ISSUE 4  |  Garden Envy

10 Easy Pieces: Wardian Cases

January 27, 2015 2:30 PM

BY Janet Hall

A precursor to the terrarium, Wardian cases were invented in the mid-1800s to transport rare plant specimens. And they had staying power–they’re just as useful for protecting your prized plants today. Here’s a roundup of 10 of our favorites.

Wondering what to put in a Wardian case? See Gardening 101: How to Plant a Closed Terrarium.

Above: With a design inspired by museum display cases, a Specimen Case Terrarium pays homage to the Victorian plant hunters who brought home exotic and fragile flowers; $128 from Terrain.

Above: A rectangular glass and wood Specimen Display Case comes in three sizes, at prices ranging from $129 to $159 at Restoration Hardware.


Above: A Glass Specimen Display Case measures 9-by-9 inches square by 12.5 inches high; it’s $105 from Industry Home.

Above: Measuring 9.25 inches square and 12.75 inches high, an English Greenhouse Terrarium is $49.99 from Ohio-based Hirts Garden via eBay. 



Above: A modern re-interpretation of the Wardian case, a Ikea Socker Greenhouse measures 17.75 inches wide and 8.75 inches deep; $19.99.

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Above: A Steel/Glass Indoor Greenhouse with glass panes and an adjustable ventilation lid; it’s approximately 10.5 inches long by 6.5 inches wide and is 19.5€ from Manufactum. Use it to house small orchids; for more equipment, see 5 Favorites: Essential Equipment for Orchids.

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Above: Modeled on the 1800s variety, the Wardian Case from Paxton Gate measures 9 inches wide and 5 inches deep and is $115.

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Above: A classic conservatory style in miniature, the H. Potter Wardian Case Terrarium measures 5.5 inches wide and 9 inches deep; $79 through Amazon.

Above: A Clarus Brass Display Box, available in three sizes at prices from $59.95 to $99.97 at Crate & Barrel, are suitable for displaying air plants (crack the lid for them once in a while).

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Above: A pared-down version (minus the Victorian-inspired details), the H. Potter Rectangular Terrarium has a hinged door in the roof that allows for easy access to your plants; $69 through Amazon.

For more terrariums and tips for planting them, see:

N.B.: This is an update of a post published October 24, 2012.