How to make a Houseplant Dishgarden

I don’t have much money for XMas gifts. Thought I could make small dishgardens as presents. It would be a nice gift that would last, but not too expensive. Could you give some pointers on the best way to make a dishgarden?

Hi Tony,

I think making dish gardens as presents is a brilliant idea and really quite easy to do.


Red and green dish garden
Christmas Dish Garden

1. Select the right container: Use a shallow container about 4″-5″ deep. The width depends on the number of plants you want to use. If you’re on a budget, I’d use containers about 10″-12″ wide.

2. Drainage: If there are drip holes in the bottom of your container, place a large stone or piece of broken pottery over the hole to prevent the soil from washing away. Whoever receives your gift will need to place a drip saucer under it to protect tables and carpets.

3. If there are no drip holes in the bottom of your container,  you need to cover the bottom of the container with one to two inches layer of fine gravel or charcoal. Cover this layer with a piece of fine mesh to prevent the soil from mixing with this drainage layer.

4. Add a layer of good potting soil so that when you put in your small plants, the top of their soil is about 1/2 inch below the rim of the container.

5. Buy 3 or 4 slow growing houseplants in 2″ or 4″ containers for each dish garden you plan to make. Be sure all of the plants in a dish garden have the SAME lighting and watering needs. The plants should be of different heights and with different leaf styles (wide/narrow/green/ variegated).

6. Gently take the plants out of their pots leaving the soil and root ball intact. Arrange them in a pleasing manner. Fill in any spaces with more potting soil. Cover the entire surface with decorative Spanish Moss or mulch.

7. Add some Christmas decorations (picks or bows) and you have a great gift.

8. Be sure to include a small card with the name of each plant so the recipient knows how to care for the plants.