I love all things small. And tiny. And little. As a result, mini container gardening is my FAVORITE kind of indoor greening. Using tiny dinosaurs to create little dioramas with said plantings, while not entirely necessary, takes it to a whole new (and desired by me) level of cute.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Choosing Your Containers
My boyfriend Mark and I were in Bolinas, CA and found all these beach rocks with holes in them. (Score!) They are what sparked the idea of doing itty bitty plantings – but you could use any small vessel with a drainage hole. Here’s some other ideas:
- old skateboard wheels (Mark planted a few post photo shoot and they look great!)
- bottle caps
- small jars
- pieces of cedar or teak (water resistant) with a hole drilled
- craggy driftwood
- corks with a holes drilled
- bottom half of an Altoid tin with hole punched in
Really you could use any small vessel with a hole!
If you do have the good fortune to come across suitable rocks, make sure you boil them before starting to plant. They may contain salt or small organisms that would effect the health of the plants. That goes for whatever you end up using – make sure it’s been sterilized either via heat or bleach (hydrogen peroxide or vodka will also work) before adding your tiny greens.
Step 2: Picking Your Plants
I had never tried to plant in anything mini before, so I went to my local small plant supplier, Paxton Gate, to pick up suitable plants and get some guidance from their experts. They were so helpful and sent me home with the following plants:
- raoulia australis
- living stone succulents
- echeveria succulents
- brake ferns
They are all capable of surviving with very little root soil and without needing tons of moisture.
I’m sure there are other varieties that would work, so be sure to ask a local expert!
Step 3: Watering Can
At Paxton Gate I also found this super cute little spray can. Perfect for watering tiny guys!
NOTE: An eye dropper or standard spray bottle would also work.
Step 4: Growing Medium
Sterile potting soil will do the trick. Even though I used mostly succulent plants that would normally go into a dryer growing medium mix, in this case you want the soil to hold onto a bit more moisture because the space/amount is so little.
Step 5: A Dash of Dinos
Feel free to insert small dinos or other little figures to help set the scene.
Step 6: Prepping Your Plants
- Carefully take the plants out of their tiny nursery pots and gently remove as much of the soil as possible. For some of the finer roots use your fingers like a comb to ‘brush’ the dirt out of the root system.
- Separate the stems into small groupings (like pictured). This won’t be necessary for the individual succulents or the moss. (There’s no need to remove anything from the moss before planting.
Step 7: Prepping Your Plants Cont…
- Rinse any remaining soil off of the root systems using room temperature water.
- Repeat for all plants, except for the moss.
Step 8: Prep Your Containers
- Place your small container on a waterproof tray. (yogurt lids work in a pinch!)
- Sprinkle a small layer of dirt into the bottom of the cavity.
Step 9: Planting Your Containers
- If there’s enough space, leave the roots their original length and slowly add a bit of soil at a time as you feed the roots into the hole until the hole is as full of dirt as possible.
- Gently pack the dirt and roots down into their new home.
- Immediately wet the soil (don’t soak it, just moisten it) with a dropper or spray bottle.
- Add a dino, if desired.
Step 10: Planting Example 2
Note: Moss does not require a drainage hole – which is why this geode half plus the moss is an extra awesome team! Keep the moss moist for the first few weeks, then pull back and only water once a month.
Step 11: Planting Example 3
The hole in this rock is only slightly wider than a No.2 pencil! It was the smallest I tried. (And cutest.)
If you have a container as small, you’ll need to give the plant roots a trim in order to fit them in, which is totally ok to do. The only important ‘to dos’ to help a trimmed plant survive is to keep it moist and away from direct sunlight for a few days post hair cut so it can adjust to the change.
I found it helpful to put a clear plastic container with a hole poked in the bottom over this thin, leggy planting for the first week so that it had enough moisture at all times. The smaller the planting hole size, the faster the soil will dry out. Creating a terrarium style environment for the first bit will give it the best chance of survival.