Ask a Question forum: What are some really small house plants?

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Liara11
Dec 2, 2016 12:00 AM CST
I've seen lots of adorable Micro gardens, but no matter how much I search there don't seem to be plants small enough. Are these tiny plants just really young, and have to be eventually moved to other pots? Or can plants survive and pots that small? (I mean really small, I'm not sure of exact dimensions, around two inches maybe, you might have seen pictures of tiny tiny micro gardens before)
I own a graptopetalum paraguayens, it hasn't grown past about 4" in diameter, it'd be nice if I could use that kind of succulent or another succulent in a micro garden like this, but I'm worried that the baby plants would eventually die if they were in such a small container.
Hopefully that made sense, thank you in advance.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 2, 2016 2:04 AM CST
Welcome!

You are right - a lot of those plants are just babies that will outgrow their small space. Its hard to find a truly small plant that stays a small plant. Even your Grapto is going to grow out of its space.

I have orchids that are full grown at just 1 or 2 inches. Also miniature violets stay under 2 or 3 inches. Some cactus never grow beyond a couple inches.

I'm sure others can add to this list.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Dec 2, 2016 5:49 AM CST
HI & welcome! Check this discussion:
http://garden.org/thread/go/58...

You can also search the database here for plants suitable for mini gardening. Start here:
http://garden.org/plants/searc...
Scroll about halfway down to "uses" & click the box for "suitable for mini gardening"
Then click search at the bottom.
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Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
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Arico
Dec 2, 2016 6:07 AM CST
Lithops
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Dec 3, 2016 8:54 AM CST
Most succulents will stay very small. But most plants can be maintained in miniature by regular pruning of stems and sometimes roots. Plants that are never pruned and regularly moved to larger pots do tend to grow wild.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 3, 2016 10:35 AM CST
WillC said:Most succulents will stay very small.


Not true. They cover the whole range and there is no general rule like this.

Your Graptopetalum will be small for only as long as it takes to sprout new heads and spill over every available side of the container... not a great long-term choice for a space-constrained garden. They are amazingly good at overflowing a small container. You can start them from leaves and for a brief while (weeks) they will sprout a miniature plantlet, which you can enjoy in a very temporary way. But the future looks like this:

Thumb of 2016-12-03/Baja_Costero/7c16e7

Tiffany pointed out a helpful link. Lithops are a great choice size-wise but a really bad idea for a beginner plant unless you're willing to subject yourself to great discipline when you water (and grow any other plants in the container the same way, which can lead to their downfall).

A lot of small plants will branch profusely, thus end up not so small in the long run. As long as you are aware of this behavior, you can nip the excess growth in the bud. Crassula tetragona is often used in miniature gardens because of its miniature tree-like look... it will outgrow a small container and reach about 2 feet tall, but can be limited by size and serve for a while in a limited space situation. Mammillaria elongata is another choice which will look good for a year or two and then start to sprawl and take over. There are smaller Mammillarias but these cacti are demanding about light and not likely to do well indoors where it may be limited. The more light you can provide, the better for these plants in an indoor situation.

The main issue with the micro succulent gardens I have seen is that people set them up in terraria and the like where there are no drainage holes at the bottom to let the water out. It's possible for an expert to grow plants long term in this kind of set up but well beyond the reach of normal folks. The issue relates to rot where moisture does not have a chance to exit the container, and salt buildup from repeated watering over years of time. So look for a container with an exit hole if you want to keep a micro garden going for the long term.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 3, 2016 10:57 AM (+)]
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Dec 3, 2016 1:24 PM CST
I've found that the tiny pots retard plant growth and they stay smaller longer. Some of the ones I put pics of in the "smallest plants" discussion have been that way for 1-3 yrs, depending on which pot. "Bad dirt" helps too, I put yard dirt in the tiniest pots to keep them from being more vigorous, and a little more shade.

Naturally miniscule plants and plants with arrested growth are somewhat related in conversation, if one has an interest in manipulating plants that would otherwise get larger, and with the knowledge that one could end up with a much larger plant over time. Looking up pics of names suggested should help you realize the category under which each suggestion fits. If you see a really big example, you'll know a baby won't stay small for long if growing vigorously/normally.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Dec 3, 2016 1:26 PM CST
Not much info to go on to suggest specifically in the original post though. Without knowing how much light/which way available windows face, it's hard to know if you need plants for a lot less light, or have enough light for plants that need more.
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Name: Rick R.
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Leftwood
Dec 3, 2016 6:55 PM CST
For houseplants, check out Synningia pusilla, Selaginella, Hoya curtisii. Haworthia turgida grows in the wild at soil level, and yes, a huge number of succulents and cacti are very small, but not all.

Outside, there are many alpine plants that naturally stay 1-3 inches.
Silene acaulis
Thumb of 2016-12-04/Leftwood/cdc769

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