Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants

An indoor miniature garden that looks like the outdoors.

With a little compromise, you can have a happy indoor miniature garden that looks like it is a slice of the outdoors. That’s a Variegated Boxwood tree, a favorite for indoor Miniature Gardening.

Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants

Welcome to our Miniature Garden 101 Series! Learn the basics of gardening with miniature gardening, what you learn here, can be applied to full-sized containers and plants too. If you missed the first of the series, it’s here: Miniature Gardening 101: The Dirt. Shop Two Green Thumbs

~> Are you an experienced gardener? Scan towards the end of the blog, you may find something in here that you can add to your arsenal.

“Why did my plant die?”

More often than not, plants die because the gardener put the it in the wrong place with the wrong temperature, light or watering schedule. This is not unusual. Every gardener, when they are learning how to grow plants, challenge Mother Nature either knowingly or unknowingly. Here is a blog I wrote last year, on the signals that plants will give you if they are not happy.

And yes, I kill plants too – and I’m supposed to have “Two Green Thumbs.” Last weekend, I got fed up with my not-so-beautiful-anymore Victoria Nest Fern (a full-sized houseplant) and threw it in the compost bin. The plant needed more light than I could give it, and it did not like the drafts in the front room which was my brightest room. Or maybe I didn’t keep it evenly moist enough. Or both… Either way, I was sad to lose it but, life is too short to worry about what doesn’t work for me. I’ll find other plants that will do well in those conditions.

“Why can’t I grow this plant inside for the winter?”

Monteray Cypress as an Dr. Suess style Christmas Tree

Monteray Cypress as a Dr. Suess style Christmas Tree

Plants are like people. Every person has certain needs in order to thrive, and plants work the same way.

Let us use me as an example. ;o) I moved from Toronto because it was too cold for too long in the winter. So, I left to travel. Finally, after an extended stay in Costa Rica and Mexico, this redhead realized, it was too hot. Feeling like Goldilocks, I landed in the great Northwest which was perfect. I definitely needed a cooler climate like Seattle in order to thrive.

Plants are the same way.

Indoor plants are tropical plants and like to be warm (above 60°F) all year ‘round. If you live in a warm, southern climate, the indoor and outdoor plants choices will overlap. If you live in an area that gets cold or freezing in the winter, you can bring indoor plants outside in the summertime, and return the plant indoors for the winter, only because you are maintaining the climate that the indoor plant requires.

Jean's Dilly, a miniature Christmas tree.

Jean’s Dilly, a miniature Christmas tree, is tempting to bring indoors for longer than it likes. If you stage it, you can enjoy it for up to 5 days at a time indoors.

Outdoor plants, like the Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Alberta Spruce for example, need the roots to stay cool and damp all year ‘round, and they go dormant in the winter months. If you bring this kind of outdoor plant inside your home for the winter, you will not be able to keep the roots cool, the heat inside your home will dry out the foliage, and with the ambient inside temperature, the poor wee Spruce will not get a chance to go dormant and rest. You will end up with an unhappy plant that will attract pests and disease.

Now, for your miniature indoor garden, there are indoor plants that look like outdoor plants so we can have that “outdoorsy” look inside for the winter. Certain conifers, like the Elwood’s or Monteray Cypress, look like trees that we grow in our full-sized landscape. Baby Boxwood trees, the Variegated English Boxwood, or the slower-growing Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood, can stand in for the large broad leaf tree and shrub found in our full-sized gardens. (See what plants are available now, in our online store. Use the search bar to search by your zone.)

With a little compromise, you can have a happy miniature garden that looks like it is a slice of the outdoors. See more of our indoor plants choices here.

Follow along to Miniature Gardening 103: The Water.

In case you missed it: Miniature Gardening 101: The Dirt on the Soil is here.

You can bring your outdoor miniature garden in for a centerpiece over the holidays for 3 to 5 days at a time, here’s how.

Join our mailing list for more miniature garden goodness here.

Like this? Subscribe to this blog over there on the right! ~~>

Please help spread the joy of miniature gardening using the convenient buttons below.




  1. […] Stay Tuned for what’s up next: Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor […]


  2. […] get you started in this wonderful hobby! If you missed it, Miniature Gardening 101 was about soil, Miniature Gardening 102 is all about indoor vs. outdoor plants. Today we are discussing how to know how much water your […]


  3. […] Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants […]


  4. […] Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants […]


  5. […] – Indoor versus outdoor plants […]


  6. Pam Auwaerter said

    I ordered the lemon tree for indoors. It was listed as indoor/outdoor. Ok, right? Also, again with the mini ficus tree. It turned brown and lost its leaves again and again rallied. It sits in a bay window with full to part sun. I water it about once a week. What am I doing wrong? I know you said they were very touchy, but I dont move it, except to rotate the box.


    • Hi Pam, Sorry to miss this. Please email me for faster answers. Please refer to my email from the 31st where I mention that might be getting too much sun or too much water. Rotating the box is moving it – some Ficus are really, really picky. – J.


  7. migdalia tomalinas said

    Hi Janit, I researched fairy gardens for a master gardener power point presentation. I came across your web site and found lots of info to share with the Charlotte county master gardener volunteers and our public. I am the first person to introduce this topic and hope to spread the word about this wonderful hobby. I was able to show my bird bath fairy garden which I made 2 yrs ago. I also made a surfing Santa mini garden theme in a large container. In New Jersey my daughter got inspired and made a fairy garden with her six yr. old twins under a tree. She plans on doing a Halloween and a Christmas theme on the back side of the tree. got many pictures from the internet.
    I will continue reading your newsletters for inspiration and continue to learn how to create more beautiful mini gardens from your books.
    Please help I need substitute plants to use in zone 9-10. South west Florida is very hot and rainy this time of year. I want to add a list of plants and pictures for our Fall symposium October 28.
    Dolly Tomalinas MG


RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Thoughts and Opinions:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: