How to Plant a Tabletop Succulent Dish Garden

When you plant succulents, you dress outdoor spaces with living sculptures. Succulents are the camels of the plant world, bearing thick, fleshy leaves that store water. These textural beauties hail from regions as diverse as tropical Mexico and cooler Europe.

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This tabletop succulent container is a great project for summer because succulents are so hardy and easy to grow. This dish garden can sit atop an outdoor ledge or patio table in the summer and can overwinter indoors as a houseplant. What better way to celebrate the beautiful colors and textures of plants that practically take care of themselves?

To begin this project, you'll first need to pick a planter. A wide but shallow dish, bowl, or plate works, but you'll want it to have a drainage hole. If you have a dish that you really want to use but that doesn't have a drainage hole, you'll need to (carefully!) tip out the excess water when the garden is watered or after it sits in the rain to drain excess moisture.

To begin, add a layer of pebbles—this is crucial to ensure that your succulents have proper drainage. You'll also want to use a soil mix that has aerating agents, such as sand or peat moss. Add a few inches of soil to your dish, but be sure to leave space at the top for plants.

It's a good idea to start by planting whichever succulent you want to be the focal point of your garden. We used echeveria, which often comes in different colors and patterns. Be careful when handling your succulents—because their leaves are so thick and filled with water, they can snap easily. But if a stem snaps off, no worries! Just poke it into the soil and it'll grow into a beautiful new succulent. (The same goes for the pups, or the small offsets that grow off the mother plant.)

When you pull the succulent plants out of their containers, you'll see the roots. Gently massage the roots to tell the plant that it's outside its pot and ready for a larger space. When adding succulents to your planter, don't plant them too deep—they'll like the extra drainage given when they're rooted slightly above the soil.

Once you've planted your succulent garden, the care is the easy part. Water your dish garden every five days if it's sitting outside in the hot sun. If your succulents are acting as houseplants, watering every two weeks will do the trick. The best way to tell if a succulent needs a drink is by sticking half of your finger into the soil. If the soil is dry as a bone, it's time to water. If the soil is moist at all, hold off on watering for now.

Once your succulents are planted, they make a beautiful presentation, looking almost like a mini landscape. Feel free to also add elements like stones or pebbles to make the garden more desert-like.

See more succulent container gardens.

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