Terrarium Care – Look After Your World-in-a-Box

Terrarium care may sound like an oxymoron, because they’re said to thrive on neglect. Although this is true, it helps to know what you should and shouldn’t do to make sure it’s always looking its best. And this also means knowing how to clean it.

As ever with plant care, you need to consider:

  • Water
  • Light
  • Soil
  • Pruning

But with a terrarium you also need to:

  • Clean!
  • Air your terrarium


Even if your plants love full sun, don’t your terrarium full sun. Your plants may simply get too hot in the enclosed environment and they will perish. Rather use partial sun or softer light.


Terrariums need minimal water because they are (mostly) enclosed ecosystems and there is minimal water loss through evaporation. Depending on the conditions and plants, you may not need to water for up to four months!

Check your terrarium every couple of weeks. If the soil’s dry, add a bit of water. Water very sparingly — you would rather under-water than over-water, which will cause root rot.


Most terrariums are closed on the top. If yours is closed, open the lid around once a month to air it. You’ll probably do this anyway while caring for your plants.


You’ll need to trim or prune the plants in your terrarium. Because of the confined space, your plants will quickly fill the space if left unpruned.

Pick off any leaves that are showing signs of damage to keep your plants looking fresh.


Don’t fertilize your terrarium plants! You don’t want to promote growth because of the constrained space. The lack of fertilizer will hold back the growth of the plants. To provide the nutrients that your plants need, you can replace some of the soil with fresh potting soil every couple of months.


Terrariums are prone to developing a white line of lime-scale just above the soil line. To keep your terrarium looking like new, you’ll need to clean this every now and then.

How much lime-scale forms will depend on your water supply.

To clean lime-scale from your glass container, take a stick and wrap a piece of moist paper (either moisten with water or a little non-toxic cleaner) down around the inside of the container, cleaning away the lime-scale.