Miniature Garden Tutorials: Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants
Miniature gardening is a very accessible hobby and a very exciting hobby in that attracts a lot of new people to try gardening. Creating and maintaining a tiny garden is so much easier to take care of than a full-sized garden - just grab a fork and do some raking and your done in about 35 seconds, (give or take.)
But, for some new gardeners, there is a misconception that you can "bend" any plant to your needs. This is not so. Plants are the great leveler of society and it's probably why I love them so: they don't care what YOU want; they don't care about money, religion, politics, nor your lifestyle. They only care about what they need and if they don't get it, that's when they start to get the bugs and pests.
The do care about having their three main needs taken care of: water, light and temperature. THIS is why "choose the right plant for the right place" is the gardener's golden rule. And this is so much easier than it sounds!
Create custom miniature patios and pathways that don't wash away with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. Click the picture for more!
“Why can’t I grow this plant inside for the winter?”
Plants are like people. Every person has certain needs in order to thrive, and plants work the same way.
Let us use me as an example. ;o) I moved from Toronto because it was way too cold for too long in the winter, (like Buffalo, NY but not as snowy or stormy.) So, I left to travel to find my place in the world.
After an extended stay in Costa Rica, this redhead realized it was way too hot in South America! Add the energy-draining heat to the bugs that loved to bite me and it wasn't a hard decision to headed north. Feeling a little like Goldilocks, I landed in the great Northwest which was perfect. I definitely needed a cooler climate in order to thrive but not quite nose-hair-freezing Toronto. Seattle was just right!
Plants work the same way.
Indoor plants are tropical plants and like to be above 60°F (15°C) all year ‘round. If you live in a climate where it is warm all year, the indoor and outdoor plants choices will overlap.
If you live in an area that gets cold or freezing in the winter, you can bring indoor plants outside in the summertime, and return the plant indoors for the winter, only because you are maintaining the climate that the indoor plant requires.
Variegated Boxwood Trees are combined with Baby Tears. The patio is custom-made and built right into the pot with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. Click the picture to see more.
“Why did my plant die?”
More often than not, plants die because the gardener put the it in the wrong place with the wrong temperature, light or watering schedule. This is not unusual. Every new gardener does it when they are learning how to grow plants: you will challenge Mother Nature either knowingly or unknowingly.
Thankfully there are signals, like shriveling, drooping or dropping leaves, or dry-looking soil peeling away from the sides of the pot, are things to look for if you are over-watering or under-watering.
And yes, I kill plants too – and I’m supposed to have “Two Green Thumbs.” Last weekend, I got fed up with my not-so-beautiful-anymore Victoria Nest Fern (a full-sized houseplant) and threw it in the compost bin. The plant needed more light than I could give it, and it did not like the drafts in the front room which was my brightest room. Or maybe I didn’t keep it evenly moist enough. Or both… Either way, I was sad to lose it but, life is too short to worry about what doesn’t work for me. I’ll find other plants that will do well in those conditions.
Now About Those Outdoor Plants
Outdoor plants, like the Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Alberta Spruce shown above for example, need the roots to stay cool and damp all year ‘round. Spruces go dormant in the winter months and it's the temperature change that signals to the tree to do so.
If you bring this kind of outdoor plant inside your home for the winter, you will not be able to keep the roots cool and, with the ambient inside temperature, the poor wee Spruce will not get a chance to go dormant and rest. Also with the forced-air heat inside your home, it will dry out the foliage and the soil quickly. After several weeks, you will end up with an unhappy plant that will attract pests and disease.
Now, for your miniature indoor garden, there are indoor plants that look like outdoor plants so we can have that “outdoorsy” look inside for the winter. Certain conifers, like the Elwood’s Cypress or Monteray Cypress look like trees that we grow in our full-sized landscape.
Baby Boxwood trees, the Variegated English Boxwood, or the slower-growing Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood, can stand in for the large broad leaf tree and shrub found in our full-sized gardens. (See what indoor plants are available now, in our online store.)
With a little compromise, you can have a happy miniature garden that looks like it is a slice of the outdoors. See more of our indoor plants choices here.
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