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A miniature garden can be created in a tea cup. 

With the small space and minimal soil for plant roots to grow in, the plants need to be chosen carefully. 

Small leafed succulents are a great choice for a tea cup garden. 

Echeveria minima is a compact succulent with rosettes of grey-green leaves. 

Haworthias have fingers of fleshy, triangular shoots that are low-growing. They come in a wide range of colours. 

Lithops look like small stones and produce flowers in autumn. The flowers open in the afternoon and close at night. 

Sedums have dainty, heart-shaped green and white foliage with pink edges and masses of small pink and white flowers. They bloom in spring and summer.

Sempervivums are another rosette succulent with low clumps.

Herbs are also good plants for a tea cup garden. The herbs could include sage, mint, and parsely.


The plants can be grown with or without a drainage hole at the bottom of the tea cup.

Drilling a drainage hole:

Use eye protection and gloves because the cup can get hot when drilling a hole. Turn the cup upside down. Place masking tape on the bottom of the cup to prevent the drill’s masonry bit from slipping. Wet the base. Take your time. You might need a drop or two of water to help cool the surface. After drilling the hole, remove the masking tape, turn the cup over and place gauze at the bottom to prevent gravel and potting soil from going through the hole. If you don’t have gauze, place the cup on a saucer to hold any potting soil that might go through the hole.

With or without a drainage hole, continue as follows:

Fill the cup with gravel (very small stones or coarse sand) to about quarter full. The gravel will help the water drain through the roots and prevent rotting.

Scoop up the potting soil mixture, such as premium grade mix with wetting agent and slow-release fertiliser. Add the potting soil mixture to the tea cup to about one centimetre (a third of an inch) from the top of the cup. 

To add the plants, use a spoon or stick to move the potting soil mixture and to place the plant in the cup. Press the potting soil around the plant stems. 

When watering plants in a cup without a drainage hole, make sure the plants don’t get too wet because they will rot.

If the cup has a draining hole, the plant is less likely to become water-logged or rot. 

The tea cup garden plants will only need water once a week or so for succulents and more regularly for herbs. 

Original article by Kim Syrus with photographs by Ben Kelly and Kim Syrus. SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine, Summer 2021 and March 2022, Australia.

MARTINA NICOLLS – MartinaNicollsWebsite

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