Top 10 New [Miniature] Gardener Questions Answered
~ I asked my mailing list last month, what two questions were foremost on their minds when talking about miniature gardening. The questions that came up in the survey were more than miniature garden questions; they were, in fact, legitimate garden questions. With this current “green” trend heating up, there are probably a lot more people out there with the same questions. So, let me see if I can clear up some of the garden questions right now:
#1 – Right plant, right place. Plants are like people. We’re all different. Each plant has specific needs, and each plant has a specific place it likes the best, just like us. The saying, “Right plant, right place” really means to choose your plants after you’ve figured out the location, light, soil, temperature, etc. of where you want to plant.
#2 – Indoor vs. outdoor: Indoor plants are tropical plants that like to stay 60 degrees Fahrenheit, (about 15 Celsius) or above, all year ‘round. If you are in a colder climate and bring your outdoor plants inside for the winter, they will die. If you live in south Florida, and bring you plants inside for the winter, they won’t.
#3 – How fast plants grow: Plants grow. Some plants grow a lot faster than others. Look on the plant’s tag for how fast and big it will grow and choose accordingly. You don’t have to know it all – just know what you grow.
A very good example, (and a huge pet peeve of mine,) is planting a miniature garden with herb starts. That Rosemary and Thyme that you found at the nursery sure look cute in the wee 4” pots in the springtime – that Rosemary sure looks like a wee tree, eh? And that Lemon Thyme is the cutest little shrub!! – but, alas, any herb start will more than quadruple in size before you are halfway through the summer. And no, they probably won’t tell you that at the nursery either and let you go ahead and buy it, plant it, love it… until you realize that you’ve started with the wrong plant.
#4 – Water: Plants have different watering needs. Not all plants need regular water and there are some plants that need water all the time. If you travel a lot, get a succulent garden, it needs to dry out in between watering sessions. If you like doting and puttering almost daily, grow annuals or bonsai.
#5 – How to water: How do you know if your plant needs water? Put your finger into the soil at least an inch deep and, depending upon what the plant needs, water or don’t. Water meters don’t quite work as well as your finger unfortunately and the soil does wash off easily.
#6 – How much light? When talking about “full sun,” “part sun,” “part shade,” and “shade,” this is the light that your garden/deck/porch gets, in general, throughout the year. A good example is the north side of the house, it will get full sun in high summer, but is still a full shade spot. (Note: this is for this side of the equator. ;o)
#7 – The right kind of dirt: Soil is alive and dirt is dead. And no, it’s not a sixties protest line. Soil contains lots of yummy organic matter and tiny critters in it that the plants need to live. It is genuinely “alive.” Dirt is what fills the cracks in the sidewalk. And use potting soil for your containers – soil from the garden bed will not work in a pot.
#8 – Fertilizer: Not every plant needs fertilizer. Vegetables and annuals – the plants that grow fast and just survive for the summer, need more fertilizer. All other plants, look it up or ask first. Too much fertilizer can kill. Consider manure, compost and cover crops as you get further into the idea, as great alternatives for boosting the soil in your garden bed. All pots will need fertilizer eventually.
#9 – Pruning: Not all plants need pruning. Some are to be enjoyed for a lifetime without one snip or saw cut.
#10 – Dead plants: All gardeners lose plants. Don’t be afraid to try gardening for fear of killing plants. If at first you don’t succeed, just go get another plant!
#11 – BONUS! Drainage Holes & Gravel: All outdoor pots will need a drainage hole to allow the rainwater to pass through. Without the hole, the water will rot the plants and become a big smelly mess. Unless, of course, it is a water garden. Don’t use gravel in the bottom of the pot for drainage. This recently de-bunked myth actually keeps the water from draining out of the soil (it’s a water surface tension thing.) Where there are rocks there could be soil.
Good garden advice is out there, just beware of the charlatans dishing out advice on the Internet. See our blog post, How to Identify an Expert on the Internet for more signs of what you look for when seeking online advice. If that ‘expert’ is on Youtube going on about plants and there isn’t a single plant around them, you should question that. If they are constantly blogging without pictures or visual examples of their OWN gardens or projects – or just filling a pot of soil with a bunch of miniatures and no plants – go find somebody else to learn from because they probably are armchair gardeners trying to fill up the page, regurgitating someone else’s info (and often lifting the photos too) just to get the advertising dollars.
Technically, you shouldn’t have to look very hard for the original and authentic content creators and follow them. You’ll know by the extensiveness of their work, by their websites, blog or on their social media channels. Look for the makers who make the stuff, not just write about it – because anyone can do that.
That said, please visit our very authentic and original Miniature Garden Center online store: https:/twogreenthumbs.com – we don’t follow, we lead. We’re not sponsored by anyone so we can provide you with the real, honest information about the plants and accessories that work well in your miniature garden. :o)
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GREAT pieces of advice! Thank you.
What a joy your newsletters are to me. I have been receiving them for awhile and have wanted to do a miniature. I live in a motorhome park just about 75 miles northeast of Fresno. I have a little space — a small patio and a small front yard. I want to start a miniature this spring — I’d like one about the size of a garbage can lid. I have your phone number and will give you a call later. Thank you so very much for your newsletter — it’s like a letter from home. I look forward to it.
hello again i hope you and steve are doing well. jack and i are . its exciting reading about your mini gardening it sounds like fun. talk to you soon. gina
Hi Gina! Good to hear from you! All is well on our side – thanks for the kudos! Janit
very cool info…say, this weekend in Morro Bay, CA there is an all things miniature 20th anniversary Dollhouse Miniature Show and Sale. I was stunned and it was my observant hubby who showed me the newspaper article. I nearly fell out of my chair…it’s only 30 minutes from us…who knew??? I can’t wait – will let you know how it went…hope all is well with you…
Great post! I am currently gathering information for a talk I am giving to some new gardeners and found a few good points to share with them here. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.