Archive for Indoor Mini Gardens

Results Are In! The Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

The Best Container for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest 2012

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of Rochester, NY made this little gem with her boyfriend, Wyatt. We (the judges) thought it particularly charming with the stairs going down to the grotto-like pond. (Made with Mini Patio Mix.) The plants are perfectly in scale and the pretty color scheme match the pot too. The whole “look” is softened by the tumbled, smooth-edged stones. Glenna and Wyatt – you are hired!

Results Are In! The Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

What a terrific contest this year! Thank you all for your hard work and your creative ingenuity. We had 20 entries from the US, one from Canada and one from India. The level of miniature gardening made the judging particularly difficult this year. Steve and I had to bring in a couple of gardener friends for some objective opinions because we just could not decide!

If you missed it, here’s last year’s contest and the halloween contest.

And the winners are:

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of NY (top)
Best Halloween Miniature Garden: Karen of MA
People’s Choice Award: Mary Jane of NE
Honorable Mentions: Debbie of CA & Laney of MS

It was great to see some out-of-the-box entries. We may have to open up another category for next year for more fun. Laney’s bedpan garden got the most groans and one “Eeeew!” Laney did reassure me that the bedpan was scrubbed before planting. But note that when I followed up with her, the plants were suffering in the metal bedpan so it was taken apart to save the trees. The rusted metal pan was harmful to the plant’s roots so don’t try that at home. ;o)

Here are all the winners followed by all the entrants. After getting this altogether, I think this is my most favorite blog of all time! Check it out:

Best Halloween Miniature Garden: Karen of MA

The Best Halloween Miniature Garden for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest 2012

This Pumpkin Village, made by Karen in MA, won Best Halloween Miniature Garden this year. We deliberated a bit as to whether it was a garden because it was labelled a “Pumpkin Village” but – it’s in a container and has a garden in front of the village. Can’t beat logic! This is so creatively fun with the all the row of houses. Great job, Karen!

People’s Choice Award: Mary Jane of NE

The People's Choice Award of the Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

People’s Choice Award goes to our second-time winner, Mary Jane from Nebraska. Very Pretty!! We just fell in love with the blue and white combo – just charming! We were glad to see “The People” loved it too! Congrats, Mary Jane!

Honorable Mention: Debbie of CA

Honorable Mention, Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Honorable Mention for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012 by Debbie from CA. This was so pretty, we had to make two Honorable Mentions! Everything works together in scale and color – the colors of the plants as well as the color of the accessories and the pot. The pond and swan create a peaceful effect; the patio on the backside adds another dimension. Very sweet, Debbie!

Honorable Mention: Laney of MI

Honorable Mention, Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This darling little gem won Honorable Mention by Laney from MI. It was in line to win the Best Container before being ousted at the last minute by Glenna. There are koi fish in the pond which Laney layered in with clear resin and finished it up by floating lily flowers on the very top. We loved how Laney built in the patio all around the pond with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. The “wall” of cypresses and trellises in the back work to contain the scene. The sweet alcove made with the red arbor holds a bather sculpture. The shoes and hat on the chair creates the story.

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

We loved this one too! From Laney of MI. It was the meandering path that led over the bridge and through the woods… Perfect eye candy, Laney!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This one may have opened up another category for next year. A miniature garden with an outhouse planted in a bedpan by Laney from MI. Hilarious, Laney, yet – well done!

And all the talented Entries:

Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

We loved the colors in this entry by Barbara of CA. The red bridge and trellis tied in nicely with the ponds and Asian seat and pots. Great work, Barbara!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A backyard garden by Lori of WA spreads out to a few different “rooms” in the garden. Love the addition of the miniature glass garden art and the lanterns. Way to go, Lori!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A spooky little Halloween garden by Lori of WA. It kept us looking for more and more details, lol! Terrific, Lori!

Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A nicely aged miniature garden entry by Lori of WA. The Green Carpet Juniper is beginning to look like the perfect tree in this cute little scene. The scale is perfect. Nice garden, Lori! (Psssst, the fish needs some water…. Lol! ;o)

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A garden getaway from Sonya of MI. What a peaceful scene – love how the hose is left out – very realistic! Lol! Wonderful, Sonya!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A serene scene from Sonya of MI. If the brick wall wasn’t behind it, one may just think it was a full-sized garden! Lovely work, Sonja!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This lovely garden scene was created by Sonya of MI. We love how the fence completes the back of the garden and contains the scene. The furniture in the front and the pot details keep the interest. Very pretty, Sonya!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A fairy garden by Michelle of TX and yes, it’s in a hot-pink wheelbarrow. Love how the path meanders from the pond to the arbor to the house to the…. and it’s portable! It’s a sweet scene, Michelle!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This cute indoor garden comes from Mabelle of CA. We loved how the taller trees created a canopy over the pond. Checkout the miniature potted plants – cute! Delightful, Mabelle!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

All the way from Canada! This sweet vignette by Mary is just charming with the ivy growing up the lighted gazebo. I’m coming over for tea, Mary! ;o)

