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How To Make A Real Alpine Trough Garden

Let's Make a Mini Mountain Garden!

Would you like to grow tiny plants that look like they belong on a mountain? Making a cute little alpine trough garden is fun!

An alpine trough is a special container to grow tiny alpine plants. Alpine plants naturally grow high up on mountains. A trough garden recreates their natural rocky home.

With just a few supplies, you can make your own mini mountain habitat to grow delightful alpine plants!

What is an Alpine Trough?

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An alpine trough is a low, shallow container. It looks like a long planter box laid on its side. Alpine troughs are usually made of concrete, wood, or plastic. The trough holds special soil for tiny alpine plants.

A trough should be 4 to 12 inches deep and at least 12 to 24 inches long. Short troughs around 6 inches tall are good for beginners. Small troughs can sit on a patio table or bench. Bigger ones may need legs or a stand.

The trough mimics conditions on rocky mountainsides. It provides excellent drainage and gritty soil that alpines like. You can decorate your trough with tiny rocks, figurines, or structures!

Choose Alpine Plants

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What kinds of plants grow in alpine troughs? Alpine plants stay small and tidy. Many form low cushions or mats. Some creep between rocks or peek out through crevices. Common alpine plants include:

  • Sedums – cute succulents with colorful leaves
  • Sempervivums – chubby little “hen and chicks” plants
  • Dwarf conifers – mini evergreen trees and shrubs
  • Dwarf perennials – small versions of plants like thyme, phlox, saxifrage
  • Bulbs – tiny spring flowers like crocus, iris, muscari

Look for alpines labeled for trough or rock garden use. Avoid ones that will outgrow a small trough quickly.

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Make the Soil Mix

Alpine plants need fast drainage, gritty soil. Make a soil mix using equal parts:

  • Coarse sand – provides drainage
  • Crushed granite – adds minerals
  • Compost – supplies nutrients

You can also buy pre-mixed “alpine soil” or cactus/succulent mix. Just add some crushed granite or perlite. Mix it up in a large bucket or wheelbarrow.

Fill and Decorate the Trough

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Now you’re ready to put your trough garden together! Follow these steps:

  1. Cover the bottom of the trough with a 1-2 inch layer of crushed granite for drainage.
  2. Fill the trough about halfway with your gritty soil mix. Pack it down gently.
  3. Position decorative rocks and structures like mini boulders, gravel pathways, bridges, etc.
  4. Place your alpine plants in the trough. Gently firm the soil around them.
  5. Top off with more soil mix until about 1 inch below the trough rim.
  6. Dress it up! Add tiny decorative accents like pebbles, figurines, twigs.
  7. Water thoroughly until water drains from the bottom.

Your cute mini mountain garden is ready to enjoy! As plants grow, you can divide and reposition them to keep it looking great.

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Caring for Your Alpine Trough

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Alpine troughs require some simple care:

  • Water whenever the soil gets completely dry. Many alpines prefer less frequent, deep watering.
  • Use low-nutrient fertilizer once or twice during the growing season. Too much fertilizer can harm alpines.
  • Trim back plants like sedums and sempervivums that get too large.
  • Replant bare spots. Move or divide plants in early spring or fall.
  • Add new soil and refresh decorations periodically to keep it looking great!
  • Protect from extreme cold in winter if needed.
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Fun Ideas for Alpine Troughs!

Alpine troughs are fun for crafty gardeners! You can get creative with the design. Some ideas include:

  • Fairy garden – Add tiny fairy figurines, furniture, decor
  • Mountain village – Use mini buildings, fences, people
  • Railroad – Add model train tracks and miniatures
  • Zoo – Use tiny animal figurines among the plants

Let your imagination run wild! Building and decorating your own alpine trough garden is very rewarding. Constructing a mini world for cute little alpine plants to live in is super fun.

Enjoy bringing a tiny piece of the mountains right to your own backyard! Your handmade alpine trough will provide years of enjoyment.

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