What Should I do With a Dish Garden?

by | Oct 27, 2020 | 14 comments

Most likely you have received a gift dish garden at one time or another from a florist or garden center. I received this one after I lost my mom two months ago. Honestly, it suffered a little because I haven’t been as attentive to it (or anything) as I should have been the last couple of months. One plant has already expired and I didn’t want to lose anymore. What should you do with a gifted dish garden?

dish garden

A dish garden received as a gift

Plants Removed

In my opinion, the first thing to do is to remove the plants from the dish garden and separate them. Often plants in a dish garden aren’t compatible. They may need different light and water levels and the containers never have drainage holes. That being said, I have seen very old dish gardens still living together and growing like crazy. They acclimate to the care they are getting and if the owner waters them carefully, it can work. (Have you ever seen them? Usually, they are overgrown, have dead leaves, and are dusty and pretty awful. They always seem to be at doctor’s offices? Am I right?) I decided to remove the plants and put them in individual pots. I wish I had done it earlier, but life is what it is. Below, you can see the dead croton, some spathiphyllum leaves, and the decorative rocks I removed. I think the spathiphyllum lily was planted too deep by the florist and parts of it had rotted.

dish garden

Some of the plants didn’t make it.

Individual plants

The plants hadn’t rooted in yet so they were easy to remove. You can tell that most of the plants had previously been growing in 2′ pots except the spath and the syngonium which were in 4″ pots. There were seven plants originally in the dish garden including the dead croton. From left to right: spathiphyllum lily, parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), a prayer plant (Maranta) laying across the palm, a heartleaf philodendron in front, a Dracaena sanderiana, and a syngonium.

dish garden plants

The plants spread out after removing from the container.

Repotted individually

I separated them and potted them up individually. Now I can give each plant what it specifically needs including water and light levels.

dish garden plants

All the plants are planted up individually.

Since this gift was given to me for my mother’s funeral and her favorite color was orange, I planted two of the plants in orange planters. It is one of my favorite colors, as well. The ribbed orange planter was actually a planter I had bought for her years ago and it came back to me. She would love it!

syngonium

The syngonium in an orange pot to honor my mom

syngonium leaf

A syngonium leaf unfurling

palm and philodendron

I put a parlor palm and philodendron together in an owl planter

I have to put the palm up high because as you can see, if you look closely, Henry has nibbled on the leaves. Such a baaaddd kitty!l!

spathiphyllum

A spathiphyllum or peace lily

If you get a dish garden, it is my opinion that it is best to separate the plants and pot each one up individually. That way, each plant can receive the conditions that would be best for it.

Hope you have a great week, plant friends!

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14 Comments

  1. Cathy Streett

    So true…..and it adds to your collection! I took apart a beautiful African violet dish garden my niece received when my sister passed away. It had NO drainage and she didn’t know what to do with it. I separated the plants and a few are still doing okay. The rest were overwatered etc and did not survive. They were beautiful when presented and the giver thinks it’s better because they are giving live plants but the florists prepares them as throwaways. Frustrating for those of us who appreciate houseplants.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      I think florists do think they are throw-aways and that is too bad. I am so glad I came out of my funk in time to save most of the plants. Have a great day! Lisa

      Reply
    • Sheila

      Lisa this was so helpful to me . My husband and I have had a lot of loss during this pandemic time. Thank you for identifying the plants that are in my dish garden as well and I am at this moment dividing it up.

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        I’m so glad it was helpful and I am sorry for your losses.
        Lisa

        Reply
  2. Lisa

    I have a planter with all the same plants in it! I got it from a good friend’s funeral 3 years ago. I’ve had to prune the plants a few times but it’s definitely thriving. However, my fiancé and I want to repot the palm part of it to be by itself as a “tree planting” ceremony for our wedding as this friend was a good friend to us both. If it’s been in this container so long, do you think it is still ok to separate safely?

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Lisa, Congratulations! I think if it is well watered and you tease the roots apart carefully, it should be fine, especially at this time of year when it is actively growing.
      Best wishes and good luck!
      Lisa

      Reply
  3. Lavinia

    Thank you so much for the dish garden conversion advice. I replanted a huge dish garden that was mostly peace lillies when it grew out. They have their own huge pot now, and all the rest got transplanted into a new window box, except my palm. She has her own ornate pot now! Great info you shared! Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Thanks so much Lavinia!! Happy growing! Lisa

      Reply
  4. Ben

    I still have the dish garden that I received when my brother passed away in 2018, and it’s doing quite well… except for the ivy plants which have gone wild. It seems like it might finally be time to re-plant! Thanks for the advice 🙏

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Those dish gardens can get wild after a bit. Thanks for following along!
      Lisa

      Reply
  5. Cynthia Hilliard

    Thank you for your advice. I have a wonderful green thumb, and didn’t want a dish garden I received as a gift, to go to waste.Now I know what to do.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Cynthia,
      Thanks so much! I hope your dish garden continues to bring you joy.
      Lisa

      Reply
  6. Allie

    Hi Lisa, we lost our daughter 2 weeks ago & I have this dish garden I don’t know what to do with. Thank you so much for this post!!! You really helped me. I’m going to replant it in different pots & try them outside… Hope they work.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Allie,
      I am so sorry for your loss. That is heartbreaking. I am also sorry for the late response. I’ve been helping out with grandchildren. I’m glad my post helped and I hope you have those plants for many years.
      Again, I am sorry for your loss.
      Lisa

      Reply

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