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Brought to you by ‘Dawn’not So’patient’ from Facebook. A very cute fairy garden. We suspect she’s not from Facebook, but from someplace down south by the plants she’s used. Very enjoyable, Dawn!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A charming miniature garden by Pat from MI. The colors of the accessories and basket tie it all together in a nice neat little scene. Adorable, Pat!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This very fun miniature garden comes from Jeeva from India. The greens and reds really work well together to create a rather exotic scene. Enchanting, Jeeva!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This pretty garden is from Hollie of KY. The tans, creams and whites contrast nicely with the greens of the plants and pot. A pretty scene, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Our only Christmas entry by Hollie of KY. The wreath and garland are handmade by Hollie. (There weren’t enough entries for this holiday category, unfortunately.) Very creative, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

And our only in-ground entry too – by Hollie from KY. See the witch’s legs underneath the ivy on the right?  (There weren’t enough entries for this in-ground category, unfortunately.) Too fun, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This miniature halloween scene comes from Deb from IN. Love the tiny gargoyles on the fence posts. Very scary, Deb!

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of NY, close up view

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

And lastly, another visit to our Best Miniature Garden in a Container Winner. Time to drink Alice’s elixir, shrink down…. and relax… Thank You, Everyone!

Wow, now you can see why it’s my favorite blog of all time! Thank you everyone for participating!

Show our winners some love and “Like” or share this with your friends, family and neighbors using the sharing buttons below.

Stay tuned to next week’s blog when we breakdown some of the gardens and go into detail on the plants and trees used here.

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More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Miniature Garden Plants

Mixing up the textures and the colors of the trees, shrubs and plants create an authentic garden scene in miniature.

More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Here are more of the many miniature garden images that we put aside for our upcoming book from Timber Press that got crunched in our computer, we couldn’t use these for print so here they are for you miniature gardening pleasure and inspiration. Notes about why we love these plants are in the caption below the image. See Part One from May, click here and we got a chance to highlight our Miniature Houseboat Garden in July, click here. 

We love junipers for the Miniature Garden!

A Miniature Beach Garden – the dwarf Junipers are excellent choices for hardy, full sun gardens.

Dwarf Junipers are just a pleasure to grow in the miniature garden. They come in many shapes and colors, they are really hardy, can take full sun and can tolerate a little dry soil too. Above, the upright column of green is a Miniature Juniper, the lower one on the right is the Mother Lode Juniper. The Mother Lode is technically a slow growing ground cover shrub but it makes a surprising reliable miniature garden plant that changes colors through the season. Trim any wayward branches when you see them.

Miniature Garden in half inch scale

Pair your dwarf Junipers with other plants that love full sun and well-drained soil for the best results.

The miniature bedding plants used there are mostly sedums. In the pots on the left, we used sedum cuttings and a baby Hen and Chick. On the right in the foreground is Elfin Thyme. All plants in this combo can be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. (The pots and bird feeder have been discontinued, unfortunately.)

Miniature Garden Plants

Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is a favorite for the miniature garden. Here it is paired with Red Thyme. (The chair has been discontinued.)

The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is one of the faster growing dwarf trees that we carry. Its the shape that really sells us – and it changes colors in the winter for added charm. Prune away the bottom branches to show some trunk to make it look like a tree. The marble and pebble patio is locked in with Mini Patio Mix, it’s a permanent fix to your miniature patio woes.

A Peaceful Miniature Garden Scene

A peaceful miniature garden scene. 

The Hinoki Cypress above is several years old and paired with bedding plants that enjoy regular water, and part sun (meaning a maximum 6 hours of direct sun.) There is a Fairy Vine (Muelenbeckia complex) growing up the trellis on the left, Platt’s Black Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) below it, and Dwarf Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) on the right. We used sedum cuttings for the wee pot.

Miniature Garden Vine and Trellis

A simple garden vignette can bring a little peace and tranquility indoors.

In this miniature garden, the miniature arbor becomes the focal point. Without the arbor, it would just be a plant in a pot. We matched the miniature pebbles with larger “boulders” to lend an air of permanence to this garden. This particular plant, the Fairy Vine, will last for a couple of years in this pot before needed more room or dividing. It will go through a dormant period in late winter and get a bit leggy, just cut it back and it should flush out in new growth in the spring. Fertilize in spring if it’s been in a pot for more than a year. Note that the Fairy Vine is a bit aggressive in some areas when planted in the ground.

Indoor Miniature Garden

Add a slice of the outdoors to you indoors this fall with an indoor miniature garden.

This Variegated English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Variagata) is a great little tree for indoors or out. The two tiny green shrubs in the front-most bed are the Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Compacta’) Boxwoods need plenty of light to grow indoors – with some direct light if possible. They are great for a bright shade spot outdoors too. Be careful to let the soil dry out to barely damp in between waterings to avoid overwatering. The pot is about 18″ in diameter. (The white bench and pots in this photo have since been discontinued.)

Miniature Garden Tree, Moonfrost Canada Hemlock

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a very reliable tree for the miniature garden.

