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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Make a Succulent Dish Garden

Lynn Coulter
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Difficulty: Beginner


This caddy makes a great centerpiece when filled with succulents.

Trendy succulents are fun and easy to grow, which makes them perfect for dish gardens. Because they come from parts of the world with hot, arid climates, they can tolerate the dry air inside most homes, and they’re happy with little more than a spot by a sunny window.

Since these undemanding plants often have small root systems, you can pot them up in a shallow dish, saucer, or other container. They’re seldom bothered by pests or diseases, but be sure to give them well-drained soil, and water only when the soil feels dry, to prevent possible rot.

You can change up your succulent dish garden in many ways. Try growing the plants in a half of a clam shell or conch, and add a bit of driftwood or a piece of beach glass for whimsy. Containers like this easy-to-make concrete planter are perfect for setting off the sculptural forms of succulents.

To pick up subtle colors in their leaves, grow your succulents in a ceramic pot with a complementary glaze. They also look great in simple clay pots or garden urns. You can plant them in large containers, too, and some succulents, like jade plants, will grow as big as the container will allow. Read the tags on your plants to learn about its mature size.

potting soil


Optional: Drill

Watering Can



Cacti and Succulent Potting Mix

Small rocks or pea gravel

Flowerpot or terrarium dish

Optional: Shells (available at craft stores), stones and polished rocks and sheet moss.


  1. Since succulents dislike standing water, try to use a dish, saucer or other container with a drainage hole. If your pot doesn’t have one, drill one in it or put a layer of small rocks or pea gravel on the bottom. This will help drain water away from the roots.
  2. Fill your container with a potting soil made for cacti and succulents, or make your own by mixing 4 parts regular potting soil, 4 parts perlite, and one part coarse builder’s sand. Leave about an inch of room at the top for the small rocks in step 3.
  3. Plant the succulents using your fingers or a small trowel and gently firm the soil around them. Cover the soil with a layer of pea gravel or small river rocks. This helps keep moisture away from the base of the plants, which might cause them to rot. Water lightly, and keep your dish garden near a sunny window. A southern exposure is fine.
  4. Wait until the soil feels dry before you water again. If your dish garden is sitting in a saucer to catch any drainage, be sure to empty it. When your succulents are actively growing, feed them with a fertilizer made for cacti and succulents, following the product directions. If you use a potting soil that already has fertilizer in it, you won’t have to fertilize for about six months.
  5. Succulents need a rest period of about 2 or 3 months each winter, so when the growing season ends, move them to a spot that stays around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While they’re resting, water no more than once a month, and don’t fertilize until you move them back into a warm place and they’re actively growing again.

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