Think of an indoor dish garden as an opportunity to grow a group of plants in a single shallow container that’s ideal for a tabletop or windowsill. Starting with small houseplants and a container you have on hand makes this a budget-friendly project. Tuck a few prechilled—forced, sprouted, and ready-to-grow—spring-flowering bulbs into the mix for unexpected pops of color.
Full of life and young plants, this potted garden is designed to provide extended pleasure. After a couple of years, the colorful houseplants will be ready to grow on as singles in individual pots or grouped in a larger planter. Prechilled bulbs, widely available from mail-order nurseries and local garden centers in late winter and early spring, readily move outdoors and into the garden after their blooms fade. Toss a handful of fertilizer into their planting holes, and they’ll likely flower again the following spring.
We chose white-variegated plants for a unified grouping. All thrive in the medium light of an east- or west-facing window. When shopping for houseplants, read plant labels and group your selections according to the level of light where they will be placed. Plants receive low light when placed near a north or northeast window, high or bright light in a south or southwest window. Choose plants with similar needs for water, too. We chose Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’, silver pothos, Hedera helix ‘Mini Adam’, Pilea mollis ‘Moon Valley’, and Fittonia ‘Mini White’ as our houseplants. Muscari, Dutch iris. and crocus were our bulbs of choice.
We used a roomy metal tray as a decorative cachepot and fitted it with a pot liner that allows drainage. Letting plant roots stand in water encourages them to rot, so pour off any excess water that may collect in a cachepot.
Use an awl to poke a few small holes through the pot liner to promote drainage. Place liner in pot. Remove the houseplants and bulbs from their nursery pots.
Arrange the houseplants in the planter. Place the tallest at the back or off to one side. Place the shortest and trailing plants at the front of the container, with growing room in between them.
Tuck the bulbs among the plants. Place them wherever you feel they fit best. This completes an arrangement that highlights each plant.
Fill in between the plantings with potting mix. Cover bare soil with bits of bark and preserved moss. This adds texture and interest to the arrangement.
Protect the surface beneath your dish garden from potential moisture damage. You can do this by setting the container on a cork saucer. Place on any surface for a touch of nature indoors.
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