Dish Gardens- How to Create the Best DIY Dish Gardens


Dish gardens can be a unique creation and used for many purposes.The best dish garden will be the one that is a DIY project designed with you in mind. Find helpful information and tips on making a creative dish garden you can be proud of and enjoy for a long time.

"Dish Gardens"

A beautiful DIY dish garden

Dish gardening is a lot of fun and offers an opportunity to have indoor plants to enjoy throughout the year in the form of a potted garden. Dish gardens can be any combination of plants that are planted in a dish or open planter. They can be placed indoors or outdoors in sun or shade, depending on the types of plants that you choose. *Dish gardens are different from terrariums as they are not enclosed to keep in the high humidity. They are, however, planted and designed in much the same way.

Choose a theme or color scheme

Some of the most beautiful creations actually have a theme surrounding the dish garden. It can be in a formal style with elegance, or it can be a whimsical theme with other decorative items added into the design. This might consist of small items such as small birds, insects, or figurines. You may choose a Japanese style dish garden, a cactus garden, or succulent garden. You may choose only green plants or flowering plants.

Color is an important factor that can be used to your advantage. Your dish garden can reflect colors in your home or colors in the surroundings area where you plan to place it. Color can blend in or contrast with existing colors. You can incorporate color either in the container itself, in additional objects placed in the design, or in the flowers of plants you use. You can also add some artificial flowers if you have no other way of getting the colors you desire.

"Dish Garden Plants"

Dish garden of succulents in rock

Dish Garden Plants

Plant for your dish garden should be chosen with care. It is extremely important to choose plants that are small in height so that they do not overwhelm the design of your dish. In some cases, you can control the heights by clipping the plants back. You will be amazed at the variety of small growing plants that you have to choose from. Once you have the theme or style in mind, you will find that choosing the plants will be much easier.

Plant texture variation is also a factor to consider. If you have a wide enough selection, try to choose plants with smooth, varigated, striped, rippled, fringed, scalloped, or serrated leaves for an eye catching design.

It may be helpful to visit a plant nursery to see what your local nursery has available that is suited for dish gardens or terrariums. There are many plants that do better indoors, and others that have to be outside to grow. Some great plants that I personally like are, episcia, aluminum plants, polka dot plant, baby tears, peperomia, primrose, african violets, and other gesneriads. Any of these plants will work well indoors. You will have a wider variety of plants for outdoor dish gardens, even cactus and succulent choices. It is possible to choose a larger dish for your outdoor dish garden if needed.

"Dish Gardening"

Whimsical dish garden

Dish Garden Containers

You can use literally anything for your dish garden. Make sure that your dish is deep enough so that the plant roots have room to grow. Keep in mind that if it does have a drain hole in the bottom, you will need to have it placed on a dish to container any water drainage. Most dish gardens do not have holes, which makes it necessary to carefully control the amount of water.

Be creative and don’t limit yourself to only flat, ceramic or clay containers. If you see something that appeals to your individual style, then use that. Other materials can be used such as, rocks, small pieces of drift wood, shells, figurines, or bark. There are some colorful, unique types of containers and materials that can be used to make interesting and creative dish gardens.

"Potted Garden"

A well balanced design

The soil you choose for your dish will depend on the plants you choose. For instance, if you are making a cactus dish garden, then you should choose to plant in a sandy soil specially made for cactus. If you are using indoor plants such as gesneriads, you should choose a porous potting soil. Vermiculite can also be mixed in to help with moisture levels. I tend not to use perlite with dish gardens because I feel that the bright white color detracts from the appearance of the design.

Optionally, you can start with a small layer of pebbles to keep the water level from getting too high. If not, simply place your soil into the dish and give it a little water to soak into the soil before planting anything. Try to place your plants and decorative objects around in the dish to decide where they will be placed.

Try to have a focal point, in or near the center of the dish. Your tallest plant or object will most likely be the best choice for your central piece. Try to place other plants around this until it gives an eye pleasing design. Do not leave big gaps so that everything is perfectly spaced in the dish as that is not appealing in a design sense.

Now you are ready to plant all of your plants in their chosen position along with any other materials that you have chosen. After planting, lightly water the new additions and place them where they will get some light. If you have fluorescent lights or Gro-lights that will also work. To finish off your design, you can add some sphagnum moss over the surface for a natural look.

Good luck on your dish garden! Let me know how it turns out.

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