines, mouth, and throat of pets if it is consumed, so make sure to grow it where pets cannot reach it. (That makes the bottle terrarium an especially good option, since it has a lid.)
Croton plants have some of the most eye-catching, colorful foliage you can find. Choose from varieties streaked with red, yellow, green, and white. Choose a dwarf variety, and plant in a large terrarium. Croton plants do not usually grow higher than three feet tall when mature.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Croton Plants (Codiaeum variegatum).
Earth star plants are prized for their bright red or pink color and the ribbony texture of their foliage. Each of the long, grasslike blades is slightly curled at the edges, making earth star a great way to add color and texture interest to your bottle terrarium. The different varieties have different mature sizes, ranging from three inches to three feet tall, so make sure to choose a variety that will fit into your bottle terrarium.
East Indian holly ferns will add contrasting color and texture to your bottle terrarium. The delicate fronds of the East Indian holly fern are each brushed with a golden stripe down the center of the leaf. Use a large bottle terrarium, as these plants can reach 18 inches tall.
The flame violet gets its name from the blazing red color of its blossoms, but that isn’t all this plant has to offer. The foliage is also a showstopper, with coppery brown leaves mottled with chartreuse. It has a long flowering season, from spring to fall. The mature size of the flame violet is eight inches to one foot tall, with a one-foot to two-foot spread.
The golden polypody also goes by the names of cabbage palm fern or hare foot fern. The large blue-green leaves are deeply lobed and go a long way toward providing textural interest when contrasted with the other plants in your bottle terrarium. Keep this plant out of direct sunlight. It prefers dappled or partial shade.
The tiny teardrop-shaped leaves of the maidenhair fern are clustered delicately on the plant’s thin black stems. Although it can be hard to give the maidenhair fern the conditions it needs to thrive when it’s grown as a houseplant, the humidity and contained environment of the bottle terrarium grows it quite well. The mature size of the maidenhair fern is between one and two feet tall, with the same spread.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum).
Mosses are one of the plants best suited to life in a bottle terrarium. They don’t need much soil or light and thrive in the damp terrarium conditions. There are lots of moss varieties you can choose from, each with pillowy green foliage. You can combine a few types of moss in a bottle terrarium for a moss-only display or pair your mosses with other plants.
You’ll find nerve plant also referred to as mosaic plant or painted net leaf. The beauty of the nerve plant comes from the contrasting colors of the veins on each leaf. The foliage of the nerve plant is deep green, and different varieties are accented with veins in green, pink, silver, red, or white, depending on which variety you choose. They’re perfectly sized for bottle terrariums, with a mature height between three and six inches tall. The spread can reach between 12 inches and 18 inches.
Oxalis is also known as the lucky shamrock plant because of the unique shape of its leaves. It does come in green but is most often seen in its deep purple variety. The white or pink flowers contrast deeply with the dark purple foliage. At maturity, oxalis can reach 10 inches tall and 10 inches wide. No other plant looks quite like oxalis, so it’s sure to stand in unique contrast to the plants around it in your bottle terrarium.
Peperomia is sometimes called the radiator plant. The heart-shaped leaves have deep ridges, which makes the foliage of peperomia uniquely textured. The color is unique as well, with blue green leaves and deep green veins. You’ll even find some peperomia plants that have leaves edged in red. From summer to early fall, the plant produces tall, slender white flowering spikes that emerge from the base of the plant on red-purple stems.
One of the most uniquely patterned plants in the garden, the polka dot plant will be right at home in the habitat of a bottle terrarium. The brightly colored, cheerfully patterned plants come in colors that include pink, green, purple, white, and red. Their mature size is one to two feet tall with the same spread.
Pothos will be best in large bottle terrariums, because this quickly growing plant likes to spread out. Pothos is one of the simplest plants to grow and even outside of the terrarium environment does not require a lot of care from the gardener. In addition to the regular green variety, you’ll also find pothos with golden leaves or variegated types that combine green and yellow.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Pothos Plant (Devil’s Ivy).
Maranta is sometimes called the peacock plant because of its ornate foliage. Each dark green leaf has a wavy light green central stripe and red lines that run along the veins of the plant. But the most interesting thing about the prayer plant is the motion from which it got its name. At the end of the day, the leaves of the prayer plant fold together like hands in prayer. The prayer plant can reach heights from 10 to 15 inches tall with a spread 15 to 18 inches wide.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Prayer Plant (Maranta).
The rabbit’s foot fern is one of the most unique plants in the garden. In addition to the delicate fronds of the fern, it also produces fuzzy creeping ribosomes that give the plant its name. These come in white or brown, depending on variety. The rabbit’s foot fern is an especially hardy fern that will thrive in a bottle terrarium.
Spiderwort is best suited for large terrariums, because the mature plants can reach heights between one foot and three feet tall. The spread of the mature plant is between one foot and one and a half feet wide. It’s sometimes called Virginia spiderwort or widow’s tears. The long, grasslike leaves are topped with purple flowers that have three petals in spring and summer.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Spiderwort.
Although the strawberry begonia does produce beautiful flowers, you’ll appreciate its gorgeous foliage all year long in a bottle terrarium. The rounded, ruffled leaves are deep green with pale silvery markings and a red underside. From the end of spring to the beginning of summer, the delicate pinkish white flowers appear on stems that rise 18 inches above the leaves. The height of the mature plants won’t exceed 18 inches, and plants can spread from one foot to two feet wide.
You can mix and match the plants on this list to create the perfect combination for your bottle terrarium. The key is contrast—choose plants with contrasting sizes, colors, and textures for the most interesting and beautiful terrarium display.