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a wonderful little tree for the miniature garden. Prune up the bottom-most branches to show a bit of trunk to make it look like a tree. It can be grown in part shade to cool sun – in a pot or in the ground. The colors change throughout the seasons too: The celery green color in the summer turns to a mottled pink in the winter, the new growth in the spring is a creamy white. Trim the branches of the Moonfrost in late winter to keep the colors vibrant.

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Miniature Gardening 106: Contain Your Investment

A 9 year old Miniature Garden with a Tompa Miniature Norway Spruce.

Our oldest miniature garden created over 9 years ago. The tree is a Tompa Miniature Norway Spruce. The trunk is about 1″ thick now. I’ll limb it up when I transplant it – as soon as the wee tree starts to complain (when I see the needles starting to turn yellow.)

Miniature Gardening 106: Contain Your Investment

A miniature garden can grow to be your old friend. With the right combination of plants, accessories and care, it can weave together for years before needing any major repotting. The tree’s trunks and branches grow in and thicken, the bedding plants get established and look really natural, and the miniature patio ages and settles to look even more authentic than ever.

There ain’t nuthin’ like gardening in miniature. Satisfying. Rewarding. Creative. Garden-y. Fun.

Which is why I’m always surprised when I get an email asking about where to get cheap, er, um, I mean inexpensive containers for miniature gardening.

Miniature Garden with the Tompa Miniature Norway Spruce, 2007.

The same garden in 2007. You can find the aged mower up in our Etsy Store here:

This miniature garden here in the gray rectangular pot is one of my oldest yet. I’ll have to dig out the exact age, I’ve blogged about it before, (and here too!) but it’s an ol’ friend now at about 9 years old. And, I think that pot sold solo for probably $50 at most.

Mind you, we are in temperate Seattle where the average weather is bland, but this miniature garden has withstood two house moves, several long freezes and a handful or two of random snow storms. (I told you it was bland.) The plants used in this garden are the Tompa Norway Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Tompa’) and Chocolate Chip Ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’ and yes, it’s the same plant, snipped back year after year.)

And there my ol’ friend still sits, 9 years later.

Amortize the $50 over 9 years, account for all the enjoyment, education and play time – I would say $5.55 per year is a pretty good deal. And hey, I am still using the pot too.

” The bigger the pot,
the more plants you can play with,
the longer the miniature garden will stay together,
and the more fun and rewarding it is. “

Now, don’t scrimp on your miniature garden pot. Consider it an investment. You have to look at it for years so choose a nice one that you really like. We recommend minimum 8″ wide x 8″ deep for a one tree and one bedding plant. The bigger the pot, the more plants you can play with, the longer the garden will stay together, and the more fun and rewarding the miniature garden. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole or understand the plant’s needs with no drainage hole.

Now run, don’t walk, to your local independent garden center (I’ve always wanted to say that) and see what pots they recommend for your area. Get that pretty bowl for a table-top centerpiece AND that tall welcome pot for the front door, and get your miniature garden on.

Here’s the rest of the series:

 Miniature Gardening 101: The Dirt

Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants

Miniature Gardening 103: The Water

Miniature Gardening 104: How to Find the Plants

Miniature Gardening 105: Sizing up Your Miniature Accessories

Find your plants, parts and pieces for your miniature garden here in our store.

Miniature Garden with the Tompa Miniature Norway Spruce, 2007.

The same garden, again in 2007. That brick sheet patio was a surprise, I must admit. It has held up really well over the years and in the Seattle freezing too. It’s locked in with our Mini Patio Mix Kit.

Your Miniature Garden Center

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Miniature Gardening 104: How to Find the Plants

Miniature Garden from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show Container Display, in 2004.

Tripping through the photo archive: A Miniature Garden from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show Container Display, in 2004. Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Alberta Spruce in the middle, flanked by different Hinoki Cypress. That chartreuse grass is Miniature Sweet Flag. Alberta Spruces won’t grow well in hot/dry regions, they like their roots to stay cool.

Miniature Gardening 104: How to Find the Plants

We’re finally getting back into our groove after a busy spring here at our studios in Seattle. The book is almost to the publisher’s…. almost! Steve is holding down the stores so I can get this together for you, this has been a very popular question this season, I thought to tackle it right away. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Here are the previous posts in this series, just in case you missed them:

 Miniature Gardening 101: The Dirt (All about soil.)

Miniature Gardening 102: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants

Miniature Gardening 103: The Water

A Tiny Miniature Garden: The Way to Oz

Tripping through the photo archives: A tiny Miniature Garden: The Way to Oz. With small, Roly-Poly Hen and Chicks. This size of mini garden make the PERFECT little hostess or thank you gift!

Miniature Gardening 104: How to Find the Plants

Miniature gardening is such a juicy idea, it can’t help but attract new gardeners to try it out and, in doing so, you can begin to learn about gardening in general. But where do you start?

Right here!

For Indoor Miniature Gardens

1. Choose the place where your miniature garden will “live.”

2. What kind of light does that spot get?

Bright, indirect light behind a sheer curtain? A full sun window sill?

3. Choose plants to suit those conditions. The soil and the water regime will depend upon what plants you would like to grow. See examples.

Baby Boxwood in the Miniature Garden

A Baby Boxwood in an Indoor Miniature Garden. Golden Baby tears on the left and Dwarf Mondo Grass on the right.

