Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant: A Complete Guide and Ideas


Instead of placing a glass pot in the house, why not grow the actual ecosystem cycles inside. Thus, you can see how every self sustaining terrarium plant works even without you having to intervene too intensely.

Growing and caring for any self sustaining terrarium plant means transferring natural processes into a jar you have prepared. 

You do not even need to take too much care to enjoy the beauty that living creatures show in the process. 

Then how to create a self-sustaining ecosystem in a bottle without letting them die? What are the benefits? Let us discuss all the information in this article.

What is Self-sustaining Terrarium 

Pin on terrarium

Naturally, ecosystems can happen without human intervention because each element in it performs its respective duties well. That concept underlies a self-sustaining terrarium.

A self-sustaining, or closed terrarium, is a natural ecosystem miniature that allows the living things inside to live and process like in the wild. Thus, you only need to provide minimal treatment to make the cycle run by it.

In this miniature concept, the self sustaining terrarium plants will be in a glass container which is then tightly closed. 

Apart from that, you also have to place other elements that support plants, or maybe even animals, to keep it alive.

It is not necessary to water the plants because they will live on a continuous process of condensation and evaporation. 

Therefore, it is an efficient technique instead of placing it in a pot and providing manual maintenance.

However, considering that farming and gardening have always required human participation, many are pessimistic that those self-sustaining plants will survive in glass containers. 

History of Terrarium

Based on the history of the discovery of the terrarium in 1942, at that time, a farmer tried to put several insects into a jar along with some fern spores, then left it closed.

Who would have thought, after a few days of being left behind, the insects would still be alive because the fern spores have grown into sprouts and provide food and air for the living thing. 

It indicates that a closed terrarium will not kill them.

Thus, the essence of the success of planting a self sustaining terrarium plant is to provide perfect artificial natural conditions, from water sources, fertile soil, and adequate lighting.

The latter will probably need human assistance.

The Benefit of Growing Self-sustaining Terrarium 

Pin on Learn and Create

Many people agree that placing a terrarium in the house will provide many benefits. But in fact, maintaining those with self-sustaining plants will be much better. 

Provide a living place for the self sustaining terrarium plant that can survive even though conditions in nature are not possible. 

This technique is related to artificial natural states that imitate the real habitat. Hence, you should try it due to these reasons:

  • Become a beautiful decoration, and you can place it in the room.
  • Minimal human intervention so you do not have to bother spending time and money on gardening.
  • Save money because you do not need to apply fertilizer and other treatments.
  • Under the right conditions, the self-sustaining terrarium will last for decades.
  • Help preserve natural ecosystems.
  • It can aim at scientific research purposes.

Those are some of the benefits of developing the self sustaining terrarium plant inside the closed jar. Apart from that, of course, you will get lots of advantages.

List of the Best Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant

Pin on Minimalist Decor

You can choose any plant you want for the miniature ecosystem. However, you should consider its function and effect on the terrarium. Here are some recommendations to think about.

1. Mosses (Bryophyta)

100 Best Moss wall ideas | moss wall, moss wall art, green wall

As a pioneer plant, the moss is the most recommended self sustaining terrarium plant. Besides, it offers easy maintenance and growth. Plus, this grower does not need too much water to grow.

The use of moss in terrarium is also very appropriate because this is a type of plant that does not require nutrients. 

These Bryophytas will be in the best condition while living in a moist environment. However, the plants will dry out if the conditions are not suitable.

2. Epipremum aureum

The very pretty Epipremnum aureum 'Snow Queen' or 'NJoy' or 'Frosty' or  'Pearls and Jade' or whatever your name is.. ???????????? | Plants, Hanging  plants, Pothos plant

This plant, also known as Pothos, can neutralize toxins and clean the air. It will be the best for the balance of the ecosystem in the self-sustaining terrarium.

Epipremnum aureum is also able to survive in low light conditions. Therefore, placing it in a dark area will not be a problem. Because of its beautiful appearance, many people use this plant as decoration.

3. Pilea peperomioides

Pannenkoeken plant | Pilea peperomioides #pannenkoekenplant # pileapeperomioides | Planten, Hangplant, Huisplanten

People also call this plant the Chinese Money Plant. In addition to its ability to regulate the flow of water and air, its beautiful appearance also makes it remarkable as a home decoration.

However, in unfavorable environmental conditions, it will begin to lose leaves. Also, to keep them healthy, you should prune the leaves if they are already too tall.

4. Tradescantia pallida

Pin on plants

It is a grower that has a unique appearance. Having long purplish leaves, this self sustaining terrarium plant can overcome air contamination.

Thus, the existence of Tradescantia pallida as a self sustaining terrarium plant will help keep the conditions in the glass jar comfortable and pollution-free. 

Self-sustaining Terrarium with Animals

After understanding the various theories about self sustaining terrarium plants and their intricacies, it is time for you to build the miniature yourself. These are the general and easy steps:

The Components of Self-sustaining Terrarium

Pin on NYBG Shop
Green terrarium

Not just placing a self sustaining terrarium plant in a jar, there are many considerations while creating a miniature ecosystem. Carefully think about what components will be in it.

Interestingly, combining your self sustaining terrarium plant with certain types of animals to make it more natural is possible. The following components should be in your glass miniature.

  1. The Self Sustaining Terrarium Plants
Jewel Orchid Macodes. petola Terrarium in Self Sustaining | Etsy

As previously stated, the self sustaining terrarium plants will determine what kind of survival the creatures in the closed jar will look.

