African Violets in Terrariums and Vivariums

Question:  I’m considering getting some miniature African violets for my vivarium (terrarium with living creatures).  Humidity is around 75% and temperature in the mid 70’s, with moderately bright artificial light.  Would this be suitable?

Question:  In general, do all of your plants like humidity?  I do a lot of terrariums, some with more moisture than others.

Answers:  The answer depends upon the plant.  Though many appreciate the additional humidity, most do not require high humidity.  We grow very few plants under cover, with a few exceptions.  Even for plants reputed to need high humidity, like episcias, we grow without any such accommodation.  Only those growers in extremely dry climates, where the ambient humidity is quite low, might have to take extra precautions.  That said, the general rule remains: if you’re comfortable, your plants are likely to be as well.

As for growing African violets, or most gesneriads, in a terrarium, or vivarium, there’s no reason this can’t be successfully done.  All will tolerate, even appreciate, the additional humidity and, given sufficient light, they should bloom just as well.  Do keep in mind that the moist environment does mean thad dead, or dying, material will deday faster and is more likely to be the cause of problems.  Unless you really intend to let “nature take its course” and have the terrarium be self-sustaining (and maintenance free), it’s best to not completely seal the container, or otherwise allow some access to the plants and materials inside.  African violets and many other gesneriads, in particular, are blooming plants, which means spent blooms will need to be regularly removed as they appear.  Also, many gesneriads, including violets (like trailers) can be spreading plants, and can easily outgrow the limited space of a terrarium if not occassionally pruned (unless that is the appearance desired).

As for using African violets in a vivarium, with other living creatures, like frogs, for example, they should be perfectly suitable.  The plants, themselves, are not toxic, and pose no harm to anything else living in the container.  We sell many violets and other container-suitable gesneriads for use in vivariums.  We also have frogs that have taken up residence in our growing areas–they’ve found their way inside and decided they liked it here.

4 comments

  • Can African violets and orchids be in the same terrarium?

  • The mini african violet that I planted in its pot in my terrarium has not grown any new leaves…i was told to use soil w/o any fertilizer to prevent the tiny plants from growing large…but I expected the little plants to grow at least a few new leaves. It’s as though they are green and alive,but stagnant…do I need to individually add diluted fertilizer or fish emulsion when doing the rarely needed squirt of water? The terrarium gets plenty of light, sits by window,protected in am from direct sun.

    • All plants need food. True miniatures should stay small even when fed normally. If plants look otherwise healthy, but aren’t growing or blooming, this typically means they need more light. This can be tricky providing in a terrarium in natural light, since lots of light also means lots of heat.

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