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What do I Need to Make a Dish Garden?
Dish Garden Plant List
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I Love Dish Gardens
I love dish gardens not only for their attractiveness but for their utter defiance of the rules of gardening. A true dish garden has no drainage, is packed with plants growing on top of each other in plastic cups even, and tends to live on and on in air conditioning and indoor lighting. Some plants found growing in dish gardens are in reality large shrubs and trees.
I once aspired to present the florist industry with a more scientifically correct dish garden- horticulturally sound and engineered to grow in with proper care, but my first product met with ridicule.
"Too sparse!" the buyers exclaimed.
"We want knick-knacks and more plants in ours!"
There was no arguing with them when it came to making a sale so I learned to make dish gardens which could live up to florist standards and my own.
Dish gardens are categorically called foliage gardens, European gardens, foliage with fresh flowers, and cactus gardens. A European garden includes an African violet and sometimes other rooted sprigs of seasonal blooming plants like azaleas and chrysanthemums.
A professionally delivered dish garden must be leakproof because someone is certain to place one atop their good furniture and expect nothing to happen. This just opens the door to litigation.
Therefore, containers can be ceramics without holes: troughs, bowls, jardinieres, coffee and soup mugs, and cute figurines.
In choosing ceramic containers, the latter are best sent for optimistic hospital occasions- New Baby and Get Well. Ceramics suggesting coffee and soup are coordinated for most government office and classroom schemes while traditional shapes bring desperately needed life to banking and insurance settings.
Brass containers (lined) go well with legal office decor.
Elsewise, for everyday dish gardening, baskets with plastic liners are popular. Deep plastic terra-cotta look saucers are used for woodland scene arrangements. Cactus dish gardens are usually planted in terra-cotta without holes, sometimes inside a plastic liner.
The soil mix is light, containing generous moisture regulators comprising almost half the composition. Since I can take only so much soil in a day's work, when I was a professional dish garden maker, I settled on peat moss alone for additional medium along with what came with the plants.
Peat moss holds nine times its weight in water and has to soak a long time to become saturated to a workable consistency. This I would describe as moldable mud.
As the planting in a dish garden is shallow, using the forming capacity of the peat moss to hold an arrangement of plants in place is sufficient to fill any container type. Using peat is particularly useful when planting in saucer-like containers and the arrangement has to be mounded.
A mounded woodland scene dish garden in a saucer is one of the more challenging and fun plantings, particularly if the saucer is large.
Once I fashioned the empty tomb of Jesus in a 24" diameter saucer for an Episcopal priest and his wife, to be left on their doorstep at dawn on Easter Sunday. It was a European garden with Cryptanthus, white African violets, 'Godseffiana,' prayer plants, Exaltata fern, and Purple Passion.
Florists prefer a basically triangular shaped arrangement, if you are considering the dish garden production business. Start with a mound of saturated peat, and build the arrangement with the tallest plant in the center or back, stuffing the container with contrasting plants.
The majority of dish garden plants in Florida are grown in Apopka, the Indoor Foliage Capitol of the World. Dish garden plant materials are purchased in 3"-4" pots mostly.
Not every plant survives the original dish garden planting for lengths of time. Anything delicate, though beautiful at first, won't last, but there are always plenty more strong types in the container to live on.
The oldest dish garden plant I possess is an Agave verschaffeltii almost thirty years old.
When an elderly and dear teacher of mine died I inherited dish gardens I and other students had given her twenty years ago. As her sight failed, a cactus garden had perished unnoticed into a sort of petrified state, perhaps a decade earlier. But she enjoyed it nonetheless to the end of her days where, with a skillful hand, I was there to gently retrieve the still unsuitable container and more important knick-knacks.
Gallery of Professionally Made Dish Gardens