Example #1 – Small-leafed succulents love sharply drained soil because their roots don’t like to be wet all the time. Sharply draining soil, is the soil with white bits of vermiculite “well-peppered” throughout the mix. The Succulent’s soil will need to dry out between watering to prevent over-watering.

Example #2 – A baby English Boxwood Tree can be grown in regular potting soil, with a regular watering schedule. Let the soil dry out until wrung-sponge-damp in between waterings to prevent overwatering. (Stick your finger 1” down into the soil to test it.) The soil should not dry out completely.

Miniature Garden In-ground

The dwarf Zmatlik Arborvitae is in the upper left corner, with small Hens and Chick at the base, clockwise to the right, Miniature Daisies, Elfin Thyme and Sedum lydium.

 For In-Ground Miniature Gardens

1. What kind of light does the spot get in spring and fall? Full sun? Part? Shade? In summer, the sun is highest and shines on all areas so it’s not an accurate time to call it.

2.  What kind of soil does that spot have? Is there soil? Soil is the rich, brown and full of composted bits of goodness that smells like the earth, dirt is grey and dead.

3. Is the soil moist or on the dry side?

4. What zone are you in? The USDA has figured this out for us, just plunk in your zip code to their interactive hardiness zone chart, and it will look it up for you. (All countries have their own hardiness zones, use Google Search to help you find yours.) Every plant has certain zones that they can be grown in. Banana Palm Trees can’t tolerate the winters in Wisconsin. Alberta Spruces won’t like the long, hot and dry summers in Texas.

5. Choose plants to suit those conditions.

Miniature Garden with a Mugo Pine for full sun.

Tripping through the photo archives: Miniature Garden with a Mugo Pine for full sun. The Mugos are great for containers or planted in the ground.

Example #1 – The dwarf Mugo Pines great for a full sun spot, like well-draining sole and prefer the soil just barely damp. Let the soil dry out to wrung-sponge-damp in between watering. (Stick your finger 1” down into the soil to test it.) The Mugos can tolerate dryness, but never for too long, nor too often.

Example #2 – Dwarf Canada Hemlocks of all varieties prefer a part shade spot with damp soil. Part shade includes the eastern side of the house and dappled shade too. Part shade helps the soil to remain damp as they do not like dry soil. (Some Hemlocks can take more sun in cooler climates but the soil really needs to stay consistently damp.)

An old Miniature Garden with the Moonfrost Canada Hemlock

Tripping through the photo archives: An old Miniature Garden with the Moonfrost Canada Hemlock. This garden is over five old, the moss took over for the ground covers a couple years ago, it still looked rustic, so I left it alone.

Now Go Get Plants!

Source #1 – Your local, independent garden center or nursery will carry plants that you can use. If they don’t know about miniature gardening, ask for slow-growing plants, small leafed perennials,  low growing, dwarf, miniature, baby or young plants. Note that the words, ‘dwarf’ and ‘miniature’ refer to the growth rate, not the plant.

Also not that the garden department at the “big-box stores” won’t have half as much of a plant selection that your local, independent garden center will have. Call the garden center first to check – either way, for the new gardener, it will be well worth the drive and the effort to get to know them and their store.

Source #2 – From your favorite online Miniature Garden Center. We have them divided up into three main categories, Indoor, Outdoor Sun/Part Sun and Outdoor Shade/Part Shade. All our plant listings have the growth rates, zone information and growing details. In each plant listings, there is a little summary on why we like to grow them in our miniature gardens. We’ve been seriously growing miniature garden plants for over 11 years now and we have found a nice selection of reliable plants that don’t take a lot of attention to grow – just water how they like to be watered and a little love every now and then!

Snail at the Miniature Garden watering hole.

Tripping through the photo archives: You can lead a snail to water… Random acts of cuteness may appear in your miniature garden at any time! Have your camera ready to catch it at any time.


How to maintain the plants in your miniature garden will depend upon the plants you have chosen. Read the plant’s care info and stick to what it says.

Indoor: Note that your situation changes throughout the year: the sun beams sideways into the windows will scorch the leaves and forced-air heaters will dry out the soil faster in winter.

Outdoor In-Ground: The trees, shrubs and perennials will get established after a year of regular watering and, after that, all you have to do is water occasionally in the dry months and pull a weed or two. Divide the perennials every couple of years. Any annuals will need regular water. Keep fertilizing to a minimum – you don’t want it to grow fast.

Links to the plant listings in our online store:

Variegated English Boxwood

Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce

Zmatlik Arborvitae

Miniature and Dwarf Mugo Pines
(Link goes to ‘Short Needle,’ look in same department for other Mugos that we have in stock.)

Miniature and Dwarf Canada Hemlocks
(Link goes to ‘Abbott’s Pygmy,’ look in same department for other Hemlocks that we have in stock.)

Miniature Daisies

Elfin Thyme

Miniature Gardening 105: Sizing Up Your Miniature Garden Accessories

See what other plants are up in our store here.