In the discussion above, you already know the requirements for good growers for the glass jar. We also talk about recommendations for self sustaining terrarium plants to maintain the balance of the ecosystem in it. 

  1. A Container as a World Miniature
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Lego terrarium: lego

Jar selection is also a critical factor because it will be a place for the entire ecosystem. Defining the size and shape to suit the needs of the living creatures is very important.

Choose a simple shape so that there are no gases and liquids that settle at a certain point. In addition, size also has an essential task. Ensure that the container is quite big for air circulation and the various processes in it.

  1. Lighting System
Pin on Lighting

In the wild, living things face day and night, this also has a prominent role in maintaining the balance of natural processes. Therefore, you must also provide it for those self-sustaining plants and animals inside the terrarium.

For this one, they cannot be completely independent and need your help. You can adjust the on/off mode of the light. You should use artificial UV lighting for this purpose.

  1. Watering System

This component will determine the conditions in the terrarium. Instead of randomly placing living things, you also need to think about how the water flows. Create a channel that allows the liquid to flow.

Some terrariums also add rivers or lakes to imitate the real-world environments. Sometimes you have to control it because there can be problems that make fatal problems.

  1. Animal Inside
Pin on Lilly & Snakes

How to make a self-sustaining terrarium with animals? It is easy! As long as air and water circulation runs smoothly, then they can live well. It is consistent with the experiments by a farmer a long time ago.

The self-sustaining terrarium with bugs is a remarkable one. However, if you put an artificial river or lake in it, some fish will be a good idea.

Tools and materials

Here are the tools and materials:

  • The self sustaining terrarium plants
  • Some activated charcoal
  • Growing medium (e.g. soil and peat moss mixture)
  • Coarse planting media, such as gravel
  • Sheet moss to cover the floor
  • A spray bottle with water
  • Insects, bugs, or fish (optional)
  • Decoration (optional)
  • The container with a closed design

To make it easier, you can buy a self-sustaining terrarium kit that is already available at the farm shop. Meanwhile, if you want to place animals, choose the proper design of the glass jar.

The steps to make the closed terrarium

Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant
  • First of all, choose the self sustaining terrarium plants that match the theme and purpose. Make sure they can coexist in the container.
  • While preparing the container, ensure that it is clean and not contaminated with harmful chemicals.
  • The next step is to create the first terrarium layers. Use coarse rock, such as gravel, at the very bottom. Place it neatly.
  • Next, create the second layer using the activated charcoals.
  • In the third layer, you can add soil that with a peat moss mixture.
  • The next is placing the sheet moss over the growing media. Place it carefully and neatly. Now, you can start to put the plants.
  • For this part, you can do it creatively according to your taste and needs. Add decorations if desired.
  • If everything is ready, then you can start placing animals in it. Do it carefully that it doesn’t fall off.
  • A self sustaining terrarium with fish will be the best idea for the glass jar with an inside pool.
  • After all the parts have been in their place, close the container, and it’s all done.

Caring for Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant

Closed self-sustaining mini moss Terrarium With Moss already | Etsy | Mini  terrarium, Moss plant, Self sustaining terrarium

After the manufacturing process is complete, now you can enjoy the results. However, the self sustaining terrarium plants still need attention. Do not forget to supervise and maintain if needed.

  • Pay attention to the lighting system. You have to know when to turn the lights on and off. This process is critical as part of photosynthesis.
  • You still have to control the condition of the water. Make sure everything stays stable and healthy for the creatures inside.
  • Carry out renovations and repairs if needed.
  • Clean the terrarium when it gets dirty.
  • Prune the plant if necessary to maintain stable growth.
  • If there are animals inside, do not forget to make sure they are in good condition and have no potential to transmit disease.

If you have done the steps well, then it is very likely that your self sustaining terrarium plant and the animal will be fine. The ecosystem can last for years in favorable conditions.

Self Sustaining Terrarium Ideas

How to Make a Self-Sustaining Terrarium

In an ecosystem, the plant occupies a critical role as the beginning of the food chain. Therefore, whether you build a terrarium with animals or not, plant selection is something prominent.

Some points to consider

Even though you want the terrarium to live independently, that does not mean you can choose plants carelessly. The following are some considerations for your glass jar.

  1. Choose the slow grower
Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant

Choosing plants that do not grow too fast is a wise choice. Given that you mean this experiment as a closed terrarium, of course, you do not want to open it too often. 

If you use the fast grower, they will rapidly grow in no time. Hence, you have to intervene to tidy it up. In addition to being troublesome, this also disrupts the balance of the ecosystem.

  1. Pay attention to the size of the plant
Self Sustaining Terrarium Plant

Since this is a miniature with limited space, of course, you have to choose a plant of the appropriate size. In addition to destroying the aesthetic value, this also makes the condition of the ecosystem imperfect.

Plants should not touch the glass on either side or top. Because if this happens, the natural process will be disrupted, causing an imbalance in humidity, moisture, and other factors.

  1. Consider the way plants live
self-sustaining terrarium ecosystem

Even though you want to make it look natural, there is nothing wrong with choosing environmentally friendly plants. You cannot place parasites because they will disturb other growers in the same jar.

It does require long experience and observation. But make sure that some self sustaining terrarium plants and animals inside the jar can coexist without damaging each other.


Growing and caring for a self sustaining terrarium plant is both fun and challenging. Choose attractive designs and themes to showcase the ecosystem the way you want.

I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. Home decor, DIY related topics, & Travel are topics that I love to write!

Leave a Comment