We owe a lot to the Wardian Case.
The humble horticultural icon that’s revolutionized the plant world and allowed us to grow exotic tropical species in dreary English flats (which I am very thankful for).
But does the Wardian Case still have a place in the modern world?
Spoiler alert, it totally does, but it’s had to evolve along the way. These days to get your hands on one, you can choose from classic antiques, stunning replicas, or exciting fresh takes on the design.
In this guide, I’ll show you where to find your ideal Wardian Case for Sale.
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A Contemporary Take on the Wardian Case Terrarium
With a Wardian Case, the standout feature is always the design.
After all, there’s no real functional difference between a Wardian Case and a typical closed terrarium. What makes them special is their unique aesthetic and construction choices.
(For those new to the concept of the Wardian Case, we deep-dive into it – along with the man of the hour, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward – in a previous article on the History of the Terrarium).
A Wardian Case is characterized by intricate glass paneling held together by bold frames in classic Victorian shapes.
They’re broad and voluminous on the inside, allowing plenty of space for taller plants and larger displays. Plus, the nature of the interlocking glass panels makes them very versatile in terms of shapes and designs.
That versatility is why there are so many great Wardian Cases on the market today!
These days, they’ve gone from antique to boutique, and you can even (sort of) find them in Ikea… More on that later.
So whether you’re looking to restore or upcycle a vintage terrarium, purchase a stunning modern replica, or really push the creative limits of the concept – here’s where to find the best Wardian Cases for sale online.
Where to Find a Wardian Case For Sale
The term “Wardian Case” can be thrown around quite loosely online, so we’re going to keep this search to those that really fit the brief.
Classic or modern, these recommendations capture the essence of the Wardian Case in their own unique way. And most importantly, they can all actually be used for a functional terrarium.
Here are the main platforms to find Wardian Cases for sale online, and my pick of the best brands you can find there.
Seriously, Etsy is an absolute goldmine for uniquely beautiful terrariums and Wardian Cases.
There’s everything from large custom pieces to small vintage antiques.
1 | LeadHead Glass
May I first direct your attention to the wonders of LeadHead Glass.
Handcrafted using traditional stained glass techniques from recycled window glass, these modern terrariums preserve what’s best about Wardian Cases and breathe new life into them.
From the classic shapes of the Esau Terrarium to the modern Temple, Gazebo, and Tower options – there really is something for everyone.
The fact that they’re sustainably sourced and constructed is just the icing on the cake.
2 | H Potter Terrariums
These Victorian glass planter boxes definitely bare the hallmarks of a Wardian Case.
The range mostly shares the same kind of dark grey base that pairs well with the thick black framing. Both are going to contrast wonderfully with your green tropical plants and flashes of colored foliage (maybe African Violets if you want to keep the 1900’s theme going).
I have seen reviews saying they’re smaller than the photos suggest though, so it’s worth noting their dimensions.
Want a standalone botanical furniture piece? This one even comes with a stand.
3 | Urban Born
Urban Born has a small but lovely range of affordable terrariums on offer.
The birdcage-style glass terrariums are particularly nice.
According to their website, it’s their mission to “bring the beautiful art of Moradabad’s artisans to the western world. Five percent of profits go to increasing artisans’ wages, funding children’s education, medical clinics in villages, and wedding expenses.”
What a wonderful brand story of giving back to Indian artisans and their families with every purchase. Love it!
To be honest, I don’t really recommend buying your Wardian Case from Amazon.
Though they do stock a good variety of small tabletop pieces that could be the perfect size for your desk, they’re a very mixed bag and you have to be wary of who you’re buying from.
Unfortunately, Amazon is full of resellers and faceless brands, so it’s always best to go with a name you recognise or a brand you can at least vet via other sources.
After all, a cheap terrarium that can’t hold water is essentially useless!
Be sure to check the reviews as many of the products I looked at had numerous people saying they can’t hold water (Pro tip: sort by “newest” so you actually see the negative ones).
👉 (If you’re curious) Shop Wardian Cases on Amazon.
Last but by no means least, is our favorite Swedish store.
People often regard the SOCKER greenhouse as a Wardian Case so I thought I’d clear some things up.
Seeing as it’s a DIY assembly, I wouldn’t trust those seams to hold water or a significant amount of material. So you’ll have to get creative with sealant in order to make it into a true terrarium.
But as far as providing a humid environment for potted plants, it checks the right boxes.
You could also argue that the Ikea cabinets are similar to Wardian Cases too (and there most certainly is a trend for converting them to terrariums #ikeagreenhousecabinet).
Now It’s Your Turn
That’s a wrap! These have been all of the best Wardian Cases for sale that on my radar.
Hopefully there will be more to come soon.
That said, if you’re after something big that’s not on this list, why not check out our Large Terrarium Guide?