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Dish Garden Definition

By Isabel Prontes ; Updated September 21, 2017
Dish gardens are smaller versions of the real thing.
plante déco image by Mélissa Bradette from Fotolia.com

Dish gardens are small scale landscapes. The miniature gardens are placed within shallow and open containers (such as "dishes"). Dish gardens are commonly situated within plastic or ceramic dishes. Other common containers for dish gardens include jars, old milk cartons, soup mugs, bowls, troughs, jardinieres, cans and logs that have been entirely hollowed out.


Dish gardens are popular because they are both compact and attractive, and also have sufficient drainage. Also, dish gardens are capable of thriving on indoor lighting and air conditioning.

Other Names

Dish gardens go by many names--cactus gardens, European gardens, foliage gardens and foliage with fresh flowers. European dish gardens often include rooted sprigs (either of chrysanthemums and azaleas) and African violets.


Make sure your dish garden is leak-proof to prevent damage to wood furniture, such as a wooden dresser. Permanent damage could occur due to the leakage.


For dish gardens, the soil blend should be very light. The dish gardens should always consist of ample moisture regulators that take up almost 50 percent of the full composition. Peat moss is frequently used in dish gardens.

Plant Selection

One concern with dish gardens is plants rapidly outgrowing their residences. Dish gardens usually have limited root space. Because of these factors, it is common to select very slow-growing plants to grow in dish gardens, which cuts down on having to replace them frequently. Some popular dish garden plants include Irish moss, Swedish ivy, partridge berries, African violets, creeping Charlies, pitcher plants, club moss, jade plants, cobra lilies, plush plants, sundew and asparagus ferns.