Indoor Dish Garden: A Garden that Fits your Planting Style

Al Ardh Alkhadra > Blog > Gardening > Indoor Dish Garden: A Garden that Fits your Planting Style

indoor dish garden

Whether you like your small and lovely houseplants or tend to forget about them, you can have an indoor dish garden to match the level of your care.

An Indoor Dish Garden is a great way to display a number of small plants together.

You can arrange them like a miniature landscape.

Moreover, there are two main types of dish gardens you can make: dry and wet.

If you tend to forget to water your plants you can have a cactus dish garden which is a perfect way to show off a collection of prickly but pretty plants.

However, if you tend to go overboard with watering, a lush moss garden will thrive when you keep it constantly damp.

Keep on reading to learn more about indoor dish gardens in detail.

An Indoor Dish Garden

An indoor dish garden is an indoor container garden that tends to thrive in an area of your home where the plants will receive direct sunlight.

Moreover, gardening enthusiasts claim that this type of garden originated with Japanese botanists and floral professionals.

indoor dish garden 1

They used dish gardens and ornamental terrariums to show their work and attract customers.

Moreover, dish garden planter boxes feature similar colors, textures, and plants with different heights that you can see in wreaths and flower arrangements.

Plants you can Use in an Indoor Dish Garden

You can consider using the following types of plants in your indoor dish garden:

Bonsai Plants

A number of growers grow and cultivate bonsai trees to display in dish gardens for thousands of years.

Moreover, growers trim and manipulate these miniature plants to mimic the appearance of a fully mature tree of the same trees.

You can add other miniaturized plants and figurines to create a life-like scene.

Peace Lily

Spathiphyllum, commonly popular as peace lily is a flowering plant that closely relates to the petal color and long stamen of an orchid plant.

However, peace lilies are tall-stemmed, trumpet-shaped flowers that can add height and levels to your dish garden.


These are trailing plants that love to thrive in full sun or partial shade.

indoor dish garden 2

Moreover, philodendrons produce waxy, bright green foliage with bluish-gray striations that can help frame and highlight blooming plants or day flowers in your dish garden.


These fragile plants are vulnerable to extreme temperatures and inclement weather.

Thus, these plants are perfect candidates for indoor container gardening.

However, when you plant this centerpiece in a controlled ecosystem, you can enjoy its vibrant green and red foliage year-round.


A balanced, ornamental succulent dish garden can help to brighten up your windowsill with vibrant colors and uniquely shaped leaves.

Furthermore, you can use slow-growing, low-maintenance plants as ground cover or design a dish garden with only succulents.

These plants, however, will need well-draining soil, sand, or gravel that can help them to maintain a dry root system.

A succulent dish garden is an excellent introduction to gardening as these plants need less maintainance.

Making your own Garden

Follow the steps below to create your DIY miniature garden for indoor plants:

1# Select a Container with a Depth of at least Three Inches

You can have any material for your shallow dish as long as you can drill drainage holes in the dish.

Moreover, it should have a depth of at least three inches.

A three-inch depth will provide your dish garden plant with enough space or room to grow shallow roots and drain excess water.

Also, you can select a shallow flower pot, ceramic pot, or terra-cotta dish roughly the same size as a small birdbath to use as a dish garden container.

2# Fill the Container with Drainage Material and Potting Soil

The bottom layer of your indoor dish garden should use either of the following:

  • gravel
  • pebbles
  • charcoal

things to consider

These materials tend to provide enough space for the root system to spread while also allowing adequate airflow to deter root rot or fungal diseases.

Moreover, you can add a thin layer of perlite mix or top off the drainage material with a thick layer of potting soil.

3# Plant Three to Five plants that will grow at Different Heights

In order to create visual balance in your garden, make sure to plant the tallest plant at the rear of the dish garden.

While you should plant the smaller ones, more ornamental plants near the front.

This arrangement is just like how you would arrange flowers in bouquets. But in a dish garden, the planting strategy aims to maximize the accessibility to sunlight and increase space between plants.

Additionally, experts advise pruning any plants with overgrown root systems before your plant them.

This will help to maintain a good distance between plants.

