Miniature Gardening: Tips & Benefits

For urban gardeners, the alternatives are hanging baskets, bottle gardening, tray landscaping and miniature gardening. Miniature gardens are attraction points these days in various plant exhibitions and flower shows. For miniature garden arrangements, please refer to the online nursery Root Bridges to buy miniature garden plants all over India.

What is Miniature Gardening?

Miniature gardening is a little complicated in the sense that many garden features such as paths, rocks, hills, pools (arranged with the help of a mirror), well heads, flowers, shrubs, trees, etc. are to be designed in the miniature form. In practice, a miniature garden is nothing, but a rock garden done on a small scale or what is sometimes referred to as “showcase size”. There is hardly any difference between a window box rock garden and a miniature garden. The only difference is that the former is placed permanently on the windowsill, whereas the latter can be placed anywhere inside the house or in the portico.

Miniature garden

Benefits of Miniature/ Fairy Gardening?

The plants should be arranged in an aesthetic manner. To achieve this, plants of various heights should be used, with the tallest one as a leader. Each plant in the mini garden should be equally vigorous in growth so that one does not over-run the other. The shy growers should be grouped in a separate container. One should not forget to include one or a few trailing plants which will hand down the sides of a container.

  • Imagination & Perspective - As your little (and big) ones are crafting this mini realm of plants, pathways, doors, and fairy figurines, they’re garnering perspective as well. They’re witnessing the fact that all living creatures are special and require different levels of comfort and accessibility.
  • Commitment & Responsibility - When they take care of their fairy gardens, they’re either planting seeds or plugs that will need some tender love and care. If left alone, the garden will fail. Let them take the reins, have some ownership. Remind them to water and prune the fairy garden.
  • Patience & Hope - In a fairy garden, though, they’re exercising hope, as they also watch and wait for fairies to appear.
  • Innovation & Consideration - In the autumn, children may gather acorns for their fairy friends. Maybe the fairies can use these for hats, cups, bowls, and even food during the winter. Kids begin to consider what the sprites need to survive, and they work to collect and even invent solutions. You must let your imagination soar with all the different accessories and miniatures you can add to your scene.
  • Bonding & Cooperation - Everyone works together to produce beautiful fairy-scapes that fairies will certainly want to visit time and again!
  • Improves one’s self-esteem - Building your own fairy garden can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride that you were able to not only collect fairy garden accessories and create a fairy scene, but also curate, plant, and maintain miniature plants that come along with creating a fairy garden. Remember that fairy gardens aren’t only about those miniature accessories, it’s also about knowing which miniature plants work best and can grow under your supervision. Successfully growing plants and keeping them alive can provide a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment like no other.
  • Lowers stress levels - Spending time in the garden where things are peaceful and where you are close to nature help lowers the stress hormone called cortisol. Just as little as 30 minutes can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s a nice way to decompress at the end of the day. dirt can make you feel happy, seriously! The reason behind this is M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria found in soil. This healthy bacterium reduces inflammation, which is a symptom of depression.
  • Helps improves your sleep - A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that light gardening activity enables one to improve sleep quality at night. According to the study, “purposeful activities” such as yoga and gardening had better sleep habits.
  • Improves vitamin D levels - Exposure to sunlight helps improve vitamin D levels and what better way to achieve this than to pursue some fairy gardening?
  • Encourages family bonding - Fairy gardening can be an activity done on your own or with friends and family. If you’re more of a solitary person, you’ll find fairy garden enjoyable because it gives you time to yourself. Others will find that fairy gardening is a great opportunity to spend time with their little kids or grandchildren.

How to make a Miniature Garden?

This type of garden is best laid in containers of concrete, stone, wood, plastic or fibreglass. The true English tradition demands that miniature gardens should preferably lay in old wooden troughs. But under most Indian conditions, the best container will be of concrete. For this purpose, a box that is 25-30 cm deep, 60 cm wide and 90-100 cm long with drainage holes, will be ideal.

Initially, the container is filled to a depth of 7-8 cm with pebbles and gravels for drainage. Over this, a soil mixture consisting of equal parts of good garden loam, sand and leaf-mould or cocopeat is filled leaving a gap of 1-2 cm from the rim for watering. The miniature garden must be placed in full sun. This should be protected from the adverse weather conditions such as hot winds and torrential rains.

The surface of the miniature garden is used to create small valleys, peaks, paths and pools (arranged by the reflection of a mirror). The plants are planted in between. The surface is scattered with coloured pebbles and stones which not only give a natural effect but also prevent the soil from being washed off. A similar technique is followed for gardening in dishes, bowls and trays. You may like to read about how to start a fairy garden.

Plants suitable for miniature gardens

Dwarf Butterfly Agave, crassula , aloe , sedum , snake plant , River Euphorbia Cactus, Euphorbia Rubra Cactus. Everything you need to know about succulents can be found at Root Bridges. Most of the plants suitable for the rock garden can also be used for a miniature garden. Many people like to put their miniature plants (bonsai) in this garden.

For large arrangements:

Plants like Aralia, Dracaena, Syngonium, Ficus can be used in large plant containers can be created to be dwarfs genetically or young plants or regular plants whose growth has been slowed. Use small trees to add height to mimics an outdoor garden. Use the shorter plants as bedding plants to make a lush understory by mixing up textures.

For small arrangements:

Plants like Spider plant, Peperomia, Begonia, African violets in small containers like glass bowls, plastic pots to terracotta planters are used in miniature gardens.

Item needed to make miniature garden –

  • A large open surface concrete pot – make sure it has enough space to hold the soil and a drainage system. Many types of pots can be used like concrete, plastic, troughs, deep dishes, glazed containers, wheelbarrows, wagons, tin tubs, birdbaths, gourds and more.
  • Soil mix and sand – organic potting soil with no fertilizers or water-retaining polymers, a layer of sand as organic soil is very dark.
  • Plants suitable for mini gardens are as stated above as well as preserved moss, miniature ivy and baby tears etc.

Additionally, for decorations purposes you may need small tree branches, sticks, glue (hot, white or wood glue), scissors, utility knife, crafting paper, thick paper, paint and brushes and concrete mix.

Other requirements –

  • Light and temperature requirements – Grow bulbs with a variety of shapes including desk lamps. For indoor miniature gardens, temperature should 60F or 15C all year round.
  • Water requirements – Water only when completely dry with a proper drainage system and a matching saucer.

Tray Gardening:

The principle of gardening in trays is also the same as above. Any tray which is used for serving will be suitable for tray garden, provided the margins are raised at least about 3-4 cm to accommodate the soil. Alternatively, plants grown in decent looking pots may be displayed in trays.

The steps that can be used to create a miniature succulent garden are

  1. Place a two-inch layer of gravel on the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add a healthy layer of the cactus potting mix, a fast-draining soil that retains little moisture.
  3. Time to plant, starting with your largest succulent.
  4. Build out from this succulent.
  5. Add soil wherever it's needed.

Miniature gardens must be cared and maintained after the initial arrangement. In order to avoid overcrowding, the leaves should be trimmed regularly. For more information please visit Root Bridges.

 Mudita Khanna ( has contributed to this article.

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