I am building a terrarium for some ex-Oregon family members. I really want to capture Oregon with its moss, ferns, trees and of course pine trees.

I don't know of really any small pine trees that would work in a terrarium. Does any one know of any varieties out there and/or maybe have some alternatives to use?

I'm interested in some small deciduous trees as well. Any thoughts out there?

I"m taking inspiration from a few photos I've found.

The rocks and moss here

The woodlandscape here as well

2 Answers 2


Firstly, you will need a large terrarium for even dwarf trees, and secondly, even dwarf trees will outgrow a large terrarium given enough time. If your family members are bonsai experts, this shouldn't be an issue. Also note that most trees native to Oregon are accustomed to a colder period during winter, often dropping below freezing. Without this treatment the trees will not develop properly, and may not survive.

You may be able to use small ficus trees as deciduous, and Norfolk Island Pines for evergreen, but the look wouldn't be the same as your inspirational photos. Both of those trees will benefit from the humidity and heat in a terrarium. But then, they also will outgrow it given time.

The easiest thing will be the moss. Moss doesn't have a root system, so transplanting is easy, if you keep it shady and moist. Growing moss on the trees trunks will be difficult unless the trees already have corky bark.

  • 2
    I had a feeling the trees in any variety would have that problem of out growing the container. Maybe there were some things out there that can impersonate a tree so to speak (outside of something fake)? However, i'm taking the photos as inspiration and not for face value. also to be noted, the variety(ies) does not have to be originally from Oregon. Just the look and feel is what I am after. moss, rocks, lichen, ferns... got that all covered.
    – au_stan
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 15:24
  • @austin A common trick for aquascapes is to take a piece of wood, and grow moss in the branches to make it look like it has leaves. I have no idea how that would appear outside of water though.
    – The Flash
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:45

You can use the very varieties you enjoy, or varieties that look similar if you establish bonsai trees. I have seen brilliant stands of miniature pines done before.

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