Indoor Container Design

The classic “dish garden”

If one has had a loss, you can be fairly assured of at least two things: the kindness and sympathy of family and friends and their generosity. They will be generous with both food and, at least in my case, with plants. I am grateful for everything.

What strikes me, every time I look at this little dish garden, is that it’s one of the better ones that I have seen. The plants are designed to grow in the same sort of light–this is quite often not the case when these little collections are put together.

I have seen them–particularly at the holidays–mixing things like little evergreens, ivies, cyclamen and even kalanchoe all together. It was very pretty, but clearly these plants have different watering and light requirements.

What was good about the evergreen/ivy/cyclamen type arrangement is that it does follow the ” thriller, filler, spiller” combination that we follow when putting together outdoor containers. My dish garden above does the same thing.

The palm and dieffenbachia are the “thrillers,” the peace lily is the “filler,” and the philodendron is the “spiller.”

Deconstructed dish garden

You may remember these plants from 18 months or so ago. A neighbor gave me her dish garden after it had really outgrown its “dish,” so to speak. So I individually re-potted all the plants. But her garden had all the good elements of a container planting. It’s “thrillers” are the 2 dracena and palm; its ” fillers” are the maranta (prayer plant), and the peace lily, and the “spiller” is also the philodendron.

So if you are planning to construct an indoor container or dish garden, remember these two things. If you are planting the plants in the same container, make sure that they all want the same conditions (it sounds silly to say, but I see the pros mess this up all the time!) And keep those outdoor container gardening principles in mind. You can’t go wrong with those.

2 thoughts on “Indoor Container Design

  1. tonytomeo February 24, 2021 / 12:13 pm

    Some of my better houseplants came from such dish gardens that were discarded by neighbors where I lived in town.

  2. gardendaze February 24, 2021 / 12:21 pm

    I am kind of pleased with this dieffenbachia–even though it does come with loss, of course. But in a sense, once I dismantle this garden, I can always have this plant sort of as a memory (not that I will need it, but still). It’s nicer to have the other plants to remember my neighbor by. At some point, his widow will also pass or move away and the plants will be all that remains of their memories.

    I wonder how many people have “memorial” plants?


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