Your Guide to Choosing the Best Plants for Fairy Gardens
Fairy gardening is an awesome hobby! Sweet little fairies and houses look adorable nestled amongst flowers and greenery in your garden. But it’s hard to know how to begin choosing the best plants for fairy gardens.
After all, you don’t want plants that are too big, or you’ll hide your fairies and cute little accessories you’ve chosen.
You also don’t want to skimp on the foliage, or your fairy garden will look sparse. I personally think the more greenery, the better when it comes to fairy gardening! (I’ve mentioned before I don’t think of fairies as loving dirt on their feet, haven’t I?)
Once you’ve decided on where you want to put your garden and planned your initial fairy garden setup, it’s time to start thinking about plants. Choosing the right plants will help you create a fairy garden you love.
When the garden starts to grow, fairy gardening is a fun project to share with others—like a magical dollhouse display in your yard.
How to Select Plants for Your Fairy Garden
When it comes to setting up and creating a fairy garden, I think that the more natural, the better.
I’ve created my own fairy houses because I like the rustic “built by fairies” look that they invoke. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying your fairy houses, especially if you’re new to fairy gardening.
Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a few, easy-to-grow plants, especially for your initial set up of your fairy garden.
I would select around 3-5 plants per house. Start with ground cover, then add a flowering plant and tuck in some greenery. You can go with several of the same types of plants—like cacti, succulents, or mosses, but a combination is beautiful too.
I personally like to put taller plants around my fairy dwellings when possible, especially if the garden is in a container. I like the “cosy” feeling that having the houses nestled in the plants creates.
Then I add ground cover plants and shorter plants around the garden.
If you set up your fairy garden in a pot or container, you’ll want to add enough plants to fill the pot (and allow for growth) but not so many plants that your fairies are hidden or over-grown. Start with three plants in the pot and then fill in and build out from there. You can always tuck in another small plant or two down the road.
Don’t hesitate to use your existing garden space too! If you have a tree in your backyard, you can build your fairy village around the base and incorporate the tree in your design. A patch of wildflowers or a pretty herb garden can make a perfect landscape for your fairy houses—and best of all, there’s no need to do more work (or spend more money).
If you plan to move your container fairy garden inside during colder months, choose plants that weather the transition well. There are plenty of indoor-outdoor friendly options for your fairy garden.
Don’t have a green thumb? That’s okay!
These fairy garden plants I’ve rounded up are easy-to-grow options during the summer months in almost any region. If you’re really hesitant about planting a live-plant fairy garden, I’ve included some of the best faux plant options for fairy gardens too. There are surprisingly realistic faux flowers available these days, so don’t worry! You can create a charming landscape for your fairy friends no matter your level of gardening experience.
Lastly, most of the plants I’ve listed here are available both at nurseries and even online.
You’ll see some small plants marketed as exclusive “fairy garden” miniatures. While there are some dwarf plants available, most are regular plants that are small and slow-growing. Once you plant them in your fairy garden, they may take off and get large over time. I find these little “mini-plants” are often pricier and less healthy than regular garden plants. In most cases, you can buy the best fairy garden plants right out of the regular section of your garden center.
So, here are the best plants for fairy gardens. I have included pictures below each plant so you can SEE what they look like while you make your list of plants for your fairy garden.
Start with a few plants than expand your garden as you grow your fairy village.
Ground Cover Plants for Fairy Gardens
Ground cover is a must for all fairy gardens. Fairy houses look a little stark on their own in the dirt. Think of the ground cover as the “lawn” for your fairy homes. The ground cover adds charm. These plants will spread and grow over time.
1. Irish Moss
Irish moss is also known as Sagina Subulata. Although it’s native to Europe, it grows all over the US as well. This moss grows from seed, or you can purchase small starts. Irish Moss will create the perfect forest carpet for your fairy garden.
2. Scotch Moss
Perhaps the most charming part of Sagina Subulata Aurea, or Scotch Moss, is that it grows tiny white flowers that are absolutely perfect for fairy gardens. This moss looks exactly like a miniature grassy field. Purchase this moss in patches and keep it in shady areas.
3. Creeping Thyme
Creeping Thyme is a popular herb that makes an excellent ground cover. It’s one of my personal favorites for fairy garden plants! The Thyme sprouts cute little purple flowers that look really beautiful when they spread out over your garden. Thyme smells terrific, and butterflies love the plants too. Grow from seed or purchase small plants to start.
