Create this Indoor miniature garden as a centerpiece for the holidays at our Nov. 23rd workshop at Swansons Nursery, Seattle Wa. (Click the picture to get to the calendar for more workshop details.) This pot is about 12″ wide.
More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery
Don’t you just love this hobby? The seasons changing can only mean another miniature garden and now you can make one for the indoors! Do you want a wee beachy-garden scene to get you through the cold months? Or, create a miniature gratitude garden for Thanksgiving? Let’s recap what you need to know, and then follow with a few examples of the different indoor miniature gardens we’ve grown over the years.
Ten Golden Rules are from The Houseplant Expert, Dr. D. G. Hessayon, my favorite go-to book for indoor plants and a great reference for your bookshelf. Here’s a quick summary of his top 10 adapted for miniature gardening.
1. Don’t drown them. Roots need air as well as water. Let the soil dry out until barely damp. Put your finger down into the soil about 1” deep to test and yes, your finger is still the best way.
2. Give them a rest. Plants need less water and feeding in the winter. Some plants may not look as good, or need cutting back, before the new growth signals their return. Be patient and follow the plant’s signals.
3. Accept the loss of “temporary” plants. Some plants are not meant to live more than a season or two. Some miniature gardeners treat outdoor plants as short-lived houseplants during the winter. The Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce, or the Pixie or Pixie Dust, is often used this way because they are true miniature Christmas trees.
4. Give them extra humidity. The average houseplant needs more humidity in the winter as the forced-air heat dries out the air quite quickly. By misting or grouping your houseplants around your miniature garden, you can maintain a better level of moisture in the air around the plants.
5. Treat trouble promptly. With Google at our fingertips, there is really no reason not to be able to identify a plant-problem quickly and easily. State the problem plainly; name the plant and search under Google Images to find it faster. For example, “brown spots on parlor palm leaves.” Search at least two or three sites to get a better perspective of the solution. Not everyone is an expert out on the Internet, most often the most simple and natural solution is best.
6. Know when to repot. When the plants start to look sickly, then it may be time to repot. Look for the roots growing out of the bottom drainage holes to know when.
7. Choose wisely. Right plant, right place. You can’t grow a sun-loving plant in a dark corner nor can you grow a shade-loving plant in front of a sunny, southern window.
- Water can with a long, narrow spout to get the water through to the bottom of the plants. Get used to how it pours before using indoors or you’ll make a big mess the first time.
- Mister – but know which plants like more, which like less.
- Saucers AND protective pads with plastic on one side, felt on the other. Don’t trust any pot or saucer on your good wood surfaces. Use an extra moisture-barrier-pad recommended for plants with a plastic backing to avoid wicking. I’ve seen cork mats, but I’m not sure if they wick moisture or not.
- Organic fertilizer. Avoid chemical fertilizers of any kind, the plants just don’t care for it and it builds up in the soil.
- Soft sponge for cleanup.
- Old kitchen spoon for repotting and fork for raking.
- Scissors or small garden shears – or both.
- indoor Potting Soil – Use potting soil without any extra fertilizers or moisture-retaining polymers. Look for an organic, indoor potting mix for a general-purpose soil that will be okay for most of your houseplants. Succulents, cacti and African Violets need more drainage material, like vermiculite or perlite.
You will notice that there is not a lot of variety yet in the plants that are shown here. That is because I killed the rest of them. Yep. I tend to kill indoor plants a lot better than our outdoor plants. The plants shown here are some of the tougher plants I have found for gardening in miniature. For the most part, I’ve included the plant’s names, and the growing notes under each photo.
A Parlor Palm and Norfolk Pine anchor the garden, filled in with miniature Aloe and Hawarthias as the understory. The Pine was left in its original poly pot to help keep the roots damper than the other plants. The lagoon-shaped pond adds to the theme. (“Janit Calvo’s Lagoon Pond” is now discontinued.) This pot is about 22″ in diameter.
One of our all-time most popular plants, the English Variegated Boxwood stands alone to make a simple gratitude garden for a sunny spot. This pot is about 8″ wide.
A baby Parlor Palm on the left and a Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood on the right. This miniature mediation gardens need regular water and bright light. This pot is about 8″ wide.
The tree in the back is the Variegated English Boxwood, to the right is Dwarf Mondo Grass, a small-leafed succulent with an elusive name ;o), in the foreground, two Kingsville Boxwood shrubs. Needs regular water with bright light. Sedum cuttings in the urns will last a few months before needing replacing. Large size or one-inch scale accessories. This pot is about 20″ across.
The same garden as above, but with medium size, half-inch scale accessories and gravel mulch in the garden beds. You can see how the smaller accessories are swimming in such a large pot, but also notice how big they make the whole garden appear.
A custom-made miniature garden planter from England. Elwood Cypresses on the each end, Dwarf Mondo Grass behind the urn, sedum cutting in the urn, a small boxwood shrub to the right of the bench and baby tears as the “ground cover.” (Get in touch with me if you want more info about this handmade planter.) This garden needs bright, indirect light and a very cautious watering schedule as this box has no drainage holes. This container is 21″ wide by 9″ deep.
A simple Fairy Vine and a handmade trellis is the perfect place for an daily empowering message. The “boulder” anchors the garden and makes it look established. This pot is about 7″ across.
An impromptu miniature garden centerpiece for Halloween that I made a few years ago. It lasted about three weeks before it turned to mush. I would try this again with a taller pumpkin – the candle burnt the top of the “greenhouse.” The pumpkin was about 10″ in diameter.
SEE more of our plants that we recommend for indoor miniature gardening here.
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