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Miniature Gardening Travels Around the World

Miniature Gardening in Cyprus

Miniature Gardens by Elena of Nikosia, Cyprus. A small island off the coast of Turkey, almost directly on the other side of the world from where I am, here in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Miniature Gardening Travels Around the World

Copy & Paste this into Google Translate for your language.
Copia y pega esto en Google Translate para leerlo en su idioma.
Copiez et collez-le dans Google Translate pour le lire dans votre langue.
Copie e cole isso em Google Translate para lê-lo em seu idioma.
Salin dan sisipkan ke Google Translate untuk membacanya dalam bahasa Anda.
Copia e incolla questo in Google Translate per leggerlo nella tua lingua.
نسخ ولصق هذا في ترجمة جوجل لقراءته في لغتك.
Скопируйте и вставьте в Google Переводчик читать на своем языке.
Sao chép và dán vào Google Translate để đọc nó trong ngôn ngữ của bạn.
Αντιγράψτε και επικολλήστε αυτό στο Google Μετάφραση να το διαβάσετε στη γλώσσα σας.
Kendi dilinizde okumak Çevir kopyalayın ve Google yapıştırabilirsiniz.
कॉपी और इस पेस्ट गूगल में यह अपनी भाषा में पढ़ने के लिए अनुवाद.
Kopieren und fügen Sie diese in Google Translate, um es in Ihrer Sprache zu lesen.
Kopiera och klistra in detta i Google Translate för att läsa det på ditt språk.
(Sorry if I missed yours!)

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. A big Jade plants makes a perfect miniature garden tree. That spiky plant in the back is a Haworthia and I think the smaller, flowering shrubs in front are small Jade plants. These plants will work for indoors too.


It was just a year ago when I wrote the blog, Miniature Gardening Crosses Borders. It was a post dedicated to my fellow

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden detail of the garden above. Elena emailed me to thank me for my ideas and these wonderful pictures were attached...

Canadians to the north, and how they could access the plants and trees needed for this wonderful miniature garden hobby. But, as the hobby continues to spread world-wide, more information is needed for everyone else that is not on this continent. And, from our statistics across our websites – that’s about 175 countries. Unbelievable if you consider that there are only 196 countries in the world!

When looking for plants for your miniature garden, remember that not everyone knows about this new miniature gardening hobby. So, if you walk into a plant store and ask for “miniature garden plants” or “fairy garden plants” you will get a strange look and a big fat “No.” I know I did. Here are types of plants that can work for miniature gardening that your local garden/plant store might be more familiar with:

Slow-growing plants with small leaves – The slower they grow, the longer your miniature garden can stay “small.” We don’t want the plants to grow up in one season, we want it to stay together and grow so we can enjoy it. You will have to re-pot it eventually though. The smaller leaves will help scale down the size of your miniature garden for the viewer.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. She used a smaller Jade plant with a Haworthia. The rock in the back really adds to the natural garden look to make it look like a full-sized garden that was shrunken down to miniature.

Ground cover plants – These are the plants that grow close to the ground and never grow directly up, but spread out and cover the ground. They come in many different leaf shapes and colors. The faster growing ground covers can be trimmed back. Again, look for the plants with small leaves.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. Using tinier furniture in the larger pots makes the miniature garden look huge. Again, I love her use of the rock behind the tree - and her patio shapes too.

Alpine perennial plants - Plants that live high in the mountains are usually smaller and stunted in growth because the environment is colder and unfriendly. The plant wants to stay alive to reproduce, so it will grow slowly each year to protect itself. Most plants will continue to grow slowly when you take them out of that harsh environment, and some may not.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. Obviously she is not afraid to experiment - and it's paid off for her. There's a distinctive style to these gardens that Elena can call her very own.

Rock plants or rockery plants – Plants that grow among rocks are similar to alpine plants because they are trying to grow in a harsh place. Rock plants can grow in little soil, and are sometimes stunted in growth because of that. Again, look for the rock plants with small leaves and small flowers.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. Her miniature garden patios are really quite pretty. Look how she broke it up into two sections to make a little raised area. Just lovely!

Bonsai starts – Some bonsai trees start from a young plant. The bonsai starts usually have small leaves and are slow growing too. Young bonsai plants shouldn’t cost too much if you find it before it is trained.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. Very simple made effective with the colors and the design of the patio. Notice that the circular design starts on the left side and is echoed across to the right. I think that's a Ficus tree. The ladder helps translate the scale too.

I hope that helps get you started on your miniature gardening and gives you more ideas to look for. Do let me know of any other questions you may have. I’m always glad to hear from a fellow Miniature Gardener wherever you live.

This blog was inspired by Elena of Nikosia, Cyprus, who sent the photos shown throughout this blog. I thought if Elena can find plants and trees to use on her wonderful island off the coast of Turkey, then we all can.

Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

Miniature Garden by Elena. Simple again, yet very effective. Just one blue cypress with the right mix of patio and accessories can create that miniature garden magic.

See more miniature gardens from around the world on our popular Facebook fanpage. Click into the photo album, the second album down, and you’ll find gardens from the USA, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, the UK and there is a miniature garden cake from Roberto of Italy.