Some people use varieties of Moneywort in ponds and aquariums. This trailing plant creeps along the ground and spills over the edge of baskets and rocks. Golden Moneywort is an excellent option for fairy gardens that are in a raised bed or container. It’s easy to grow and care for. Purchase small pots, and it will quickly spread.
I would personally not put moneywort, also known as creeping Jenny, into a corner of a flower bed that you are converting into a fairy garden – as it IS a ferocious ground cover. I would keep moneywort for containers or areas that you WANT to be covered.
5. Miniature Ivy
Hedra Helix or Miniature Ivy is another great plant for fairy gardening. Miniature Ivy spreads and trails along the ground. It’s slower growing, so it’s great for small spaces. This plant does well in the sun and partial sun. Miniature ivy can also be grown in containers and terrariums indoors.
6. Australian Astroturf (Scleranthus)
Scleranthus is a thick carpet-like groundcover that looks lovely in fairy gardens. The beautiful lime color and moss-like texture are striking. Scleranthus gets small flowers (also perfect for your fairy garden) for a month in the early summer. The rest of the season it’s just a beautiful plant that looks great in pots as well as garden plots.
7. Mossy Sandwort
is another moss-like plant that makes an excellent groundcover option for your fairy gardens. This plant is similar to Scotch Moss, with tiny, white flowers. Mossy Sandwort does well in containers or on the ground and it thrives in full sun to partial shade.
8. Dusty Miller
Dusty Miller is a nice option for fairy gardens, with a different, magical look. The leaves are powdery white—almost sliver—and these plants have tiny clusters of yellow flowers. Dusty Miller is a fun groundcover that’s easy to grow and eye-catching.
9. Bolax Gummifera
Bolax is also known as a Cushion Plant or Balsam Bog. It features beautiful evergreen foliage that looks very moss-like. Bolax creeps along rocks and creates a “forest floor” look that is very lovely. You can easily nestle fairy feet down into the foliage to help them stand and stay in place.
10. Fairy Fern
One of my favorite plants for fairy gardening is the Fairy Fern. The Fairy Fern features adorable tiny fern leaves that are perfect for miniature gardens, small containers, and tiny scenes. The fairy fern does well in partial sun to sun.
Small Stature Plants To Use In Fairy Gardens
Once you’ve chosen groundcover for your fairy garden, it’s time to choose a few small plants to add to your village. I’ve chosen some easy-to-grow options that do well for every gardener, even beginners. You can find these small stature plants online or at your local greenhouse.
Petunias come in all sorts of varieties and they’re a great addition to your fairy garden. Petunias are easy to grow and simple. They aren’t the showiest or most fragrant flower, but they’re reliable and hearty—perfect for novice gardeners. All you need to do it remove the “deadheads,” and they’ll continue to bloom all season.
Marigolds are another classic flower that requires little maintenance or upkeep. A bonus of Marigolds is that they don’t attract deer and repel some plant-eating bugs, making them a hearty and protective addition to your fairy garden. Pollinators love marigolds, and they’re a bright, happy plant in any space.
Coleus is one of my favorite plants that you can grow from seed or seedling. The leaves of Coleus are beautiful in shades of yellow, red, and lime. You can find striped and variegated varieties that are just as pretty as any flower in your garden. Coleus is a great low plant, perfect for borders, pots, and any fairy garden.
4. Miniature Daisy
Daisies are another classic flower that everyone loves. But what’s better than Daisies for fairy gardening? Miniature Daisies, of course! These tiny versions of the traditional white and yellow plants are absolutely adorable for your fairy garden.
5. Floss Flower
Floss Flowers come in pinks, lavenders, and shades of blue. I love how these look like little fireworks, exploding out from the center. Floss Flowers bloom like crazy, giving you constant color in your garden. Butterflies and other pollinators really enjoy them, and they grow well in container gardens.
6. Lily of the Valley
Fairy garden flowers don’t get any sweeter than Lily of the Valley, with their fragrant white bells. These little flowers do great in the shade and they spread prolifically. Lily of the Valley will bloom for almost the full season and are extremely easy to grow.
Another shade-lover, Impatiens are a charming plant for any fairy garden. There are also “Sun Patiens” varieties if your fairy garden is in a sunny spot in your yard. Impatiens do well in the ground and containers. They require very little upkeep, although they are sensitive to cold (so they will wilt at the first sign of frost).
