Creating a Dish Garden

Category Container
Succulent plant and low water plants can make an attractive indoor planter for those in cooler climates. This page is about creating a dish garden.


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August 22, 2005

I make and sell dish gardens. The first picture is an old pressed, clear glass bird cage feeder. In it I put little hens and chicks and and English daisy.

The second picture was made from a vintage Fire King cup and saucer. Hens and chicks, sedum/groundcover which will get yellow and red flowers have been planted.

I have lots more ideas, today I plan to make butter dish gardens from some old Pyrex butter dishes I have!

By April

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Those of us who garden in the cooler zones are denied the rewards and challenges of landscaping with desert succulents (at least most of the year). Fortunately, we can bring a mini version of those interesting desert plants indoors by creating a cactus dish garden. Cactus dish gardens are easy to care for and maintain, and they make inexpensive long-lasting gifts for office co-workers, neighbors or fellow plant enthusiasts. Since cacti appreciate dry winter air, now is a great time to introduce them into your indoor landscape.


Materials You'll Need


Planting Instructions

  1. Place wire mesh or a piece of broken pottery over the drainage hole and fill the dish with potting soil. Leave a little room at the top of the dish so you can dress the garden with a top layer of pebbles or sand. Pre-arrange your design before inserting plants, keeping taller plants in back and trailing plants along the perimeter. These gardens are designed to be enjoyed from close-up, so examine your design from all angles.
  2. For each cactus, hollow out a depression in the soil large enough to cover the root ball. Insert plants (use a tool!) and lightly tamp down the soil around the roots. Tap the dish lightly on a hard surface to help the soil settle and get rid of air pockets.
  3. After planting the cactus, cover the surface soil with a thin layer of pebbles, colored sand or aquarium rocks to give it a finished look. Now you can get creative and add small shells, marbles, or figures (Santa Claus) to make a theme of your choosing. Wait a week before watering to give the roots a chance to adjust.

Caring for Dish Gardens

Many cacti will bloom indoors while they are young (3-4 years old), while others are more difficult to coax into flowering. Cacti usually bloom in the spring on new growth. The secret to getting them to flower lies in proper summer care and some calculated winter neglect.

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