Simple Planting & Seperation
I don’t think there’s a plant more suited to life in a terrarium than a fern. They’re typically high-maintenance plants to take care of because they grow in moist, humid, and warm places.
That makes a closed terrarium the perfect environment for ferns, where the warmth and moisture are trapped, and the humidity is always high.
Ferns also grow on every surface, so in terrarium conditions where you have limited room, these little plants give you plenty of placement choices.
So in this article, I’m going to share what I think are the best ferns for a terrarium!
It’s then up to you to decide which ones you’ll use in your next terrarium build. Let’s get to it.
Most of the time, you’re going to be looking at small ferns for your terrarium. And very rarely will ferns come in the perfect size and be are ready to plant as soon as you buy them (exception of some micro ferns).
Especially if you’re building super small terrariums, the ferns you buy will need to be sized down in order to perfectly fit your build.
That is fortunately very simple to do, and all you have to do is gently split them apart making sure you don’t completely destroy the root system.
A single fern will be able to tease apart into 2 to 3 smaller plants each with its own set of roots and stems.
Anyways, onto the list! We can group terrarium ferns into two major groups based on their size:
- Mini Ferns
- Micro Ferns
Dwarf Ferns / Mini Ferns
Dwarf, or Miniature Ferns, are a smaller variety of popular houseplant ferns that are the perfect size for terrariums. They grow to about 12-15 inches tall, making them great for medium and large-sized terrariums.
Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘duffii’)
The Lemon Butter Fern is a small and super versatile fern that can be grown in any terrarium setting. The best thing about it is that it can be divided into tinier plants and placed in tight spots.
- Growth: 4-12 inches
Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
The Button Fern, also known as the Round-Leafed Fern is a fern known for its signature leaf shape and dark forest green color.
- Growth: 10-15 inches
Fluffy Ruffles Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
The Fluffy Ruffles Fern is a very popular terrarium plant because of its fluffiness and light green color, two because it’s small and can fit in most terrarium builds.
- Growth: 6-12 inches
Mini Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis)
The Mini Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a super popular pick that can be planted terrestrially and epiphytically, so it’s super easy to plant in any terrarium. It generally grows horizontally and spills its fuzzy rhizomes over the surface it’s planted in.
- Growth: 10-24 inches
Heart Fern (Hemionitis arifolia)
The Heart Fern is a popular terrarium fern because of its signature leaf shape. It’s astonishingly beautiful, and even though it can grow relatively large in a pot, the bulk of the plant is super small and very compact when put in a terrarium.
- Growth: 6-10 inches
Crispy Wave Fern (Asplenium nidus)
The Crispy Wave Fern is a tropical fern species, that in nature can be found growing on forked tree branches. It’s a big larger fern than most of the others on this list, but in a closed space it will not grow large as it otherwise would.
- Growth: 8-40 inches
Dwarf Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum microphyllum)
The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern is a super popular houseplant and is also very common in terrariums as it is very versatile and adaptable to the size of any container. It has a very unique and vibrant look, as it forms a dense cover of leaves over its planted area.
- Growth: 5-12 inches
Eyelash Fern (Actiniopteris australis)
The Eyelash Fern is another popular terrarium fern with a very distinct look. It has very delicate leaves that fan out kind of like eyelashes, thus the name.
- Growth: 5-15 inches
Micro Ferns are the tiniest of ferns out there. They are very delicate and often struggle to survive in nature. They’re ideal for super tiny terrariums and perfect for adding texture to ground cover. They typically don’t grow more than a few inches tall and are ideal for small builds and medium terrarium builds.
Mini Asian Water Fern (Bolbitis Broadleaf)
The Mini Asian Water Fern is a tiny, semi-aquatic plant that can also grow terrestrially. It’s a popular plant for many aquascapers, but it is also very prevalent in small terrarium builds. One thing that it needs more than any other Fern on this list is humidity, as much as possible.
- Growth: 2-4 inches
Dragon Scale Fern (Pyrrosia piloselloides)
The Dragon Scale Fern (Pyrrosia piloselloides) is a creeping fern with cute round and fleshy leaves. In nature, it will wrap around and completely cover trees giving them a “dragon skin” look with its leaves that look like dragon scales.
The Dragon Scale Fern is very adaptable to terrarium settings and should be applied around driftwood branches or on the background.
- Growth: 1-2 inches
A terrarium without a fern is almost unheard of these days. They’re exceptional, hardy plants, that love the terrarium environment and thrive in it.
They come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and shades of green. There’s a fern out there for every terrarium build, and I hope you found the perfect one for yours here!