Posts Tagged gardeners

How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Our first display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. A good tip: pick a pot with a lip on it so you have something to grip if you have to move it or pick it up (not like most of the pots above!)

How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

From the Archives, 2004: This pot is 17″ high and 14″ wide and big enough to put a path through the middle of it.

Planting a miniature garden in a big container creates room for more fun, more plants and more ideas. You can visually break up your design into a couple of smaller garden rooms within that one big pot, with paths leading to and fro. You can make a huge yard with several focal points happening around the container, or have enough room for a small house or building, a particular favorite of fairy gardeners. We talk about the different kinds of pots that can be used miniature gardening in our new book Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, but here are a few more tips on how to save some time and money – and your back – when working with very large pots or containers.

What’s Deep? What’s the Minimum?

What do we consider a deep pot for miniature gardening? Any pot that is deeper than 14″, in my opinion. We recommend at least 8″ of soil so the miniature garden can stay together for a couple/few years before needing repotting. This allows the trees and plants to grow and weave together and you still get that aged-garden-look after a couple of years that is very enchanting.

Ad-FallPlanting - 1

How to Keep Your Big Pot and Plant It Too

Another popular question when planning a miniature garden in a huge pot is, “Should I put something in the bottom before I start planting?”  Yes, and there are several reasons why you can go ahead fill that big container up with some sort of filler, leaving 8″ to 10″ from the top of the pot, before you add regular potting soil that will make you, and the plants, happier in the long run.

The miniature garden plants that we recommend to use are usually small to start with, so they don’t need a lot of soil to get growing. I find some types of plants tend to falter when planted in a huge container full of soil, as most plants prefer a smaller root environment when they are young. We call it “swimming in soil,” when the water wicks away from the plant’s roots to the bottom of the pot where gravity pulls it, and the moisture doesn’t stay around the roots where it is needed. Then the roots dry out, the plant starts to stress and falter. By using filler, it shortens the depth of the soil, prevents the water from wicking, the soil stays damp longer and the roots stay happy.

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Planting miniature gardens in large pots leave more room for creativity.

Fill ‘Er Up

Another reason to use filler on the bottom of the pot is huge pots can get really heavy. The spot you choose may be perfect for that garden this summer and into next summer but you may want to eventually move it. The two most popular ways to fill up your pots are:

Styrofoam peanuts or popcorn: Most packing peanuts are biodegradable now so put them in a plastic shopping bag, tie the bag shut and place the bag upside-down in the pot so water doesn’t get inside and stagnate. If you are using a really big pot, use several of bags-full and fill the pot up to about 10” to 12” from the top.

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

Upside-down poly pots make a great filler. Smush them to fit them in.

Upside-down black plastic nursery pots: Start with big 1 or 2 gallon pots in the center

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center!

Join us! We’re digging deeper! 

of the bottom of the pot and work in the upside-down 4” pots, squishing them so they fill in as much space as possible. You can cut a couple of pieces of cardboard and layer it on top of the upside-down pots to create the “bottom” of the pot, or you can just start filling up the pot with soil.

We’ve heard of people using upside soda-cans and they would work only if they are rinsed out really, really well. Otherwise the sugar in the soda would draw unwanted pests to your container.

Note that this is for miniature gardening with small plants. Bigger plants mean more roots. If you are creating mixed containers of regular perennials and nursery plants (aka trees and shrubs) you may want to use potting soil all through your container to leave plenty or room for root growth.

SOIL CONCERNS: Use organic potting soil with no added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers. Your miniature garden plants don’t need it and the added fertilizer will burn the roots of the miniature and dwarf conifers.

POTTING SOIL VS. TOPSOIL: Potting soil has all the necessary nutrients and micro-organisms for a contained environment. If you look closely, you’ll see rich, dark organic matter, bits of sand and perlite or vermiculite mixed in to keep the potting soil from becoming a big lump of dirt over time.

