Potting Up: Mini Cacti Dish Gardens

Summer is here and now is the perfect time to showcase your favorite cacti!

Dish gardens are a beautiful and stylish way to bring the outdoors in! This DIY is super simple and a great way to get creative and play with shape and color!

What You Will Need:

  • Assortment of mini cacti
  • A planter of your choice
  • Old paintbrush
  • Long tweezers or scissors
  • Cacti soil
  • Pumice
  • Gardening gloves
  • Paper towel cardboard roll
  • Decorative rocks, stones, or sea glass
  • Spoon
  • Small cup

Getting Started

First thing I do is prep my work station. I like to use a table cloth to prevent too much mess and make clean up much easier. In a planter, mix a 2:1 ratio of perlite to cacti soil. This ensures that the soil has plenty of aeration. Choose cacti of different colors and shape and play with placement before placing into your planter.

Working With Cacti

Not gonna lie, but working with cacti can be tricky. To prevent pricks hold cacti by the base, pick up with garden gloves, or with old card board rolls. It really helps in preventing any unwanted pricks.

Gently place and position your cacti within the planter. The cacti shouldn’t sit too high above or below the planter. Try to keep your cacti evenly placed within the planter and separated from each other. Over time the cacti will grow and you don’t want them to prick each other when they get larger.

Potting up

Once you have your plants positioned to your liking, you can fill in any gaps with more soil. Use a spoon, a cup, or empty nursery pot to fill in any void areas. Fill with soil around the cacti just so that the plants stay in an upright position. Try not to overfill the planter to the top.

Don’t worry if some soil or perlite end up on top of your cacti. You can clean up any excess dirt or rock with the paint brush and/or long tweezers. If you don’t have any long tweezers available, you may use scissors. Just be careful not to accidentally cut into your plants.

Time To Decorate

Once you have your planter and cacti cleaned up a bit with the paintbrush and tweezers, you can decorate your dish garden! I like to fill mine with decorative rock but I have also done this with sea glass and it looks beautiful. I recommend pre-washing any store bought stones, since many of them are coated with wax which may melt with excessive sun exposure.

Carefully fill with stones or sea glass up to the brim of the planter. You can use a spoon or small cup to help pour into tight spaces. Make sure your stones are evenly placed and no soil is visible beneath.

You can also decorate with small figurines and or crystals. Drift wood can also be used to decorate with and create shape in your planter.

Finishing Up & After Care

Dust off any excess dirt or rock with your paintbrush. Wipe down your planter with a paper towel if needed. Congratulations you’re done! These make great statement pieces for a dining table, coffee table, or an outdoor patio set. They’re also great as a gift idea!

Cacti are relatively easy to care for. I recommend not watering your cacti for at least a week after repotting. Cacti roots are sensitive and repotting may have damaged some of the roots. Immediately watering after potting may cause root rot so it’s best to wait before watering.

Cacti don’t require too much water. If you have a planter without a drainage hole, water only about a 1/2 cup to a full cup of water depending on the planter depth. If your planter does have a drainage hole, water thoroughly until water runs through the bottom. Be sure the soil dries out before watering again. Water once a week in the hot summer months. Withhold water for longer periods in the dormant season (fall- winter).

Place your cacti in a bright and sunny area. A south facing location where they may get 4-6 hours of direct sun is perfect.


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