And, in the galleries on our main website, you’ll find more from the UK and one from Africa, along with a bunch from from the United States.

And we can officially consider Miniature Gardening an international hobby! Who knew that something so small could be such a big idea?

Visit our store here. (International orders, please use Paypal. Note that we do not ship trees outside the lower 48 States.)

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Miniature Gardening in Nikosia, Cyprus

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Miniature Garden Plants: Secrets to Success

Our old miniature garden, back in 2007, dressed for Father's Day.

Our old miniature garden, back in 2007, dressed for Father’s Day. The Tompa Spruce was called a dwarf back then, now it’s  called a true miniature, with a growth rate of less than 1″ per year.

Miniature Garden Plants: Secrets to Success

I love it when a great idea comes together…

When I stumbled on to this idea at the end of the last century, (I’ve been dying to use that) I spent the first couple of years killing plants. I thought I could trick plants into doing what I wanted them to do. I thought that just because the plant had small leaves, it would make a good miniature garden plant. But, alas, no.

It was through endless trial and error that I found out what plants “work” best for the miniature garden. Way back then, when I began my quest, there were no books, no websites, no links, not a thing that I could turn to for guidance, to find out what plants to use. So, it was all about buying it and trying it – for years. And I still do it to this day.

Our old miniature garden, today, March 14, 2012. Same plants, same pot, same patio.

Our old miniature garden, today, March 14, 2012. Same plants, same pot, same patio. Just looking a little soggy in the Seattle rain…

You see, creating your miniature garden can be as simple as sending the kids out to the garden to look for small plants. You just know they will come back with the first plant they will find, including flowering weeds and baby plants.

Or, with a little research beforehand, you can create your miniature garden to include reliable and slow-growing miniature garden plants that are tried, tested and true.

The joy of miniature gardening is the blend of crafting and gardening. The crafting part is the creation of your idea and putting together your garden. The gardening part is choosing what plants suit your idea AND growing the plants together as a garden. So, you will want to use the golden rule, “right plant, right place” to find what plants work for the space where you want to grow the garden in. It’s the same rule that you use in the full-sized garden, just shrunk down to miniature. Makes sense, right?

So, here’s a quick list of what’s being suggested as good miniature garden plants on the internet that are not on the old Two Green Thumbs’ list of tried and true plants for well-behaved, miniature garden plants. It’s not that I don’t like these plants – but some would do better in a larger, in-ground miniature garden and some are better for big pots if you must use them, in my humble-but-size-obsessive-opinion. ;o)


  • Carpet Bugle/Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) – Some varieties are very invasive when planted in-ground in some regions. The Ajuga is more successful in miniature gardens in containers because you can control it, trim back new growth when you see it. (Pictured above, it has “bonsai’d” itself in this pot, but technically the leaves are too big for the tree.)
  • Cranesbill/Heronbill/Storksbill (Erodium x. variabile) – Some varieties seed like crazy! Kinda boring when not in bloom. Use for larger, in-ground miniature gardens rather than pots. When it spreads, it is pretty when it blooms.
  • Carnation Plant (Dianthus) – Kinda boring when not flowering, which is most of the year. I have a hard time trying to figure out when and how to divide this – and disturb the beautiful mound that it grows into. But if it’s not divided, the center of the mound will start to yellow as the weather warms up to summer.
  • French Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – Culinary Thyme looks just darling as a baby in a 4” pot, but it is the ground cover variety that we want – not the culinary type. It’s okay though, we all have tried it at least once. It works great in a fairy garden where scale isn’t a necessity.
  • Golden Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) – See above. But the ground cover varieties spread really quickly. The leaves are a bit too big too.
Two inch baby plants being sold as "miniature garden plants' don't work too well.

Two inch baby plants can easily look like “miniature garden plants because they are small and cute – for now. Just wait a month or two.


  • (Some) Begonias – A lot of the Begonias look great as baby plants, but look for the more compact, smaller-leafed varieties. Some Begonias grow to an adorable 6” – 8” high, like the Begonia Cleopatra or Begonia Maphil. Begonia partita is a particular favorite. (Pictured below.)
  • Coleus – I know, I know, it’s the COLOR! Lol! But the leaves are just too big and it grows way too fast. Admit it.
  • Creeping Charlie (Pilea nummulariifolia) – Leaf size is perfect, I wish it would grow a lot slower!
  • Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes) – I know it’s the color that we fall for but, keep reading…

Now before you go sending me emails because you found your favorite miniature garden plant on this list, know that we are scale/sized obsessed because that is our job here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center. But, if you do stop to think about it, would you plant a huge, fast-growing, big-leafed, pink, polka-dotted bush in your full-sized garden that you would pull out after three months because it got too big?

Or, would you choose the right plant for the right place and find something that will grow AND look good for at least a full year, or a lot longer, like a full-sized garden design?

What works? See the plants in our store to see what we have been using, with success, for years, right here.

An indoor Miniature Garden in the Miniature Garden Office

Begonia partita at right, with a Variegated English Boxwood and a Dwarf Mondo Grass. This is a reasonably well-behaved combination for indoors. The Begonia will be the first plant out grow this garden, unless we trim it into a bigger tree. The angel reminds me of my angel-loving Mom. Find the Boxwood and Mondo Grass up in the online store.

