Begonias really are the most intriguing plants. No other genus comes close to the range of unique leaf shapes, growth patterns, and crazy colors.
These unique qualities open up a whole world of exciting creative opportunities, and what better way to experiment and express your flair than with a Begonia terrarium?
In this post, I’ll take you through suitability & what to watch out for, Begonia terrarium plant picks, and finally, I’ll bring you along on an over-the-shoulder build.
So let’s get on with it and make our terrarium dreams come true.
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Growing Begonias in Terrariums
First things first, begonias and terrariums… Does it even work?
Of course it does!
Originating from the South American tropics, this plant genus loves warmth and humidity, so it should come as no surprise that, for the most part, they thrive in a closed terrarium, and they look fantastic.
And the trick to growing happy, healthy begonias is consistency, so what better way to provide that than to encapsulate them within a controlled environment?
There are a couple of points to mention on suitability though:
- Begonias like moisture but can’t under any circumstances be sat in wet soil; having a drainage layer and high-quality substrate is even more critical in a project like this.
- They can get big, so you’ll either need a large terrarium container, a willingness to maintain regularly, or some smaller species – which satisfyingly leads me on to my next point.
Best Begonias for Terrariums (& Where to Find Terrarium Begonias for Sale)
With over two thousand stunning species in the Begoniaceae family, it can be challenging to know where to start.
While you can use whatever plant you like, I’ve curated a list of favorites to help start your search, and I’ve also included Etsy links to make your life a little easier.
- Begonia ‘Little Darling’ – A petite, intriguing Begonia with maroon-colored jagged leaves and delightful emerald green spots.
- Begonia foliosa – You’re bound to fall in love with this dainty vining Begonia. Flaunting forest green leaves and perfectly pink stems – what’s not to love? Read more in our plant profile here.
- Begonia rajah – An ornamental slow-grower with textured leaves somewhere between burgundy and salmon pink and wild Shrek-green venation. One of the more Frog-looking plants on this list for sure, but very deserving of its regal name nonetheless.
- Begonia bipinnatifida – The wild card of the group. The foliage looks almost skeletal, with very little “leaf” surrounding the veins. It’s definitely one to check out; read more in our plant profile here.
- Begonia manaus – With stunning round red or khaki leaves, bright lime detail, and a gorgeous gradient between the two parts, it’s a welcome addition to any terrarium.
- Begonia ‘Tiny Gem’ – The clue is in the name. This tiny gem with low-growing creeping stems is a perfect way to add some vibrant foliage to a petite terrarium build.
- Begonia crispula – A lovely little plant that somewhat reminds me of the Chinese Money Plant. It’s adorned with beautiful lily-pad leaves at the end of bright pink stems.
- Saxifraga sarmentosa (Strawberry Begonia) – While it isn’t a true Begonia, I’m letting it off because it’s great. It gives Begonia foliage energy with Spider Plant propagative tactics – watch in amazement as it sprouts out babies that root up and produce new plants.
And much more broadly, Amphioxus Begonias, Angel Wing Begonias (such as Begonia Maculata), and Rex Begonias are all an excellent fit for terrarium conditions but tend to need more trimming as they grow.
Now, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on with the build.
How to Make a Begonia Closed Terrarium
Lay the Foundation
I began my build by pouring some aquarium gravel on the bottom of my container to create a drainage layer.
You can use any similar material – leca is my particular favorite.
Next, I added the substrate on top.
Begonias are particularly unforgiving when it comes to substrate. They really don’t like to dry out yet can’t tolerate being sat in a soggy environment. So you’ll need a substrate that retains moisture, drains well, and provides root aeration.
You just need enough to comfortably house your plants’ roots, and you’re set.
Plant your Begonias and Friends
It’s time for the star of the show.
Because this terrarium build is so dainty, I’ve decided to go for a 360° planting style so that the piece will look great from all angles.
So, the Begonia is going straight in the middle.
Once my begonia was secured, I dotted some little plants and cuttings around to contrast the begonia and add more vibrant colors and textures.
My choices were:
- Two tiny fluffy divided Asparagus Ferns
- A few zingy lime-colored Lemon Button Fern fronds
- Lots of deep turquoise Selaginella uncinata for ground cover
Begonia Terrarium Care
When you’re happy with your piece, give it a few sprays of water and pop the lid on.
When it comes to watering terrariums, it’s always easier to start small and add more later if your plants need it. The drainage layer will provide some protection for your plants’ roots, but there’s only so much excess water that it can take.
Thankfully, terrarium lighting is a little easier to get right.
The gold standard for both begonias and terrariums is bright, indirect light. So in that sense, they’re a match made in heaven.
Keep your Begonia terrarium in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight. If you haven’t got an appropriate place, you can always use a grow light.
Now, all there is to do is adore your brand-new terrarium.
That’s it for today. What’s your Begonia terrarium pick? Have you gone for a petite species or a quick grower?
Let me know in the comments, and tag us in your creation on Instagram!
Finally, for more plant inspiration – check out our Complete Guide to Terrarium Plants.