If You Prefer an Array of Plants
Open terrariums feature a hole on top and are well suited for species such as succulents, which can’t tolerate the humidity of a closed terrarium.
What you’ll need: A contemporary-looking terrarium about 20 inches in diameter; pebbles or aquarium gravel; activated aquarium charcoal (to prevent odors); sterile potting mix formulated for succulents (check the package labels); a mister filled with distilled water; and three or more plants (here: echeverias, tillandsias, and a pretty bromeliad; jade plants and small aloes also work well in a low-moisture terrarium like this one).
How to set it up: Spread a half-inch to one-inch layer of pebbles or gravel on the bottom of the terrarium. Top that with a quarter inch of charcoal and two inches of potting mix, forming a slight mound in the center. Mist the soil so that it’s barely damp. Add the plants, making sure they are spaced a couple of inches apart. Cover.
Pick a vessel. Terradome by Ric Lopez (11¾ inches high by 19¼ inches in diameter), $85, Modern-past, 415-333-9007.
Put large plants in the center. To add contrast to a modern container, include a few ornate succulents, such as echeverias.
Establish a focal point. Opt for one showy tropical plant, like this stripe-leaved bromeliad.
Add texture. Dot spiky-looking plants around the perimeter. Tillandsias, also known as air plants, rest on top of the soil rather than being placed in it. They get nutrients and moisture from the air.