Join us here for more miniature gardening tips, info and just plain fun. The Mini Garden Gazette is a FREE monthly publication sent straight to your inbox. Sign up here and get a free PDF, The Best of the Mini Garden Gazette #1 delivered to your inbox after you confirm through your email. Join us here.

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Miniature Fairy Gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

This is becoming an annual tradition, it's our 9th year of doing a miniature garden display on the skybridge at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Seattle, Wa. Here's a tour of our display:

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

How sweet she is! I started with an Amy Brown Fairy and glued, painted, glued, drilled, painted and glued things on her to make her stand out in the display - since she was to be the only fairy in the scene. I stole the swing off of another piece, glued the driftwood and moss onto to it. We hung it with fishing line so it would appear suspended. The gem sits there and sparkles like a holiday.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Found and broken object were "melded" onto the pots and used as miniature garden accessories helped to create the fantasy. It was fun to create with such careless abandon. I recommend it.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

This Zmatlik Arborvitae is roughly 10 years old. A great forest-y looking tree for full sun that's great for in-ground or in a pot. It turns a brilliant amber color in the cold months.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Branches, air plants, and bits of miniature jetsam were tucked in the moss bed, then sprinkled with glitter that twinkled as you walked by it. This pot is 12" wide.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

A "concrete" pond sets the stage, the Jervis Canada Hemlock creates an aged look and the colorful beads add interest. That leafy plant around the pond I believe is a type of Soldanelle.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

The Cotoneaster came pre-trained for an easy bonsai look. We've had this one for about 4 years now. That's a 1/2" scale or medium sized bench. The pot is about 10" wide.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

A young Daphne has the look of a perfect shrub in miniature. I didn't have the heart to limb it up a bit to show some trunk, it was just beginning to bud. That's a tiny angel fairy on the pedestal.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

I was fun to create the pot and the miniature garden together for a more complete idea. By decorating the pots, it cinched the surreal, fantasy look. That is a Jean Iseli Hinoki Cypress that we've had for a few years, it's becoming a majestic tree in miniature.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

A young couple sought me out at our booth to say, "We are very impressed with your creativity, it was the best display and most creative at the show. We had to come over and tell you that. Thank you for sharing." It was the best compliment ever. Honestly. I should have taken their contact info... it's that kind of encouragement that keeps me going.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

We wanted the look of a forest floor. Our backdrop changed dramatically over the weeks leading up to the show. I'm happy with the simple colors, the attention went to the plants and pots where it should be. The colors weren't exactly idea for photography though..

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Tiny details were fun to tuck here and there throughout the display. Another person had to stop me and say, "Every time I walk by your garden, I see something different!"

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

A mini miniature garden. The patio stones are locked in with our Mini Patio Mix Kit, now available at a local garden center near you! The gazing ball is 1 5/8" tall. Look for the new 2012 colors up in the online store next week.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Most of our plants are true miniature and dwarf plants with the occasional exception. These baby Monteray Cypress are a little faster growing than we normally prefer, but the color, and the fact that they can be grown indoors, outweigh the growth rate. They smell great too ~ you may know them as Lemon Cypress.

eNWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

We nurtured these young Monteray Cypresses just for the show, watering them with Moo Poo Tea from Authentic Haven Brand Soil Conditioning Teas to get them looking their best.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

We customized just about every accessory that went into the display. With our passion trending these days, it's our way of staying ahead of the curve. You can find our One-of-a-Kind and customize miniature garden accessories in our Etsy store.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Fireflies in a jar adds a bit of magic...

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

Our fairy bed made by Georgetown Home and Garden is cute as a button and looks great in any setting. They'll be up in the store shortly

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

The fairy magic is in the details when it comes to miniature gardening.

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display

NWFGS 2012 - Miniature Fairy Garden Display was a great success. Again, we did something completely different than anyone else at the show and if we made people laugh, smile and dream, our job is complete.

Find the plants and accessories mentioned here, or to visit our online store, the world’s only store solely dedicated to the art and craft of miniature gardening go here.

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Miniature Garden Trees: A Visual Feast

White Pygmy Cypress

White Pygmy Cypress have charming cream colored tips. Shear it every winter to keep this happening. Without shearing, it'll turn to a drab celery green color.

Miniature Garden Trees: A Visual Feast

The spring order arrived early for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show! We have some exciting new additions to our Miniature and dwarf conifer line. Here’s a sneak peek ~ most of them are now up in the store now. The rest will be up mid-February. Email for more info if needed.

Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress

Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress in its winter blush. Underneath the amber foliage is a wonderful live green. It's really quite charming.

A brand new, true miniature Hinoki cypress – yet to be named, it’s called ‘E1 Evaluator’ for now. I wonder if I can call it ‘Janit’… ;o)
Miniature Garden Trees

Some of the Miniature and Dwarf Mugo Pines are hardy to -50F and can withstand the harshest of winters - and tolerate dry, full sun conditions in the summertime when they are established in the garden bed.

