Choosing plants for your fairy garden
A garden is a planned space set aside for display, cultivation or enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. Gardens can incorporate both natural and man-made elements.
Choosing plants for you fairy garden is a lot of fun but can be equally overwhelming with all the choices available! Let’s take a look at different plant varieties for different garden styles. I’ll cover the benefits of using artificial plants and if the are right for you. I’ve also included a section on moss, including living and preserved options. You can click on a topic in the menu below to jump to a section. Let’s get started!
What is the difference between a fairy garden and a miniature garden?
A miniature garden is simply a garden created on a small scale. Miniature gardens may incorperate bonsai, miniature or dwarf plant varieties, or may simply be quite small in the space that they occupy. Miniature gardens may incorperate structures and decorative elements.
A fairy garden is any garden, regardless of size or elements, that is home to the fairies. Any garden is a fairy garden if you acknowledge the existance of fairy energy in it or create it with the intention of inviting fairies to exist within it.
For example, a doll house is not a fairy house because it is small. However, the moment a child decides that fairies live in it, it instantly transforms into one!
A garden is just a garden, unless you say it's a fairy garden.
Proportional (miniature and dwarf) plants are optional.
Can I use doll house ornaments in my fairy garden?
You can put whatever you like in your garden. However, there are some differences that make products specifically designed for fairy gardens more suitable such as the presence of a stake for secure positioning, materials and weight
What shoud my fairy garden look like?
Create your garden. Step back and take a look. There... that is what your fairy garden should look like.
Your fairy garden is your story and unique to you. Pinterest perfect gardens might be lovely to look at, but remember that a lot of the images you find are photos of displays in garden centres. If you wish to create a photo perfect garden, build it! If your world is beautiful chaos, roll with it.
If you love the idea of small scale plants that are proportional to your fairy garden elements, take a look at small, miniature and dwarf varieties. Let’s take a look at some of my favourites…
Small Scale Flowering Ground Covers
Dense carpets of creeping, flowering ground coverings will create the visual effect of meadows full of wild flowers. Alyssum is available is a rainbow of colours which, when carefully designed, creates a magical ombre effect. Pratia is a firm fave of fairy gardeners, loved for its star shaped flowers and hardiness.
Mazus Fairy Dust
(Mazus reptans alba)
If you are creating an enchanted garden that instantly transports you to the floor of a magical forest, dwarf conifers are the plant for you. There are a huge number of varieties available and they can be trained to suit your garden. A stake will assist them to grow upright like a tree or allow them to spread across the landscape to resemble dense forest. Dwarf conifers are a favourite of bonsai enthusiasts and the effect is nothing short of impressive. I especially love topiary conifers shaped to resemble the whimsical landscapes featured in illustration from the books of Dr Suess
Tiny Traditional Flowers
Fairy gardens filled with tiny traditional flowers are a sensory delight. They will attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies which is great for the environment and educational for kids. Enhance the sensory experience of your fairy garden by including edible varieties such as Heartsease, Phlox for their sweet scent and Lamb’s Ear for their velvety, fuzzy texture.
Dwarf Fruit Tree
Dwarf fruit trees are simply regular fruit trees that are grafted onto smaller plant rootstock. They are perfectly scaled for fairy gardens, add colour, look gorgeous and the fruit is edible. What’s not to love?
Dwarf Lemon Tree
Dwarf Cherry Tree
Dwarf Tangerine Tree
Small Native Plants
Plants that are native to your region are likely to thrive, so you can’t go wrong by choosing an Australian native, especially if you like the idea of a low maintenance garden. Happy Wanderer grown on a trellis or fence will create a gorgeous colourful backdrop for your garden. Swan River Daisies have a longer flowering season if their flowers are picked – so you are almost obligated to make flower crowns and daisy chains!
Swan River Daisy
Standard Sized Flowers
Flowers don’t need to be miniature sized to fit in your fairy garden. Varieties such as Nigella, Japanese Windflower, Forget-me-not and Hollyhock are gorgeous additions and easy to find at your local garden centre.
Love In A Mist
Herb gardens are a valuable addition to your home and especially fun with kids. I use herbs daily for cooking, and love teaching my children traditional uses of herbs such as fresh peppermint tea for an upset tummy, sage for focus and memory boosting, and rosemary for runny noses.
