Consider Cacti for the Fairy Garden

Each and every miniature garden has its own personality. Some are filled with miniature trees that mimic the big branches and green leaves of life-size parks and gardens. Others assemble mini succulents or colorful flowers. This summer, I have been experimenting with a unique miniature plant that used to make me nervous: the cactus! Cacti, even on a miniature scale, can be intimidating with their strange shapes and spiky spines. But, when properly planted and cared for, they actually make some of the most beautiful and creative miniature gardens. Keep reading to find out how to plant a cactus container garden.


DIY cactus miniature gardens can be created indoors or out, depending on your local climate. In the American Southwest, an outdoor cactus garden works well, but elsewhere on the continent, you will want to keep your cactus garden indoors. Cacti need sunshine and very dry weather. Pick out a windowsill or sunny spot in your home that is not too drafty or cool. That is where you will want to place your cactus garden, which will need to remain frost-free in order to survive. For desert cacti, aim for a location that receives about four hours of direct sunlight each day. For tropical cacti (such as Christmas cactus) you can provide slightly less light.


Unlike other miniature plants, cacti have shallow roots, and they are slow growers. Be on the lookout for a short, shallow container, such as a glass bowl, wide vase, or small basket. It does not need to be very deep. At the bottom, you should start by spreading a thin layer of gravel. Then add porous, sandy, well-draining soil, such as a cactus-specific potting mix. The container can be filled almost to the top, leaving an inch or two between the top of the soil and the top rim of the container.

Cactus Care

Note: Thick gardening gloves and tongs with silicone tips are hugely helpful when planting a cactus garden! Be careful and work slowly to avoid getting stuck by spines.

Whether you plant on impressive cactus or a whole family of interesting and colorful cacti, your miniature plants will be the start of a wonderful fairy garden. Large rocks, glass pebbles, fences, stairs, and fairy furniture all make fun additions to any cactus garden. Pair with succulents and colorful foliage for a mixed container. After planting and securing any fairy houses or miniature accessories, I like to add an additional layer of small pebbles on the top of the soil to complete the look.

Overwatering should be avoided. Water your cactus garden once after planting. Then wait until the soil dries out completely before watering again. Most prickly plants should be watered about once a week in the spring and summer. Growth slows in the cooler months. To ensure even growth, rotate your dish garden a quarter-turn at least once a month. Otherwise, they will grow towards the light source, resulting in wavy or bent miniature plants.

Ready to get planting? When it comes to cactus fairy gardens, the possibilities are many. Do not worry too much about themes. While it can be fun to create a Wild West or Beach-themed miniature garden full of cacti, you can also allow the miniature plants to hold their own. Any guest who is lucky enough to glimpse your cactus-filled miniature garden will be delighted by these miniature plants. And I bet you will have fun growing these low-maintenance beautifies.

Happy Gardening!  


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