Tabletop Water Gardens: Green Up Your Home Year Round


If you’re someone who lives in an area with a winter climate, you’re probably used to the routine of watching your outdoor plants die off during the cold. After that, you have to replant them again in spring since many root systems die from the freezing temperature. For those who are looking for a better way, we have a solution for you. This little hack is quite easy and a rewarding way to maintain your green thumb during the winter. It’s a win-win situation for you and your plants.

The answer is simple – just make your own indoor table top water garden. With this, you can preserve your plants and display them all-year-round, not just in winter but even in other seasons too. Your indoor water garden is that versatile and convenient.

If you’re planning to make a table top water garden, these are the simple steps you can follow:

  • Choose your plants; the roots should still be attached to them. You can choose from three varieties: emergent plant, submerged plants, or floating plants (see the details below about the types of plants you may want to use).
  • Any waterproof container that can hold enough water for your plants
  • Decorative rocks and other accessories such as moss, wood, etc. (optional)
  • Charcoal bits
  • Potting Soil

With these combined, you can already have a garden inside your home that’s immune to the harsh weather conditions outside. 

What are the Steps in Making Your
Tabletop Water Garden?

Listed below are the detailed steps in making your own tabletop water garden that can last for a long time.

  1. Prepare your materials on a working surface. Arrange them accordingly to see if you didn’t miss anything from your checklist.
  2. Start by prepping the container. You can choose any types of container as long as it’s waterproof. Once done, wash or wipe it clean. Be thorough when you’re washing your container as you don’t want any traces of cleaners or soap to damage your plants. Also, when working on your container, think about how you’re going to design your water garden by visualizing where to place your plants and accessories. In this way, arranging everything later on will be faster and easier for you.
  3. Once your container is ready and clean, get your charcoal. The charcoal are needed as these will help detoxify the water and keep it clean. However, placing them is crucial as you’d have to only add a specific amount inside. The suggested volume would fill approximately 1/8th of the container. Form an even layer of these charcoal at the bottom of the container.
  4. After placing a bed of charcoal, cover them with a layer of aquarium gravel or small pebbles. Charcoal tends to float on water, so you’ll need the weight of the gravel or pebbles to keep them submerged at the bottom most part of the container. Here, if you’re using pebbles, you can also add a little bit of fun and charm to your table top water base by adding multiple-colored pebbles. This will look engaging, especially when you’re using a glass container. However, don’t be too flashy here as you’d want your plants to be the focal point of your table top garden.
  5. If you decided to place an emergent or submerged type of plant, adding soil on top of the pebbles or gravel layer will help these plants grow. However, if you don’t like the aesthetics that soil provides, you can skip this part. When you want to add colorful pebbles and make them an additional highlight to your table top garden, floating plants would be excellent for this instead.
  6. This is the part where you’re going to add your plants. Remember, the type of plant you’re using should be provided with everything it needs. If you’re using an emergent or submerged type of plant, carefully plant their roots onto the soil. Make sure that the roots are placed deeply and strongly so that they won’t get removed once you add in the water and so that they can grow more effectively. For the floating plants, you can simply let them float in your container once you add the water.
  7. After finishing your arrangement, slowly pour water that’s been distilled or purified. Do it slowly so as not to dislodge the pebbles or the plants. You can also use tap water that’s been filtered. Don’t fill the container to the brim.
  8. Set your tabletop water garden in a place where it will receive bright light. Avoid placing where sunlight would directly hit it as this could overheat the water.
  9. If you intend to add small fish, do it after 24 hours after the plants have set.

The Best Type of Container

What kind of container would be the perfect type to use on a tabletop water garden? It really depends on where you would place your craft. The size is up to you. You can choose from any of the dishes you may own as long as it can hold a considerable amount of water. For the type of material, a clear glass container is ideal for an indoor water garden. This so that you can have a full view of what’s going on beneath the water of your mini ecosystem. You can use glass for an outdoor tabletop garden as well. However, the ideal material for outdoor use, should you decide to move it, would be a sturdier material such as pottery, concrete, or stone.

Tips in
Maintaining your Tabletop Water Garden

Maintaining a water garden is similar to maintaining an aquarium. However, you have to consider the well being of the plants living in your water garden. Here are some tips to remember in keeping your garden flourishing.

Aquatic plants tend to spread rapidly and grow in large sizes. You can choose a smaller species of plant or you can thin the plants as needed.

Keep the water level constant. Water will evaporate over time so you need to refill it every now and then.

If the water becomes cloudy, remove the fish if you have some in your water garden, then place them in another container of water. Make sure that the water in your spare container has been sitting for 24 hours. Pour out the murky water first. Remove the plants and gravel carefully, then set aside. Clean the container and rinse properly. Assemble the plants and gravel. Then let it sit for 24 hours before returning the fish.

Aged water helps the fish thrive in a conducive environment. Letting your garden water sit for 24 hours removes the chlorine and stabilizes the pH level of the water by dissolving excess gases.

Note:When disposing of excess water plants, avoid throwing them in your drains or native waterways. They tend to grow rapidly and may clog the pipes. Also, do not dispose of these plants into open bodies of water. Throw them in a compost bin or use them as mulch for your outdoor plants.

Types of aquatic plants?

Emergent plants – these usually root into the base of a body of water and their leaves or stalks will emerge on top of the water. Examples of these plants are Hygrophila difformis (Water wisteria) and Ceratopteris thalictroides (Water sprite). If you have a large container, you can choose these two types since they can grow 5-6 inches out of the water. Other types include Peace Lilies, Maidenhair fern, or Spider Plants. These plants are suitable for small containers.

Submerged plants – this is a type of aquatic plant that grows underwater. They stay rooted at the bottom similar to the emergent types. Suitable plants to consider for your water garden include Parrot Feather or Wild Celery. Other examples to consider are Java Moss, Amazon Sword, and Java Fern.

Floating plants – this type of plant floats on the water surface while its roots stay submerged below.  Examples of these are taro, water hyacinth, fairy moss, water lettuce, and duckweed.

Related Questions

What kind of fish is suitable to put in the tabletop water garden?

If you intend to put some fish, think of it the process as arranging an aquarium. Small kinds of fish are generally ideal for a tabletop water garden. Examples of fish include Common Molly, Little Tetras, White cloud mountain fish, zebra danios, and goldfish. Mosquito fish would also be suitable. Fish can help keep your plants healthy by eating insects or larvae. Their droppings would also fertilize your plants.

Remember
to avoid overcrowding your container with fish since they tend to breed quickly. Place two or three fish at the beginning. Also, if your container is as small as a single-serve cup, you may want to add the smallest type of fish available in your region.

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