8. Johnny Jump Ups
Sweet Johnny Jump Ups look exactly like miniature Pansies. They have the cutest little “faces” and resemble characters from Alice in Wonderland. In bright purple and yellow, Johnny Jump Ups are a great choice for your fairy garden—adding just the right touch of magic and whimsey.
Alyssum is often known as “carpet of snow,” which is a perfect description of this cute, quickly spreading plant. Alyssum comes in pink or white and is very easy to grow in containers or garden borders. This plant prefers sunny locations and is a nice low-maintenance choice for your fairy garden.
Periwinkle is also known as Vinca and Myrtle. The leaves are a gorgeous dark green, and the flowers are a striking blue (hence, the Periwinkle moniker). This plant prefers shade and will hold up to deer, pests, and neglect. They prevent soil erosion because they grow so densely, so it’s one of the best plants for fairy gardens built on hills or edges of your yard.
Greenery and Succulents
If you’ve selected ground cover and some fun flowers for your fairy garden, the next step is to fill in the spaces with some greenery and succulents. You can plant succulents in pots to add fairy garden whimsy to a patio or porch. Many of these plants will transition indoors easily when the season is over.
I like succulents especially for tiny indoor fairy gardens, like this fairy garden in a teacup.
There’s a reason why Jade is a favorite succulent for many gardeners. While Jade is technically a houseplant, this hearty, low-maintenance succulent can also be placed outside during sunny times. In a succulent pot, a Jade plant will make a beautiful miniature “tree” for your fairy garden.
2. Hen & Chicks
Another favorite succulent is Hen and Chicks. This cute plant has a low profile. The plant spreads out from the “mother hen” with little baby plants, making it a good ground cover option that’s also suitable for containers. Hen and Chicks prefer sun and is an easy succulent for first-time growers, making it one of the best plants for fairy gardens.
3. Foxtail Ferns
Another great indoor-outdoor plant is the Foxtail Fern. I love that these plants look just like miniature cypress trees in your fairy garden. The Foxtail Fern grows well in containers and can stay out in the summer, and then venture indoors during the colder months.
Are you looking for a fun edible plant for your fairy garden? Try Dill! This herb has such a lovely, feathery leaf. It looks terrific as part of a fairy garden. It grows quite large but doesn’t mind being trimmed, and with regular trimming, your Dill plant will stay petite and fairy-sized (plus, you can use Dill in salads, soups, and other dishes)!
5. Globe Basil
Basil is another herb that works well in fairy gardens. Globe Basil has a topiary-like shape that you can trim and prune into a cute hedge for your fairies. You can use the leaves in Italian dishes and sprinkled on summer salads, making this a functional and beautiful green to add to your fairy garden.
There are seemingly endless varieties of Sedum available. This succulent-like stonecrop is a pretty, low-maintenance plant that works well in fairy gardens. The green leaves tinged with rosy pink look striking, and some Sedum also have blooms of tiny flowers.
7. Sensitive Plant
Another plant to add to your fairy garden magic is the Sensitive Plant or Mimosa Pudica. Believe it or not, these plants “close” and move when they’re touched. They bloom with adorable white and pink “poofball” flowers. Sensitive Plants need sun and are sensitive to cold, but they’re a fun addition to your fairy garden that kids will love.
Portulaca almost looks like fairy-sized roses, which is probably why they’re known as “Moss Rose.” These plants have beautiful greenery, even when they aren’t in bloom and are very easy to grow. This plant spreads and does well as a sunny border or container plant.
9. Sea Thrift
Sea Thrift looks like pretty tall grass. When in bloom, the pink flowers look like whimsical pom-poms, making Sea Thrift a cute option in a fairy garden. These are very tolerant plants that are resistant to deer and drought.
Boxwood is technically a hedge, but it can be grown and sculpted into a miniature bonsai tree. These “trees” are perfect for fairy gardens, even positioned in your garden within their pot. They grow well outdoors, but you should move them inside during cold weather. If you’ve ever been interested in bonsai gardening, this is a great starter plant.
Butterfly & Bird-Friendly Blooms
One fun aspect of fairy gardening is attracting “live” visitors to your garden too. We all know fairies love butterflies, bees, birds, and unusual insects. Bring the pollinators to your yard by adding butterfly and bird-friendly plants to your fairy garden.