Dry Cactus Dish Garden

Cacti tend to grow in rooms that are dry and warm like a desert.

Bright light is one of the crucial things for your cactus, so make sure that your cactus dish garden is near a sunny, south-facing window.

Moreover, make sure to rotate the dish a quarter turn every once in a while to make sure that your plants do not start growing lopsided toward the light.

Also, water your cacti every month or so, and only lightly.

However, if they start losing their green color and become soft to the touch, it’s a sign that you are overwatering them.

Be careful while touching them so that you do not prick yourself.

Learn more about How to Grow Cactus Plants? here.

Steps to make a Dry Cactus Dish Garden

Follow the steps below to make your dry cactus dish garden:

1# Add Gravel to the Dish

Select a deep plate or a shallow bowl that is about 3 inches deep.

A decorative saucer for a larger container will work well. Pour a 1-inch layer of pea gravel or small rocks into the bottom of the container.

Moreover, this will help with drainage so your cacti will not sit in too much moisture.

2# Plant Cacti

Then, add a thin layer of cactus and succulent potting mix over the pebbles.

This type of mix will be sandy and quick draining which is why these plants will prefer them.

However, before handling cacti, make sure to put on thick gardening gloves to keep your fingers safe from sharp spines.

succulent garden

Starting with the largest cactus as the focal point, carefully place plants on the top of the soil and pea gravel.

Then, arrange them asymmetrically for a more natural look.

make sure, however, that the bases of the cacti are set half-inch lower than the lip of the dish.

3# Fill in the Gaps

Fill in the dish with more cactus potting soil and make sure that the top of the soil is at the same level the cacti are in their original pots.

To finish off, add a thin layer of decorative pebbles or coarse sand over the potting soil.

This will help to keep your cacti from touching damp soil and will look more natural.

Furthermore, you can also add a couple of larger rocks to mimic a desert landscape.

Wet Moss Dish Garden

It is important to note that moss tends to grow in shady, moist conditions, like the space under a tree in the forest.

This means that your moss dish garden will work and thrive best in rooms with low light and plenty of humidity like your bathroom.

However, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight.

This is because too much sun can dry out and even burn the moss.

Moreover, mist the surface of the garden a couple of times a week so that the moss remains consistently moist.

Once a week or so, move your dish to a sink and give it a good watering.

However, if the dish does not have a drainage hole, tip it until the excess water drains out, as most may like things damp, but it does not like having swampy conditions.

Steps to make a Wet Moss Dish Garden

Follow the steps below to make s wet moss dish garden:

1# Pour in Pea Gravel and Potting Mix

In the first step, choose a shallow container of your choice, and over the bottom of the container with about half-inch of pea gravel.

Then, fill in the dish with all-purpose potting soil to about halfway.

2# Add Small Plants

The help of a few small, moisture-loving plants can help to enhance the forest floor feeling of the mossy dish garden.

For this, start with the largest plant first as the focal point, like indoor ferns. Maidenhair will work well.

Then arrange your other plants around it and fill it with more potting mix to just below the rim of the container.

moss garden

3# Arrange Moss

In case you have naturally growing moss in your yard, you can harvest a little for your indoor dish garden or you can buy different kinds of living miss.

Moreover, you can use pieces of moss to cover the remaining soil surfaces around the plants and tuck them around the edges.

Press everything down gently, as will help the plants, moss, and soil to settle in together.

4# Make a Few Finishing Touches

Lastly, you can add a piece of driftwood, a sparkly geode, or any interesting rock on the top of the moos if you want.

For this, use tweezers to remove any unwanted debris from the surface of the dish garden while completing it.

Then give it a good watering.

A light spray from your kitchen faucet is an easy way to do so, however, make sure to drain any standing water in the dish.

Final Thoughts

As the plants grow in either of the above indoor dish garden, do not be afraid to edit out plants that will get too big.

Replace them with something new instead. Beyond using moss and cacti for these mini landscapes, you can create your own succulent dish garden, spring bulb dish garden, or even a terrarium.

No matter how much light or humidity there is inside your house or the attention you can give to your plants, you can create a dish or tabletop garden that will flourish.

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