10 Terrarium Designs to Try

Fairy gardens, geometric designs and clean lines are among the ways to bring new looks to these "it" accessories.

By: Lori Johnston and Marena Galluccio

Photo By: Nightshade

Photo By: House of Nomad

Photo By: Lindsay Eltinge Photography

Photo By: Blumen Gardens

Photo By: Blumen Gardens

Photo By: Allie Mullin Photography

Photo By: Lindsay Eltinge Photography

Photo By: Blumen Gardens

Photo By: Blumen Gardens

Photo By: Marena Galluccio

Geometric and Gorgeous

The popularity of terrariums stems from their versatility. They have the ability to be curated into any type of design style and purpose, whether as an accent piece or a focal point, says Alexander McLachlin, owner of Nightshade, based in Ontario. He sees terrariums moving toward more thoughtful, artistic design, and he's even seen some with a single pad of moss or a sapling growing from a lichen-covered stick. The shape of the container can be as much a point of focus as the environment inside, he says, "geometry is also such a powerful visual statement".

All-Purpose Accessory

"We love to incorporate plants in our projects, and a terrarium is the perfect way to house smaller plants so they don't look lost or they can add uniqueness to a larger plant like an orchid," says Berkeley Minkhorst, a designer with House of Nomad, based in Charlotte, N.C. She says her firm also loves to use geometric shapes in their room designs, so a multisided terrarium helps reinforce those shapes.

Springy Showcase

Both the vessel and the plants are sculptural items when it comes to terrariums. Mini double spike orchids are spotlighted underneath a dome terrarium, along with moss and tropical plants.

Holiday Theme

This Halloween terrarium isn't a scary sight, thanks to asparagus fern, friendship plant (Pilea involucrata), dried eucalyptus and dried caspia. Choosing a holiday theme is a key way to incorporate a fairy garden into a terrarium, recommends Blumen Gardens, a nursery and garden center in Illinois. Then choose plants that go together with your chosen scale and theme.

Fairy Garden Terrarium

A fairy garden terrarium includes Lemon Button Fern, polka dot plant (hypoestes phyllostachya) and preserved moss. Blumen Gardens recommends that you choose smaller plants to keep the scale consistent and add accessories from nature to give it a true fairy garden feeling.

Wavy Wonder

For a wow factor, create waves in the layering of terrarium ingredients, such as sand, pebbles/stones, charcoal and soil, says Megan George, co-owner of The Zen Succulent, which has a storefront in Durham, N.C., and author of "Modern Terrarium Studio." She says using a simple cylindrical vase also elevates your terrarium from the start. Another trend is mixing different low-maintenance plants with the same watering and lighting requirement. "Go ahead and stick a few cacti with your succulents or zen mosses with ferns," she says. "The plants will grow perfectly together and add unique contrast in textures, creating a polished look."

Tropical Terrarium

A closed-lid terrarium is a lovely vessel for tropical plants, such as peperomia, fern and selaginella, air plants and mood moss. The design of the glass bubble terrarium by Le Jardin Francais in Atlanta also has room for a flowering plant, which makes it one of its most popular looks.

Nature's Best

Rex begonia shoots out of a wide bowl terrarium with bird’s nest fern and Pilea nummulariifolia. When creating a terrarium, also look around for small objects and natural accessories, like rocks or twigs, Blumen Gardens recommends.

Terrarium, Terrarium on a Wall

Terrariums don't just need to be relegated to a tabletop. This modern wall hanging terrarium shows off assorted succulents and preserved moss in a fashion that looks like a layered cake.

Pantry Terrarium

A dual pantry/office located off the kitchen in the Southeastern Designer Showhouse in Atlanta became a special spot for a terrarium. "We took a sophisticated vase — one that might typically be used for flowers — and turned it into the terrarium to create an unexpected and fun moment, mixing elegant and casual," says Karen Ferguson of Harrison Design’s interior design studio.

Shop Related Products