Dish gardens not only make ideal gifts, but they are also excellent projects for children, as well as adults. Gardeners can easily rearrange or repot a plant as it grows, so overcrowding isn’t an issue. This type of gardening also differs from traditional flower pot gardening because there’s generally not a hole at the bottom of a container for drainage. Almost any container that can hold water without leaking can be used in a dish garden.
Dish gardens, which are miniature landscapes, are collections of similar plants that grow in small containers next to one another. Dish gardens are also known as European gardens, cactus gardens or foliage gardens, notes Florida Plants. For example, a typical European garden would include plants such as an African violet and, perhaps, other rooted sprigs such as chrysanthemums or azaleas.
Some of the best containers for dish gardens include those made of glass, milk cartons, china and pottery. Wooden boxes, bowls and baskets work well. Antique items, such as pitcher sets and basins, are also suitable. Gravel is often used for internal drainage. The University of Georgia recommends covering gravel with nylon hosiery or some type of synthetic cloth for better drainage.
There are several types of dish gardens. Desert dish gardens may consist of cactus, aloe, jade and other desert plants. Desert plants need full to partial sun and sandy soil in their containers, notes the University of Georgia. A bog dish garden is composed of small ferns and mosses, which need full to partial sun. An average tropical dish card may include plants such as ferns, crotons and grape ivy. Supply shade or indirect light for tropical plants. Examples of other types are herb gardens, woodland plants and field and meadow dish gardens.
First choose a location and then the plants, as the right plants and location are prime considerations in creating a dish garden. Select small plants of various colors, sizes, forms and textures to give a more attractive appearance, notes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. An ideal plant grouping may include an upright plant, along with a trailing plant and others that offer colorful focal points.
Be sure to group plants together that have the same basic needs, warns the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For example, a dish garden of all tropical, moisture plants will work well, while one composed of a mixture of plants with different moisture requirements will entail giving different care for each plant. Also, ensure all containers are leakproof to prevent damaging furniture.