1. Bee Balm
Bee Balm is such an unusual and beautiful plant. The showy bright blossoms are fragrant, and butterflies absolutely adore this herb. Available in shades of red and pink, Bee Balm is a little tall for some fairy gardens, BUT I think the houses look darling nestled beneath the pretty greenery.
Nasturtiums are edible flowers that come in many pretty, sunny colors like orange, red, and yellow. These are great for baskets and will climb around trees and fence posts. Nasturtium blooms are small enough to look appropriate amongst your fairies, and flying friends adore them.
Who doesn’t love Lavender? The fragrant plant is so pretty. Butterflies and other pollinators love Lavender. You can dry the flowers to use as potpourri too! Most Lavender has a low profile and grows anywhere from 10-24 inches, making it one of the best plants for fairy gardening.
4. California Poppies
If you love the look of traditional poppies, smaller California poppies are easy to grow in full sun. The plants are deer resistant but loved by pollinators. The petite, bright, delicate flowers are adorable in a fairy garden, and California Poppies stay shorter than traditional poppies at 8-12 inches.
If you’re looking for a very easy-to-grow wildflower, consider Cosmos. These flowers are a bit taller and bigger than most of the other flowers for fairy gardens that I’ve listed here, BUT they’re prolific growers. Cosmos are low-maintenance, and pollinators love them. Better still, they look whimsical as the backdrop of your fairy garden.
Do you want some showy, bright, beautiful blooms? Look no further than Dahlias. These flowers grow from bulbs and they are simply stunning. Shorter varietals are best for fairy gardens. The poof-ball flowers and a wide variety of colors make Dahlias an excellent choice for containers and any fairy garden plot.
7. Bachelor Buttons
Bachelor Buttons are a bee and butterfly attractor. These cute little round flowers come in shades of pink, blue, and purple. They grow around 12 inches with edible blooms that you can also use as natural dyes. Bachelor Buttons are adorable plants for your fairy garden.
8. Dwarf Godetia
Dwarf Godetia is a favorite of bees. This paper-like flower is really unique looking and comes in a variety of colors. Godetia is native to California and the West Coast, but can also grow in other areas, with the right conditions. This border plant is a fun, bee-friendly fairy garden option.
9. Baby’s Breath
Baby’s Breath is a classic flower and among the best plants for fairy gardens. After all, what could be better for a fairy garden than flowers that look like miniature fairy-sized carnations?! These little plants are so easy to grow, and butterflies adore them. Baby’s Breath flowers are fragrant, and the white adds sparkle to your garden.
Another plant with personality is the Snapdragon. These colorful plants feature rows of blooms that resemble tiny dragons’ heads. When you squeeze the corners of the Snapdragon mouth, it opens! These are fun plants for fairy gardens and grow well in containers. Bees and butterflies love these plants!
Indoor-Outdoor Container Plants
If you decide to put your fairy garden in a pot, you can bring it inside during the winter, giving you a fun way to enjoy your fairy garden all year round. Choose the best indoor-outdoor fairy garden plants, so you don’t need to replant every year.
1. Calla Lily
Calla lily bulbs are exotic looking plants that bloom in the middle of summer. You can bring Calla Lilies indoors to winter and enjoy the greenery. They are a striking flower for your fairy garden—something really unique and different.
The Tradescantia is a popular plant that features striped leaves in shades of dark green, white, and purple. Tradescantia is a quickly growing vine that climbs and does well in moist areas. It makes a stunning addition to container gardens, especially when you need a plant that “spills over” the side of the pot. This plant does well indoors and out.
3. String of Pearls
A favorite succulent is the String of Pearls. String of Pearls is, hands down, one of the best plants for fairy gardens in containers. It can live outside in the summer months and then transitions easily indoors by a sunny window. The cute strings of balls on this plant are a perfectly fairy-appropriate choice.
A classic indoor-outdoor plant, Begonias are cold-sensitive, so you’ll need to bring them in when the weather gets frosty. There are non-flowering varieties that can look beautiful in containers as well. Begonias are easy to care for, and they grow quickly.
Another classic flower, Geraniums, can be planted outdoors as an annual, but you can also bring them inside to winter. Geraniums are an ideal centerpiece for a fairy garden container, with bright, colorful blooms. You’ll need to remove “deadheads,” but other than that, Geraniums are relatively low maintenance.
6. Snake Plant
Snake Plants can venture outdoors as part of your container fairy garden. They make an unusual tall “jungle tree” in the middle of your fairy village. When you purchase, look for a small Snake Plant. These are slow growers, but they will eventually become tall (at which point, you can enjoy them as a regular indoor houseplant).
