How to Water a Dish Garden


A combination of small slow-growing plants (with similar growing needs) arranged attractively in a shallow dish or container creates a mini-garden, often referred to as a dish garden. These easy-to-care-for gardens range in size from a tiny saucer to a large shallow bowl with intricate designs. Many prefer to grow cactus gardens in terra cotta or natural stone, but dish gardens are not limited to cacti and succulents. Miniature tropical plants make delightful gardens as well. Although maintaining the correct level of moisture may pose a challenge, it should not prevent you from growing a dish garden.

Step 1

Review the growing needs of your specific plants. Cacti and succulents require little water, whereas tropical or semi-tropical plants may require moist soil. You can find this information on the plant identification tag when you purchase the seedlings.

Step 2

Apply water at room temperature. Cold water shocks young roots and may cause stress to plants. Allow tap water to sit for 24 hours to remove chlorine before using to water plants.

Step 3

Add water slowly. For small cacti gardens, 1 or 2 tsp. may be all that is needed. For tropical plants, add a small amount of water and test the soil with your fingers. Soil should be moist, but not soggy. As a general rule, add no more than one quarter to one third the volume of the container.

Step 4

Check the soil often and water if plants show signs of wilt.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always provide a layer of pebbles or gravel at the bottom of the dish garden to provide drainage. Check that water does not pool at the bottom of the dish garden, as soggy soil encourages root rot killing plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant identification tags


  • TAMU: Dish Gardens
  • University of New Hampshire Extension: Creating Dish Gardens
  • University of Georgia: Creating Your Dish Garden

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois Extension: Terraria and Dish Gardens
  • University of Kentucky: Making a Desert Dish Garden
Keywords: water dish garden, garden care, miniature garden

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.