Terms of the Trade: What is a Mini Bog?

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A mini bog is a gardening container designed to replicate consistently wet conditions. Plants native to tropical or swampy habitats might need a mini bog to thrive outside their natural climate—examples include orchids, flytraps, pitcher plants.

You can make a mini bog by placing a small planting container with drainage holes inside a larger tray or pot without them (a rigid pond liner makes a good receptacle, but you can use anything that holds water). Position the small container in the center, or wherever you'd like to be able to add water, then surround it with gravel or some other drainage material to a depth of about two inches. On top of that, lay your planting soil, sphagnum moss, compost, sand, and any decorative mulch material you like, then welcome your plants to their new home.

Water the mini bog by filling the smaller container completely, then letting the level go down over several days. Filtered or purified water are the best liquids for the health of your plants. If your bog is exposed to frequent rain and the water level is staying high all the time, drill some drainage holes on the outside container, about an inch from the top of the soil.

You can also create bog conditions by reversing the potting strategy—placing individual container plants with drainage together inside a water-holding receptacle. Either way, let the water level ebb and flow so the sub-surface dirt can get periodic exposure to oxygen.

Sunny, outdoor locations are ideal for mini bogs, but they can thrive inside, too, as long as they have five or six hours of direct light. If you live in a colder climate, bring your bog inside during colder months, or protect it with some greenhouse equipment and/or two to three inches of topsoil cover like pine needles or mulch.