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How to Dish Garden

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017

A dish garden is any container that is packed with a number of plants and usually lacks a drainage hole. The container can be anything from a coffee mug to an old bucket. The soil is very light, generally containing a large amount of peat to hold moisture. Dish gardening is a fun and creative way to garden indoors and allows you to grow several of your favorite plants in one place.

Choose the container for your dish garden. Just about anything can serve as the planter: old pitchers, dishes, and pottery.

Decide where you will be displaying your dish garden. You will need to determine this before buying your plants so that you have an idea of what kind of light the area gets during the day.

Shop for plants. Look for small plants, the type sold in 3- to 4-inch pots. Depending upon how you want to design your garden, you will need an assortment of heights. Make sure that the plants you choose all have similar light and moisture requirements.

Cut a piece of old nylon hosiery to the shape of the bottom of your container. Place a 1-inch layer of large gravel or small rocks in the bottom of your container. Cover this with the piece of hosiery. This will allow the water to drain and not take the soil with it.

Moisten the coco peat until it is saturated and then mix it with equal parts of coarse sand and sterilized potting mix. Mound this into the container until it is full.

Plant your plants with the taller ones in the back or the middle, then place the medium sized plants and then the small ones, which can go in the front and around the sides of the container. Stuff it as full as you can with plants.

Water the soil after planting and then don’t water again until the soil feels dry when you poke your finger into it. It is very easy to overwater a dish garden.


Things You Will Need

  • Container
  • Pebbles or rocks
  • Old nylon hosiery
  • Coarse sand
  • Sterile potting mix
  • Coco peat
  • Plants
  • Water


  • For taller plants, consider Dieffenbachia, dracaena or palms. Filler plants can include pothos, peperomia and English ivy.
  • Sphagnum peat moss can be substituted for the coco peat.

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.