Sunday, January 23, 2022

Create A Stunning & Low Maintenance Succulent Dish Garden

Photos by Maria Lamb | Another option for a succulent dish garden is a ”Fairy Garden” created by Dale DeFeo, adding a rocking chair and fire pit adds miniature realism to the collection of succulents.

How Does Your Succulent Garden Grow?  

Cacti and sedums are two plants that are ideal in creating attractive low maintenance succulent dish gardens. Both have water-storing leaves and roots, both are hardyhardly suffer from pest issues, and both thrive with minimal and easy care.  

Succulents are available in a wide range of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. For example, the Zebra plant is an eyecatching succulent and easy to grow. The Ox Tongue has long leaves with rough texture with interesting patterns while the Echeveria Lipstick has bright green leaves with vivid reddish pink edges.  

Linda Colombo of the Calusa Garden Club held a members’ workshop in September to prepare for the club’s November Plant Sale. Mary McIntosh, a member, donated succulents from her garden and members had fun creating dish gardens for the Plant Sale.  

For the workshop, Colombo prepared mix of four parts regular potting soil, perlite and onepart builder’s sand. You can also use basic cactus and succulent soil mix available at most garden centers.  

CGC members used containers that are at least 4-inches deep. The local thrift store was a good place to browse for shallow pots or trays. Select containers that will look good with your succulent selection. Clay and ceramic pots are popular due to their porous nature and can help in airflow. 

Optimally, the container should have drainage holes to prevent from overwatering. If you do not have a drainage hole, be sure to place a layer of gravel at the bottom of the container along with a large coffee filter and activated charcoal. Charcoal keeps the moist soil at the bottom from souring and killing the plant roots. For containers bottom holes, make sure there is a drainage dish to collect excess water.  

Have fun selecting different colorstextures and heights of plants with playful and colorful personalities. Select cascading plants for the side such as the Donkey’s tail with rows of fleshy tear-dropped shaped leaves. Lay the plants out first on top of the soil until you are ready to plant them. 

Once the plants are in the containerit’s time for the finishing touches. You might consider covering the soil with small pebbles, colored sand or seashells.  

Succulents need plenty of sunlight but too much can make the plants dry out, causing the leaves to wrinkle and shrivel. About a tablespoon of water is enough for most succulents, while larger plants may need up to ¼ cup of water. 

Succulents prefer bright indirect light or a spot near a sunny window indoors for at least 3-4 hours a day. Turn the container every so often so it will not lean. And it is perfectly okay to talk to your plants!  

Succulents grow slowly, so the dish garden will probably look the same for quite a while. If a plant gets too big, remove it and pot by itself and swap it with a smaller specimen. Or you can completely rearrange your succulent dish garden. 

Save the Date 

Kathy McNabb’s Blue Shell Succulent Dish Garden will be for Sale at CGC’s November Plant Sale.

CGC will hold a Plant and Thanksgiving Arrangement Sale for the public on Tuesday, November 24, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church parking lot from 9 AM to 3 PM. The use of masks and social distancing will be required. 

Beautiful plants for your garden or your lanai will be offered for sale along with Thanksgiving centerpieces and an assortment of creative succulent dish gardens as gifts or for your own home. 

Also available for purchase is the Calusa Garden Club Gardening Guide. Proceeds of the sale support CGC’s College Scholarships and Club’s community projects such as the Blue Star Memorial at Veteran’s Community Park and the Butterfly Garden at Calusa Park.  

The Calusa Garden Club is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and the environment. For more information, visit or the Club’s Facebook at Calusa Garden Club. 


2 responses to “Create A Stunning & Low Maintenance Succulent Dish Garden”

  1. Sara Wolf says:

    What a great article on succulent dish gardens! I am sure readers will appreciate the step-by-step directions on how to make a succulent dish garden. The photos really help in visualizing the decorative appeal of dish gardens for our homes and lanais.

  2. Susan LaGrotta says:

    Thank you Coastal Breeze and Maria Lamb. Really appreciate the monthly gardening columns that Maria Lamb is writing to create awareness of the Calusa Garden Club activities.

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