Cactus Dish Garden

Follow these four easy steps to turn an old or thrift store dish into a miniature desert garden worth gushing over.

tabletop planter filled with mini cacti
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

Thanks to this cactus dish garden, it IS possible to add a desert landscape to your space. This miniature succulent garden can adorn a coffee table, act as a centerpiece on a dining table, or easily grace a windowsill. No matter where you decide to put it, this easy-to-make tabletop garden will last and last, as cacti are one of the most low-maintenance plants around! These miniature cactus plants may look adorable, but don't be fooled—even the tiniest pricks can hurt. Follow these simple steps to create a mini cactus garden of your own, all without pricking yourself.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Dish
  • 1 Pea gravel
  • 1 Cacti
  • 1 Cactus soil
  • 1 Decorative rocks or sand


  • 1 Scoop or large spoon
  • 1 Gloves


  1. Add Gravel

    adding pea gravel to planter dish

    Start your cactus planter out with a wide dish that is at least 3 inches deep. To ensure proper drainage of your garden, pour a 1-inch layer of pea gravel into the bottom of the dish. Doing so will help water drain faster out of the bottom of the pot so your plants aren't sitting in too much moisture.

  2. Plant Cacti

    adding cactuses to planter dish

    When handling cacti, we found that two pairs of gloves did the trick in preventing needles from piercing our fingers. Put on neoprene-coated work gloves, then put on thick leather work gloves over the neoprene ones. Carefully place cacti atop the pea gravel in whatever formation you'd like. Be sure that the bases of the cacti are ½ inch lower than the lip of the dish.

  3. Fill in Cactus Soil

    breaking up roots to get cactus on same level

    To ensure that all of your plants are at the same height level in the dish, break up roots as needed. Use a scoop or large spoon to fill in the dish with cactus soil.

    Editor's Tip: Don't mix cacti and succulents in your dish garden—although they're both desert plants, they have different water requirements.

  4. Top Off With Decorative Rocks

    adding decorative rock top layer to cactus garden

    For a final touch, add a top layer of decorative rocks or sand. Place your cactus garden in an area with full sun. Although cacti are rugged plants, they don't like temperature extremes. So keep them far from any heating or air conditioning units. Water your cactus garden sparingly, as cacti appreciate dry conditions.

Related Articles