Miniature Garden Trees

The pink Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is flanked by the Snow Sprite Cedar. Perfect eye candy for the conifer lover.

Miniature Garden Trees

The new Chirimen Hinoki Cypress continues to be a favorite for the miniature garden with its whimsical shape. Note its winter blush. Amber tips that merge into the grey-green foliage further down on the trunk creating a stunning color combination - only from Ma Nature.

Miniature Garden Trees

Photo-Op - the colorful spires of the Chirimen Hinoki Cypress against the neutral colored soil and box makes an unusual sight.

Miniature Garden Trees

The new Jersey Jewel Japanese Holly has oval shaped leaves and appears more columnar in shape than it's sister, the Dwarf Pagoda. I'm looking forward to growing this one.

Miniature Garden Trees

Dwarf Spruces, Junipers, Cotoneasters and the Gold n' Rubies Spirea.

Your Miniature Garden Center

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Miniature Gardening 103: The Water

Miniature Garden with Custom Pool

A custom, double-sided Miniature Garden made for a favorite customer, 2005. This side was an Hawaiian theme, the other side was a Northwest theme.

Miniature Gardening 103: The Water

Welcome back to our Miniature Garden Series of tutorials to 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 miniature garden will need.

A Miniature Garden for dry, full-sun conditions.

A Miniature Garden for dry, full-sun conditions. From left to right, Wooley Thyme, Blue Star Juniper and Sedum Cape Blanco – can be grown with success in the same container.

Huh? Different Types of Watering?

Water is a big factor to consider when choosing plants for your miniature garden, especially for a miniature garden in a container.  Different plants have different watering needs, so plants in the same miniature garden should all tolerate the same water schedule.

Some plants like their root zone to dry out between watering, others like to have a moist root zone at all times.  Planting these two types of plants right next to each other in a small container can result in disaster. The following chart will help to familiarize yourself with the terms you will usually find on the plant tag, or in the plant’s description:

Our Water Chart

Type Meaning Example
Wet The plant pot sits in shallow dish of water, or is in a container without drainage (called a cache pot), and the soil is kept constantly wet. African Violets, Miniature Sweet Flag
Moist Pot has a drainage hole, but is watered often to keep up the moisture level of the soil. Begonias, Baby Tears
Damp Regular water, but let the soil almost dry out in between, like the dampness of wrung-sponge. Lawson Cypress, English Boxwood
Dry Let the soil dry out completely between watering. This avoids over-watering too. Succulents, Sedum, Jade, Cacti

But, How Do I Know?

The only way to really test a plant’s thirst is to put your finger down at least 1” into the soil to feel the level of

A Miniature Cactus Garden

A Miniature Cactus/Aloe Garden, all the plants like the same soil and water conditions.

moisture in the soil. There are many types of water meters available that you poke into the soil to get a reading from, but they are not too reliable and tend to register the degree of moisture differently – and it’s also a question of where on the meter they read – at the tip? Along the side of the poker-thingie? I can never figure it out.

Another good indicator is how the soil feels is how it looks. As you become more familiar with your miniature garden, you will be able to actually see the difference between moist soil and dry soil. Dry soil is lighter in color and will eventually pull away from the sides of the pot. Moist soil is deep in color and looks full and rich. Too-wet soil will look very dark and flat, it will start to breed moss and eventually attract bugs.

Water is something that you need to stay on top of. Light can be added or taken away and most soils can be amended to accommodate any plant, but watering isn’t negotiable as far as the plant is concerned.

So, How Do I Decide Which Plants to Use?

An indoor Miniature Garden

An indoor Miniature Garden. All the plants like bright, indirect light and regular watering, letting the soil dry out to damp in between watering sessions.

Choose the plants that go with your lifestyle for the best results. If you are not home very often and don’t want to dote on your mini garden, go with succulents and plants that like to dry out in between watering. If you are home all the time and love to pamper your miniature garden, choose plants that like to be watered often.

One more thing to consider if you are using pots with drainage holes: how are you going to collect the water as it drains out of the bottom of the pot? If the pot doesn’t come with a saucer, your local garden center has clear, plastic saucers which are very noticeable. If the pot does come with a saucer, be careful of the saucer wicking moisture on your wood surfaces. Again, your local garden center will have a variety of plant coasters to use underneath the saucer to protect the wood. If anyone tells you the a saucer is waterproof because it’s glazed, please don’t believe them, I have the water marks on my tables from years ago to prove it.

Understanding the basics of light, soil and water requirements will help you make the right choice when selecting plants for your miniature garden design. Asking the questions, “Where is the garden going to be placed and how am I going to maintain it?”  and it will narrow down your plant choices and direct you to the plants that will work for you. Designing your miniature gardening with plant care needs in mind will make tending your mini garden rewarding for you, and keep your plants happy and healthy.

Miniature Gardening 104: How to Find the Plants ‘ is next!

Ready to get started? If you liked this, then you’ll like this:
How to Make a Miniature Garden PDF Instant Download

Your Miniature Garden Center

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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.

~> 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 broadleaf tree and shrub found in our full-sized gardens.

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.

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.

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