Topsoil is plain soil, without the added ingredients for pots and containers. It is used to amend the soil in garden beds where any water drains naturally. The plant’s roots have all the room they want and can find nutrients on their own.

Part 2 is here. This was getting too long and I have more tips and techniques to share here.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter published almost every Friday. Join us, and thousands of other miniature gardeners, here.

Book Cover - Low Res 008

Now available at a book seller near you, or


Comments (9)

An Open Letter for Miniature Gardeners and Fairy Gardeners: A Heart to Heart

Janit & Steve Calvo with their 1/6 scale miniature garden

This is Steve and I in front of our 1/6 scale (GI Joe/Barbie size) miniature garden that we created last summer (2015.) Steve loves this scale because his hands are too big for the smaller sizes. Me? I’m a sucker for anything miniature! Lol!

An Open Letter for Miniature Gardeners & Fairy Gardeners: A Heart to Heart

UPDATED: A new year always brings reflection and renewal. After much thought, discussion and building a Barbie sized miniature garden, Steve and I have decided to make some changes to how we connect with you, our dear and fellow miniature gardeners.

We would like to introduce the new Miniature Garden Society, it will be a private and safe website and club where everyone can go to connect, grow and create.

Our main reason for this change is to grow our passion, share more ways to create and to have fun. As an original content creator, I enjoy coming up with new and unusual ideas around our passion of gardening in miniature. I love fitting a bit of whimsy into my everyday life to brighten my day, lift my spirits and make myself giggle.

For the last 18 years, we have been casting a wide net and promoting the idea of miniature gardening throughout the world so everyone is aware that it exists – a mission that is now almost accomplished – so it’s time to dig in and grow the hobby itself.

From the feedback and questions from the first book that we’ve been receiving over the last year I know you want

Everything miniature garden will be included!

I’ve collected information, photos, insight, how-tos and much, much more over the years that I need to get to you, our fellow Miniature Gardeners! The Miniature Garden Society is perfect for fairy gardening too, one of the bonuses is all about fairy gardening.

to go deeper into miniature gardening too. So, how much info and how many ideas have I collected? If you’re familiar with the Gardening in Miniature book (250 pages,) I have about twice as much material and I can easily fill two more books. I’m very eager to share it all with you but have grown tired of the people that ruthlessly rob and scrape my ideas to get them made in China. I’d rather share them directly with you, our customer and fellow miniature gardener. 

Our online stores are very fun and we are still going to keep them open. We’ve met thousands of great people through them, and we wouldn’t be here without our fellow miniature gardeners. But now that the hobby has made into the mainstream, we’re finding that we can’t grow as much as we would like if we only did the online retailing.

By forming this community, you can have more direct contact with us, and we with you, and we both will have a safe place to do it where others can benefit from the ideas and answers as well. Forums, chats, photo albums, databases, libraries, and much more, will all be there to share and learn from one another. All we need is a beginning and this is it.

Join us! Early-Bird Special Sign-ups is on now!

It’s a place to put all our information so you can access it
easily, whenever you need to.
Join us for the Miniature Garden Society here.

Everything miniature garden will be included!

The Miniature Garden Society member-only website will be a place to put all the miniature plant details and growing info too.

If you are new to the email list, you can find out just how creative we’ve been with this new hobby by scrolling through our Mini Garden Guru blog, checking out or main website, or looking us up on Facebook. 

Since 2008, we’ve be publishing almost-weekly blogs highlighting fun and different ways to enjoy this new hobby, sharing first-hand experience growing the right kind of plants, what accessories work well, why they work and much, much more.

If you are familiar with our work here at Two Green Thumbs, then you’ll know just how creative we can be with our sustainable and fun ideas – and the ideas never seem to stop either. 

So please join us! For way more information and to find out what is inside this special website, please visit the Miniature Garden Society.


Our new logo for the Miniature Garden Society

Our new logo for the Miniature Garden Society

There's a little garden in all of us.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Comments (4)

%d bloggers like this: