By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Fairygardens give us a way of expressing ourselves while releasing our innerchild. Even adults can get inspired by a fairy garden. Many of the ideasinvolve a small area of the outdoor garden, but the notion can also translateto container and indoor plantings.
Mini succulent gardens are a fun, easy, and low maintenanceway of developing a fairy garden. A fairy garden with succulents is also aninnovative and creative way to introduce plants and their care to children orbeginner gardeners.
Succulent Fairy Garden Ideas
Remember reading a favorite story book as a child and themagical feeling that swirled around you as you imagined strange new worlds andfantastic beings? You can get a smaller version of that sentiment by usinginspired succulent fairy garden ideas. Succulents in a fairy garden should beas inventive as your imagination. The whole idea is to create a mini world thatis based on your vision.
Think back to your childhood, then relax and have fun with asucculent fairy garden. There are no rules, so you can’t do anything wrong;just remember to combine plants with the same cultivation needs in the concept.
Start with choosing your container. It could be a dishgarden, terrarium,or a quaint basket model. Maybe even a tiered garden or one in a teacup. Usewhat you have on hand to express yourself and create a tiny world that evokesstorybook concepts. Now comes the fun part…selecting plants that are playfulwith fun personality and then decorating the garden with pieces that completethe story.
Succulents in a Fairy Garden
The succulents in a fairy garden should be miniature tocomplete the tale and bring magic into your garden idea. Avoid succulents thatwill become too large and try to stick with plants that will not overtake thegarden. This is so you still have room for the decorative touches thatcaptivate and enchant. Some cute selections include:
- Sedum – There are so many colors and varieties of sedum from which to choose, plus they look like miniature roses.
- Burro’s tail – A funny, trailing succulent with opalescent green color, burro’s tail makes an interesting addition to fairy gardens.
- Jade plant – It will eventually get big but is slow growing, and young jade plants make perfect stand-ins for tiny trees.
- Panda plant – Fuzzy and almost white, panda plant adds softness and a unique feel to the fairy dish garden.
- Hens and chicks – The name says it all. Hens and chicks are filled with fanciful delight.
- Echeveria – Like sedum, there are many sizes and varieties of echeveria, with different tones etched along the leaves.
- Lithops – Lithops look a bit like living rocks but bloom and have unique hues.
A few other types of plants available for mini succulentgardens include:
You have your container and your plants set. Now you want tointroduce items that complete the dream. There are many sellers of fairy décor,or you can make your own. You can also use dollhouse items. Go to your localcraft or thrift store and see what tiny items you can find to finish yourfairyland.
You may include things such as furniture, bird houses,mushrooms, trees, figurines or anything else that captivates the imagination.This is the truly fun part. You could retell a classic or create one of yourown; this is where your creative imagination and inner child can really shine.
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Read more about General Cactus Care
How to Make Your Own Mini Hanging Succulent Terrarium
It has been several months since I propagated one of my succulents and they grew very well and turned out wonderful. I have already given away more than half of the babies to my mom and grandma and today I am going to plant some more of them into a couple of small succulent terrariums.
I’m going to be giving these to my sister in law for her birthday. She has a toddler, a baby learning to walk, two large dogs, and a cat, so I made sure to find hanging terrariums to keep them safe.
I found this cute set on Amazon that looks perfect for this present. I like that they can either be hung from the ceiling or can sit flat on a surface. The fact that they come as a pair and have a nice shape to them appealed to me as well.
They are pretty small, but so are the succulents that I’m putting in them. For size reference, Obie, who was eagerly waiting to help me do some planting, is a large cat, around 15 pounds.
If you’re wondering what kind of terrarium you should use for different kinds of plants, check our terrarium guide for everything you need to know.
I also got this fun Terrarium Starter Kit to help with the setup. My sister-in-law’s toddler loves dinosaurs, so I love that this kit comes with miniature dinosaurs to put in the terrariums. These will be so cute in there.
How to Plant a Succulent Arrangement
The key to a successful mini succulent garden is good drainage. Most succulents can go at least a few weeks without water, but they won't tolerate overwatering or wet soil for long. If it’s possible, find a shallow dish with a drainage hole for your plants, or drill one that way, any extra water can run out of the container. Add a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the dish to help excess moisture drain away from the plants' roots, then fill the dish with a fast-draining potting mix (look for a potting soil made especially for succulents and cacti).
Next, make a rough sketch of the design you’d like to make, and figure out which succulents can bring it to life. If you want to create a tiny succulent bouquet, start by half-burying a small pot, cup, or bowl on its side in the soil, then arrange succulents at the top to look like they’re growing or spilling out of it. To make a succulent tree, place a small piece of wood or a twig on top of the soil to act as a trunk, then plant succulents around it to look like leaves. Or arrange the succulents in a shape, such as a heart or a sun.
Try using different shapes and colors of succulents too. A red or pink succulent could look almost like a flower paired with mostly green varieties. Just double-check that all of the plants you use have similar water and light needs.
Once you’ve chosen your succulents, plant them in the soil in the arrangement you want. If you’re using an extra element, like a half-buried mini pot, place it in your dish first before you start planting. After adding the plants, be sure to water your succulents well.
Then, it's time to add a few finishing touches. One option is to cover the exposed soil with small rocks. Using one color like white or black will make your plants stand out, or try arranging different colors in stripes or rows to create a patterned background. Fine sand could also work for a beach theme.
Before Installing Your Succulent Landscape
Before you begin creating your garden, there are a few things to consider.
Most succulents will do well in the same soil that other garden plants grow in as long as it drains well. Soil depth depends a lot on the size of the succulents you intend to plant, but a depth of 12 to 18 inches should be sufficient since these plants tend to have shallow root systems.
If your soil is compacted or full of clay, it is imperative to add plenty of organic material such as compost. If you aren't sure how well your soil drains, you can check by digging a one-foot deep hole and filling it with water. If the water drains in thirty minutes or less, your soil is porous enough for growing succulents. If it's not, you will need to add organic material and check for drainage using the same method in another spot.
Pay careful attention to the spacing requirements listed on the labels of individual plants. In general, succulents don't mind being close, but it is always best to follow the spacing recommendations that are given for each plant. As far as overall spacing for a succulent garden, you can easily scale any plan to suit your space from as little as one square foot to larger areas. Simply group the plants in an attractive arrangement that allows you to view the individual plants and then plant them.
Succulents thrive in arid conditions and are quite hardy once established. However, they do need ample moisture, especially during the growing season. Rot is the most common problem with succulent plants, and it's usually the result of over watering. Water deeply when the soil feels dry a couple of inches down and be sure to let the soil dry out again between waterings.
How to make DIY Mini Polymer Clay Succulents
I wanted my pots to be sort of terracotta-y, and I didn’t have the right color of clay, so I smooshed a number of colors together to get a terracotta shade. If you’re not that picky about pot color, I think ANY color would do. White pots could be painted with cute designs really easily.
Above are the colors I blended to get my terracotta color. I love the fact that whatever color you want, you can almost always create it by blending other colors. Just make sure to mix your clay really well! (It’s actually easier to work with if you’ve worked it well.)
I split the “terracotta” clay I made into 4 equal-ish sized balls, and shaped little pots out of them.
For the traditional terracotta pot look, I flattened a ribbon of clay and wrapped it around the top my of my pot.
I wanted each pot to be unique, so I did different sizes and shapes for each one. As you can see, I let perfection go LOL. None of the pots are remotely perfect or symmetrical, or even…. straight. haha.
(I think the fairies are cool with wobbly lines, so I am too.)
I added a drop of liquid bake-able clay, and filled the pots with “dirt” – tiny brown balls – and texturized them with a small stiff bristle brush. You could use an old toothbrush for this.
I didn’t know what I was doing, of course, so I filled the entire center of the pot with dirt… THAT turned out to be really unnecessary, as you can’t see ANY of the dirt in two of the pots, and you can only see dirt on the outer edges in the other two.
I would just do dirt around the edges to start with, and you can always add more as a finishing touch where needed later.
I didn’t have “leaf shape cutters”, so I just cut leaf shapes out with a knife, and shaped them a little with my fingers before I placed them in the pot.
Plants in real life don’t actually look perfect or have 100% symmetrical leaves, so I didn’t stress about my leaves much.
I used the knife tip to place the leaves, for the most part, because my fingers just kept squashing them.
I wanted 4 DIFFERENT kinds of plants, so I made one crassula type plant by rolling “fingers” of pale-r green and sticking them all together. (In the end I added small purple clay blobs to the top for color, but that did make it look a tiny bit less realistic I think. That’s ok, maybe it’s a special fairy-type crassula. lol.)
To make the purpley-bluey hen + chicks plant, I cut little balls in half and rolled them a little against the side of a thin stick (a pen would work too).
I placed them with a stick, because fingers REALLY didn’t work here.
After I had built two entirely purple plants in this pot, I could see it might be kind of “blending together” without any other color, so I added some blue to my purple, and I LOVE the way it came out.
There are 6 individual plants in the blue-purple plant pot, and it took BY FAR the longest to create. Maybe a full hour? (The others all took under 15 minutes!)
To make the tiny cactus I made 3 small balls, flattened them and textured them with the point on my stick.
I didn’t feel like I was able to press the base down well into the pot, so I ran a small wire through it – but I don’t know if that was necessary.
Bake your DIY Mini Polymer Clay Succulents according to clay package directions.
The following video from youtube is great for anyone who’s just starting out with polymer clay succulents!