How To Care For A Terrarium With Cacti And Tropical Plants

Here’s how to care for a terrarium. We’ll break it down by the two common plant types used in terrariums – cacti and tropicals.

How to Care For a Terrarium with Cacti

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. The cacti that most folks are familiar with come from the desert. For a terrarium with cacti, you can follow identical instructions for your succulent terrarium, detailed above, with a few adjustments:

  • Cacti tend to be even more susceptible to rot than succulents. Take extra care not to over-water.
  • Cacti need very bright light to thrive. They should be fine to receive direct light.
  • As always, there are exceptions to the above rules. “Jungle cacti” like Rhipsalis, Hatiora, and Epiphyllum, will not like bright light and prefer more water than most cacti. For best results, plant jungle cacti in their own enclosure, or with other lower-light tolerant succulents.

How to Care For a Terrarium with Tropicals

Tropical terrariums are a whole different ball-game. We recommend choosing easy-going, moisture-loving species like philodendron, fittonia and ferns. Tropicals are going to eventually outgrow their terrarium enclosure, so keep in mind that you’ll eventually need to transplant.

Here’s how to care for a tropical terrarium:

  • Light: Most tropicals like medium-bright indirect light. They will burn if they get too much direct sun, especially when the sun is intensified through a glass vessel.
  • Water: Though not as drought-tolerant as succulents and cacti, care still needs to be taken not to over-water your tropical terrarium. Allow the top inch or so of the soil to go dry between waterings, and water at the base of each plant using your watering can or spray bottle. Between waterings, feel free to give your terrarium a spritz from a mister to promote a humid environment. Let the leaves tell you when it’s time to water by allowing them to wilt slightly between waterings.
  • Troubleshooting: Wilted or crispy brown leaves? Time to water. Mushy stems or lots of yellow? You’re watering too much. Remove damaged or overgrown plants and replace them with comparable specimens. Reduce watering during winter.

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