How To Make A Fairy Garden

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Wee little creatures, fairies are both charming and mysterious. Folklore records them as able to be mean, mischievous or kind to humans, depending on their mood. A fairy garden celebrates these tiny beings by creating a miniature world that invites a fairy to come and stay. You can create a fairy garden in a small spot in your garden, a container on the patio, or in a pot inside your home. What they all share in common are small plants and miniature furniture, houses or fencing that work together to create a diorama of a little world that looks like a fairy’s home.

Where To Create A Fairy Garden

Because of the small scale of plants and furnishings, it’s important that your fairy garden be located where it is easily admired up close. Ideal outdoor spots are near the front door or patio slider, or by your patio table or seating area. Inside, any tabletop or counter will invite admiration of your miniature planting. Just about any little girl would be thrilled to have a fairy garden grace her bedroom. Most fairy gardens are planted in some sort of container, but if you have a planting bed that is near the patio and easily seen, you can use that for your miniature garden.

As all of the plants used are going to be small, and delicate plants like moss and ferns are common, you want your fairy garden in a spot that gets good light, but is protected from full afternoon sun. If you live in an area with very hot summers, your garden will do best inside or in a shaded spot. Inside the house, a position near an eastern or southern facing window will give suitable light. You don’t want your garden near any heat sources, fans, or hot, intensely bright locations.

Fairy Garden Containers

Any container that holds soil and has drainage is suitable for a fairy garden, though if your container will be outdoors, it is best to avoid metal pots that might heat up enough to kill your plants. Fill containers with good quality potting soil, not soil from your backyard, which will become hard and compacted if used in a pot.

  • If you are aiming for a woodland feel, pots made of aged terracotta, hypertufa, wood, coco liners in wrought iron or glazed ceramic are complementary.
  • If you want a more delicate appearance and will have your fairy garden indoors where weather isn’t an issue, look for ceramic or porcelain containers or lined wicker baskets.
  • For full-out whimsy, you can plant a fairy garden in an old suitcase, an unused sink or bathtub sunk into a planting bed, a brightly painted wooden whiskey half barrel, a birdbath or unused fountain.

What Are The Best Plants For A Fairy Garden?

Your fairy garden plants need to be naturally small and slow growing, or else take well to heavy pruning. Plants with small, delicate leaves and flowers are best. Many herbs work well in miniature gardens, as do some small succulents. Whatever your choices, you want all plants that require a similar environment. Don’t use a drought-resistant plant with one that needs constant moisture, or you are heading for disaster.

Some plants to consider for your outdoor fairy garden:

  • Creeping sedum
  • Creeping thyme
  • Ajuga
  • Irish moss
  • Blue star creeper
  • Baby tears
  • Rosemary
  • Primrose
  • Ferns
  • Golden oregano
  • Dwarf boxwood
  • Thrift

For an indoor miniature garden, consider:

  • African violets
  • Pilea
  • Dwarf coleus
  • Pink polka dot plant
  • Small ivy
  • Ferns
  • Peperomia
  • Fittonia

What Else Does Your Garden Need?

Along with miniature plants, your fairy garden needs tiny furnishings. You can really let your imagination run wild here. Go all out with a small house, or just stick with a path, small furniture and perhaps a small stream or pond created with blue gravel or worn glass.

Some popular furnishings for fairy gardens are:

  • Chairs
  • Arbors or garden arches
  • Fences
  • Tiny homes
  • Garden tools and wheelbarrows

You can find small-scale items for your garden at hobby shops that specialize in toy railroads, or check out toy stores for dollhouse furnishings. With the rise in popularity of fairy gardens, there are many websites now offering tiny houses, gates, fences and other décor for your miniature garden.

Put It All Together

Once you have your container, your plants and your furnishings, it’s time to plant your garden. Before actually planting, position everything as you want it, and take time to create the most delightful display. If you are using a house or small building, center it toward the back of the container to form the focal point, and lay out a small path leading to the door. Your tallest plants should be at the back, with smaller plants at the front and sides, but don’t create a rigidly even design. You want a flowing, natural look.

When you have everything positioned the way you like it, carefully plant your greenery, using your fingers or a small trowel to dig holes for roots. When the plants are in, gently press the furnishings and décor into the soil to hold it in place. Use a small watering can to water your garden and check the soil each day. Unless you have chosen drought-resistant plants, such as cactus or succulents, keep the soil moist but not overly wet.

A fairy garden is a charming accent to your indoor or outdoor plant collection. With the tiny furnishings and miniature plants, it’s hard to resist spending time gazing at the garden and imagining fairies dancing and laughing among the flowers.

Last Updated: August 12, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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