If a traditional mini garden isn’t exactly your style, go under the sea and create one in an aquarium instead!
I’ve been wanting to create a mini garden for years. They’re kind of like a dollhouse for grown-ups, with the cute little patio furniture and other fun embellishments. I’ve put it off, though, waiting for just the right idea to strike me since I wanted something unique. Poring over this year’s seed and plant catalogs a few months ago, I came across a collection of sedums that immediately made me say, “That looks like a coral reef!” – and the Aquarium Mini Garden idea was born.
First I had to collect the plants. I decided to use succulents and tillandsias (air plants) since they would only need a minimum of care. I ordered a few online, and bought a few more at my local nursery and some plant sales. I also collected the accessories I would need, raiding my own collection of shells and other odds and ends gathered on numerous trips to the beach (an advantage to living in Florida). I purchased a simple 10-gallon aquarium and some black aquarium rock, and it was time to assemble!
I started with a few inches of aquarium rock substrate. Although all the succulents I used would have been fine planted directly into this rock, I decided to create little groupings of them using small glass dishes filled with more rock. This will allow me to control their growth and ensure they receive enough water (even though they need very little). I placed the different plants into the tank, moving them around until I found an arrangement I liked, then heaped more black rock on top to hide the glass containers.
I also created a few fun plant-based decorations using tillandsias (learn more about these air plants here). I added some to a piece of barnacle I had purchased in a seaside shop. Using an idea I had seen in other places, I glued one to the bottom of a sea urchin shell, attaching some fishing line to the top so I could hang it like a jellyfish. I also used a moon snail shell in a similar way to create an arrangement that suggests a swimming nautilus. I suspended the two hanging decorations from the top of the tank from thin metal rods I cut to fit.
Now it was time to accessorize! I sprinkled some shells around the tank from my collections. I added a scuba diver and some fish I purchased in the toy aisle, and a fun little undersea garden gnome from the pet store. My undersea mini garden was complete (if somewhat hard to photograph through the glass).
This mini garden is easy to care for, as it needs only light watering and general misting a few times a week. I can change the plants out pretty easily as needed, since they are placed in the glass dishes, and succulents and tillandsias are among the simplest plants to grow. I’m very pleased with my aquarium mini garden, and hope it might inspire some of you to create your own!