7. Burros Tail
Burros Tails are popular succulents that look fantastic in your fairy garden. These look cute, hanging over the side of a container and growing up amongst your fairy homes. Burros Tails do well indoors in bright light and can grow in a container outdoors in the summer.
8. Lipstick Plant
The Lipstick Plant has beautiful gloss-green leaves. The Lipstick Plant vine grows slowly and works well in containers, terrariums, and fairy gardens. You can put your Lipstick Plant outdoors in the summer and then bring it inside when the weather gets cold. You will love the unique blossoms on this plant!
9. Polka Dot Plant
Polka Dot Plants are sometimes called Nerve Plants, due to the network of nerve-like veins that run through each leaf. This plant has a totally unique look. It’s slow-growing and does well in containers indoors and out. This is often touted as one of the best plants for fairy gardens because it’s low-maintenance and hearty.
African Violets are charming and very fairy-like. These plants love bright, indirect sunlight. African Violets can grow indoors and can also go outdoors in the warmer months. I love the look of Violets in a fairy garden, with their soft, fuzzy leaves.
Choosing Faux-Plants for Fairy Gardens
Should you go faux? When choosing the best plants for your fairy garden, you may feel overwhelmed or worried about keeping your plants alive. First, don’t stress! Fairy gardening is a fun hobby that should be a chance to experiment and play with your plants. If you feel like live plants aren’t for you, there are plenty of pretty faux plants for fairy gardens. The realistic look may even surprise you—fake plants have come a long way over the years!
I’ve found ferns are some of the most realistic-looking faux plants out there. Tucked into your fairy garden, you can’t tell the difference at all. Look for small plastic ferns that are easy to keep clean and dust-free.
The next best faux plants for fairy gardens are succulents. I can’t believe how realistic some of the faux succulent options look nowadays. You can hardly tell that they aren’t real unless you’re looking very closely. Even better, you can group the faux succulents for a colorful fairy garden.
3. Mini Cacti
For a different look, consider faux cacti. Desert fairies exist (of course), and they look adorable nestled in amongst the Prickly Pear and Saguaro. Cacti are versatile with many different types of décor, and they can be a fun way to make your fairy garden unique.
4. Air Plants (Faux or Real)
If you’re looking for a very low-maintenance plant, consider an Air Plant. A fairy rock garden with some scattered Air Plants is such a cool look. Add driftwood or shells for a different take on fairy gardening. If keeping Air Plants alive seems challenging, there are also realistic faux Air Plant options.
5. String of Pearls
String of Pearls is a great container plant, as I mentioned above. Fortunately, you can buy realistic-looking faux String of Pearls plants to add visual interest to your fairy garden. These are so realistic that you could even combine them with some real potted plants.
6. Burros tail
Like the String of Pearls, Burros Tail is another realistic-looking faux plant. You could tuck sprigs of faux Burros Tail throughout your fairy garden display or you could use one large plant as the center of your container and build your fairy garden around it.
Live Boxwoods often look fake anyway. More than once, I’ve looked at topiary and wondered if it was real or just a really good faux Boxwood. If you’re seeking a great “tree” for your fairy garden (but don’t want to maintain a living plant), Boxwoods make a good choice.
Faux grasses have become incredibly realistic—almost indistinguishable from the real deal. Grasses are quite lovely as an option for your fairy garden. Similarly, sheet moss and fairy grass make a perfect ground cover for your fairy garden.
9. Silk flowers
Faux flowers have come a LONG way over the years. I think the key is to look for artificial flowers that mimic silk-like live plants. Poppies are a good example of flowers that look realistic in silk. Peonies also have a realistic look. Combine your silk flowers with plenty of greenery, so your fairy garden still has a joyful, blooming appearance.
10. Dried flowers
Another option for your fairy garden is to use dried flowers. These work particularly well in terrarium fairy displays. Dried mosses look pretty as bedding or a base for your garden. Scatter pretty dried blooms on the ground of your fairy home for a soft, distinctive look.
As you can see, there are so many choices when it comes to picking the best plants for your fairy garden.
Really, the sky’s the limit. Let your creativity run free and have fun experimenting with your fairy garden. If something doesn’t work or look right, you can always dig it up and try again. Fairy gardening is all about having a good time with the process as you create a tiny world of imagination!