Miniature gardening can be both fun and challenging. There are no hard and fast rules for creating a miniature. It's only limited by the scope of your imagination.
The first step to creating a miniature garden is choosing a container. Possibilities are limitless. Choose a traditional container, buy a pot, or go with something unexpected and whimsical such as an old wheelbarrow or little red wagon. Using a wagon or other toy can be a fun and educational project for you and a child to share. If your ideas seem limited, don't worry, a child's imagination knows few bounds. Looking at your project through a child's eyes can give you access to a world of unlimited ideas.
Once you have a container, construct your miniature garden around a particular theme or use things that strike your fancy. There are a myriad of miniature items for sale online and in craft stores. Look around your house and you might be surprised by the number of things you already have on hand that would work well in a miniature garden project.
If you’re using a small container, you will need to choose your plants and flowers carefully. Pick varieties that won't quickly spread beyond the container. Some good choices for blooming plants with a dwarf habit and small flowers are Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, some species of sedums, and chamomile which has small daisy-like blooms. Or try some of the mosses such as Scotch or Irish Moss. Other plants that work well in miniature gardens are Blue Star Creeper, Lobelia, Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort), Pepperomia, Dwarf Mondo Grass, Corsican Mint, Hemianthus micranthemoides (Baby's Tears) and small succulents such as Haworthia fasciata.
After you've chosen the plants, be sure to use the proper planting medium to fill the container. Do the plants need acid or alkaline soil? Research your plant choices to make sure you understand their growing requirements as well as which plants grow well together. When planted in a container, those with similar needs will have a more successful outcome. When making a miniature garden, some of the biggest disappointments result from combining plants that have markedly different growing requirements. Don't combine plants just because you love each of them and hope they will grow together. They probably won't.
Keep in mind that there's a big difference between soil and dirt. By virtue of its abundant organic matter, soil is a living thing. In comparison, dirt contains little or nothing that will support healthy plant growth. Weeds thrive in dirt. Desirable plants don't. The mineral portion of soil is inert, but that is only one component of good soil. Healthy organic soil also contains decayed plant materials along with microscopic organisms that live in the soil and make it viable for good plant growth. Within one teaspoon of organic soil, three-fourths of its weight comes from bacteria, fungi and the other microscopic life within it and without which plants would not grow. Never use soil from your garden. it could be sandy, loamy or clay in composition and is never suitable for a miniature garden. Topsoil should only be used outdoors in a garden or planting bed. It's also best to avoid commercial potting mixes that contain added fertilizer or water-retentive polymer beads.
Carefully consider the placement of the miniature garden once it's complete. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Will it be situated in sun or shade? Will it be placed on the ground or raised so that it can be more easily viewed? If situated on the ground, is there enough clearance to avoid crowding from other plants? Can the miniature garden be easily seen and enjoyed?
Once you create a miniature garden, it will need to be carefully maintained. Problems that might arise include shrunken, wilted or yellow leaves indicating a lack of water. Brown leaf tips usually indicate too much water, fertilizer or sun and poor drainage. Mold on the surface of the soil is generally due to over-watering or poor drainage. Insects, including gnats and white flies, can become problematic. My favorite means of controlling pests is with an organic spray insecticide. Read labels carefully before using any chemical on your miniature garden.
Credits: thumbnail and top photo from Morguefile; center photo is mine.