Miniature Gardening with Annuals
It wasn’t the fact that there were so many videos on the Internet showing how to plant a miniature garden or fairy garden using annuals in their demonstrations, it was the fact that hardly any one of those “experts” would warn you that using annuals in a miniature garden setting simply won’t last.
To bring home the point, I invested $30 in small annual starts and added them to this existing miniature garden to see just how fast they would grow in and how quickly I would be pulling out the annuals to save the trees and perennials from being over-run by them. It took 6 weeks. In the video below I tell you what the annual plants are and show you the replant.
If I left the annuals in for the summer, they would grow out of scale with my miniature setting AND they would block the light from getting to the wee Hinoki shrub and those perennial miniature daisies. There is also the risk of the annual’s roots crowding and possibly compromising the Hebefolia Hemlock.
You can see the Celosia (Cock’s Comb Plant) in the upper part of the photo. This was taken on June 9th.
Same plant. This was taken on July 24th.
I took on a part time job working with a full-sized garden designer this past spring (2019,) and here is something I thought you might enjoy. Christina, my garden designer friend, kept pointing out these smaller plants in the garden centers and nurseries that we frequented while buying plants for her client’s gardens. The plants she pointed out were annuals that were treated with plant growth regulators (PGRs) and always looked smaller than the other plants of the same kind on the shelf.
The growth regulators or growth retardants are used so the plants would stay small and compact – good for the seller, not us, the buyer. The treated plants pack on the shelf better, transport easier and look compact and proportional to the pot in the store so they look more appealing for the customer. For the buyer, we simply don’t get what we expect. As far as I know, PGRs are only used on annuals – in other words, plants that normally explode in growth within the season.
These tinier annuals that I show in the photos and the video were more-than-likely treated with too much growth regular which really stunted the growth of the annuals. Checkout the video for more insight. Leave any questions at the bottom of the page! ;o)
You can see the Celosias to the right of the wee fairy house. This was taken on June 9th.
Same plants. This was taken on July 24th.
IF YOU DO want to play with these plant growth regulators be aware that they are plant hormones (or a blend of?) that are categorized and regulated as pesticides so use caution. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for safety and use gloves, masks or whatever they recommend. Don’t use any PGRs on anything that you’ll eventually eat either, I’m not sure that is safe so do some research first.
ANOTHER WORK-AROUND WITH NO CHEMICALS – Try leaving the wee pot on the young annual and plant it, pot and all, in the miniature garden bed. As long as you keep that wee pot watered, it “should” grow small. Don’t feed it. If you see it faltering, you can always rescue it, un-plant it, uncork it from the pot and give it a bigger home as some annuals are tougher than others. This is borrowed from the bonsai hobby where the plants are kept small by keeping the roots of the trees confined in a shallow pot. This tricks the plant into thinking it doesn’t have a lot of room to grow so the plant will try to do its best to grow – and grow smaller and slower.
Photo taken June 9th. You can see what is “supposed” to happen – check out the miniature Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) planted in the lower left corner of the trug on this photo. Then compare it to the photo on the right.
A Miniature Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) that has been treated heavily with Plant Growth Regulators. Notice that the leaves are different too – they are slightly serrated and much darker.
Photo taken July 24th. You can see by the Juniper shrub that I planted in the back, right – it has even flushed out more in the few weeks that it’s been planted in that container!
This is what the Miniature Zinnia should look like – the above photo was taken August 6th. The open-ness of the growth is part of its charm but the treated one on the left could stand-in for a formal looking shrub in the miniature garden bed.