Plant an Effortless Understory for Your Miniature Garden Bed

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

The White Diamond Sedum is named after the way it captures water in its rosettes – the droplets look like diamonds. It’s deciduous in that it dies back a bit in the winter months. A truly charming sedum. 

Create an Effortless Understory for Your Miniature Garden or Fairy Garden Bed

I just love that word, “understory.” It sounds so mysterious to me like it should be some sort of literary reference to a subplot in storytelling. Understory. Whoa. Lol! Google’s definition is “a layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest” and, for us miniature gardeners, it’s what makes a miniature garden come alive and look realistic, like a true garden in miniature.

When you start to think about your miniature garden bed, it follows the same rules in full-size gardening. Start with an anchor plant, this is usually a tree or three, and fill in the understory with layers of shrubs and plants to form a wall of texture, color and green loveliness. Look to the full-sized garden designers for inspiration and ideas to add to your own garden. (Um. Wait. By “full-sized garden designers” I’m talking about the scale of their work, not the size of the gardener. Lol!)

Here are some of our favorite summer “miniature garden bedding plants” or ground covers or understory plants, whatever you want to call them. Click the photos to enlarge them.

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

Dwarf Hens and Chicks off a completely different texture to the understory in the miniature garden bed. We find the smallest ones we can for our Miniature Garden Center. Very hardy and very drought tolerant.

Find the Dwarf Hens and Chicks here.
(Sempervirens tectorum)

Find the White Diamond Sedum here.
(Sedum pachyclados ‘White Diamond’)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

One of our all-time favorite miniature garden bedding plants because of it’s grassy texture, and it’s resilience. I’ve see a thriving full bed of this Dwarf Mondo Grass in full sun – and it can do well in part shade too. Inconspicuous lavender-colored flowers in the summer.

Find the Dwarf Mondo Grass here.
(Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’)

That fern-like plant is Platt’s Black Brass Buttons, find it here.
(Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

This Miniature Ice Plant is a slower, more congested from of the regular Ice Plant that can be invasive. Bright yellow flowers pop up for a couple of days through out the summer when it’s established and happy. A full-sun succulent and drought tolerant.

Find the Miniature Ice Plant here.
(Delosperma congesta)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

“The hills are alive….” Our Irish Moss grew into a hill in our in ground miniature garden. Irish Moss is not a moss, it’s a perennial. Regular water, don’t let this one dry out, it will go brown and not recover. You can’t beat that lawn-look in miniature though. That’s a rare miniature dogwood behind it.  

Find the Irish Moss here.
(Sagina sublata)

So you can see with these few miniature garden bedding plants, just how much you can mix up the textures in your miniature understory. Like full-sized garden design, be deliberate and mix up the size of the foliage and the colors. If you choose all fine-leafed foliage it tends to blend together and look messy. By adding the grassy Dwarf Mondo Grass or the rigid leaves of the Miniature Ice Plant for example, it defines the different plants in the garden bed – meaning you can see what each separate plant is and they don’t all run together.

Here’s more about learning from the “big” garden experts here.

See all our miniature and dwarf trees, shrubs and understory plants up in America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, We have them sorted by light here – and they are sorted by your USDA zone here. Right plant, right place applies in miniature too AND you can plant a miniature garden in a container any time of year!

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