Dish gardens by nuhman10


									Dish gardens - moist, dry and wet

By Ralph E. Mitchell

While we have great opportunities for outdoor gardening everyday here in Southwest
Florida, indoor gardening should not be overlooked. Dish gardens come to mind that
make great focal points, add a bit of the outdoors, indoors and can even make great gifts
for the Holiday season. The best thing is that dish gardens look great, are inexpensive
and easy to make by both adults and youth, and are sustainable indoors for a long time.

The simplest form of a dish garden can be made from any open shallow dish of glass,
ceramic, or metal. Drainage is essential, so the first step is to make holes in the bottom of
the container. If this is not possible, you can still provide drainage by adding a layer of
small-diameter gravel and/or charcoal in the bottom of the dish. Cover this layer with a
piece of nylon stocking cut to fit the dish. This will provide a barrier between the soil
and the gravel and ensure good drainage. To this layer, add several inches of sterilized
potting medium. Choose small tropical foliage plants according to their light
requirements. Most of your plant choices will probably require a low-light environment
such as parlor palms, Chinese evergreens and snake plants. For a site that provides a bit
more light consider scheffleras, dracaenas, philodendrons and dieffenbachia. Choose
small plants (two to four inch pot size) so that they will have some time to grow and will
fit into the dish. Place the plants so that it can be properly viewed. For instance, if the
dish is to be placed to view from all sides, plant the tallest plants in the center. Dish
gardens that are viewed from one side are best planted so that the tallest plants are in the
back. When the dish garden is planted, water sparingly so as to just moisten the soil. Be
careful not to over-water your dish garden as root rotting will result.

For something different, make a desert dish garden. Just as popular as a tropical dish
garden, desert themes also offer a large number of long-lasting plant selections. Select a
dish and provide drainage just as mentioned above. Use a soil mix especially prepared
for succulents that has increased drainage. Desert plant selection may include small
plants such as aloes, agaves, euphorbias and echeverias. Arrange the plants in an
interesting landscape design and make a finishing thin covering of sand. Make sure to
include small rocks and pieces of wood to add interest. Water once and then not again
until the soil is dry. Over watering is particular harmful to desert plants. Also, most
desert plants will require as sunny an area as you can provide.

One additional dish garden suggestion involves making a miniature water garden. This
dish garden is actually almost a version of hydroponics where you first take a house plant
and wash the soil off the roots. Clean up the plant by removing any dead or damaged
roots. Using a dish with no drainage, wash and place a one-inch layer of aquarium stones
in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of charcoal and then a layer of course sand. Place
the plant in place and add gravel until the roots are covered. Add water that contains a
weak, quarter strength, liquid fertilizer solution. Add enough so that it fills to about one-
half of the gravel level and maintain this level. Change the fertilizer solution about every
six weeks.
As you can see, dish gardening is very versatile and open to many plant options. Once
you make one, many more are sure to follow! For information on all types of gardening
issues, please contact our Master Gardeners on the Plant Lifeline at 764-4340 from 1 p.m.
to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our office is located at 25550 Harborview
Road, Suite 3 in Port Charlotte. Our Plant Clinics are available across the county:
Demonstration Garden every Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m.
Englewood/Charlotte Public Library 9 a.m. to noon every Monday.
Mid County Regional Library first and third Thursday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m.
Monthly Plant Clinics are Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the following
locations: Cape Haze Publix first Saturday of the month;
Peachland Promenades Publix ‹ second Saturday of the month;
Home Depot Murdock and Home Depot Punta Gorda the third Saturday of the month
Ralph Mitchell is the county extension director/horticulture agent for the Charlotte
County Cooperative Extension Service. You may contact him
by e-mail You may also contact a volunteer
Master Gardener from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at
764-4340 or by e-mail


Ruppert, K. C. & Black, R. J. (2003) Plants and Youth: Creating Dish Gardens and
Windowsill Water Gardens. The University of Florida Extension Service/IFAS

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