Tip: Loop and tie sprigs of rosemary to make pretty wreaths for the doors of your fairy houses
Succulents are one of my favourite plant varieties. They come in every colour and shape imaginable, they are super easy to care for and their quirkiness is the perfect fit for any enchanted garden style.
Jelly Bean Plant
Kids Know Best
If you are creating a garden with a child, you will have loads more fun if you take them with you! (seriously, got a neice, nephew, friends kids, take them too!) Children love garden centres. Prior to arrival, let them know that you are specifically looking for plants that the fairies will love. Children are very good at this. Encourage them to feel the texture of the leaves, smell the leaves and blossoms, look at the shape and patterns of the leaves. Encourage them to talk about the needs of each plant by asking the staff or reading the pot tags. Find out if it will grow well in your creative space, if they have special care requirements and how big they will be when they grow to full size.
Children are especially good at figuring out which plants the faires will love most.
A fairy garden is not a fairy garden by virtue of being small! The fairies only reside in your garden if you acknowledge and welcome their presence.
Real or Artificial Plants?
Real plants are lovely but may not be the best option for your garden. Allergies, maintenance, environment, preference and other factors might make artificial plants the best choice.
A mix of real and artificial plants can also work well, especially if you want to mix plants with different care requirements such as light, water or soil.
Artificial plants are readily available in almost every variety you can imagine, although there is a significant different when it comes to quality.
Low Quality Artificial Plants
PRO's - Low cost, easy to find in $2 shops & supermarkets
CON's - Cheap materials, poor detail & design, sunlight will cause damage & fading
High Quality Artificial Plants
PRO's - Realistic design & detail, made from polyblend UV stabilized material
CON's - More expensive, sold by specialty stores
If high quality, artificial plants are right for you, check out our range of premium ferns and succulents.
Fairy Garden Moss
Moss gives any garden a sense of age and weight. Growing it is as simple as providing the right conditions and having patience while it gets established.
Just like ferns, mosses grow from spores. When a moss spore germinates, it develops threadlike branches called protonema, rather than true roots. The protonema push into the ground (or in some cases, attach to a surface) and then eventually develop the tiny flat leaves. Thousands of these plants will bunch together to make a single patch of moss. The protonema serve primarily to anchor the moss to the growing surface. Mosses obtain all their nutrients from the air rather than the soil, which is why it is able to grow on rocks.
Mosses will grow naturally in most areas of the world. The most likely places to find moss are lightly shaded or where there are periods of sun morning or afternoon, although some species of moss grow really well in deeply shaded areas. Mosses are most successful in moist soil, however, well established mosses may survive periods of drought and will quickly regenerate once water becomes available again. Overall, they can withstand highs and lows in temperature, they grow slowly and will live for a very long time.
Live moss is a beautiful addition to your fairy garden. The easiest way to get a patch of moss started is to take a piece from somewhere else and move it. If you want to grow moss on soil, you need to find moss that is growing on soil. If you want to grow moss on rocks, you need to find moss growing on rocks. Often, nurseries will have it growing on the tables in the shade and will appreciate it being removed! Other places you might find moss include roadsides, bushland and in hidden corners of your own backyard. Use an old table knife to lift the moss (not a sharp one!) from between pavers or from the cracks in concrete. Paint scrapers will lift moss off surfaces in nice big slabs. Be as gentle as possible and, if you can, try to remove a layer of the soil with it to reduce the amount of damage to the protonema.
Preserved moss is commonly used in fairy gardens due to its everlasting quality, range of colours, availability and whimsical appearance. It doesn’t require water or soil, yet it can turn a dull space into a vibrant, lush oasis!
Preserved moss is real, harvested moss. It undergoes a special preservation process that retains its texture, quality and colour. Our moss is ethically and sustainably sourced from moss farms.
It is maintenence-free, requiring no water or soil and perfect for enhancing the landscape of fairy gardens, terrariums and interior green projects.
You’ll love our beautifully boxed, bespoke collection of premium mosses.
Learning Centre Resources
I’m Kim, creative director of Fairy Gardening Australia. I sailed away for a year and a day, tamed a jabberwock and lived in a shoe. I make fairy gardens too. Follow me!
Hi! I’m Kim, creative director of Fairy Gardening Australia. I sailed away for a year and a day, tamed a jabberwock and lived in a shoe. I make fairy gardens too. Follow me!