How To Plant Succulents In Shallow Dishes or Bowl | 10 Things To Know

Planting succulents in shallow dishes allows you to grow your own plants in a low maintenance environment with few materials. With a variety of succulents and a shallow dish, you can create a beautiful indoor green landscape just right for a desk or a tabletop. Mentioned below is a step by step guide on How To Plant Succulents In Shallow Dishes or Bowl or dish garden.

How To Plant Succulents In Shallow Dishes or Bowl? (Step by Step)

1. Place fine gravel 1 to 1 1/2 inches in the bottom of a shallow dish.

2. On top of the gravel, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of coarsely ground charcoal to keep the soil fresh.

3. Take equal parts of peat moss, regular potting soil and coarse sand and combine them together and make a soil mixture. Then place it on top of the charcoal layer in the dish within 1/4 inch from the top.

4. Make a hole from a stick or from your finger and place the plant in the hole and pat gently spreading the roots around the hole.

5. Put soil in the dish until the plant roots are covered completely.

6. Lightly water the dish just enough to make the soil moist but not soggy. This is important since succulent roots can start to rot if the soil is saturated.

7. Decorate the surface with pebbles if required.

8. Place the dish under sunlight and water it when the soil feels completely dry. The amount of sunlight and shade required for the plant can depend on the type of succulent. Make sure to read instructions when buying the plant.

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How deep does the soil have to be for succulents?

Succulents have shallow roots and therefore do not require the soil to be very deep to grow in. About 4 inches deep soil or just enough soil to cover the succulent roots and the plant to spread out would be sufficient. Since Succulent roots tend to rot in soggy soil, a well draining soil should be used for planting them.

What suits best for the air and water exchange of the roots of the plant would be a combination of potting soil, peat moss and coarse sand. Potting soil increases evaporation, provides the dry environment needed and enhances drainage. Peat moss softens the soil and helps with drainage while helping to retain enough moisture and nutrients for the plant roots. Coarse sand helps to attain the best growing medium for succulent plants.

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Which succulents have shallow roots?

Succulents usually have a root system that spreads widely but not that deep. They have fibre like roots which makes it easier to absorb moisture from the surroundings. These roots penetrate only a short distance into the soil. But some species of succulents have taproot systems that have bigger and sturdier roots penetrating into the ground.

Types of Echeveria and Sempervivum and many other succulents have shallow roots and they don’t have much of tap roots so they can be planted in shallow dishes.

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Tips for Plant Succulents in Shallow Dishes

Container and drainage hole in Shallow Dishes

A shallow succulent container or planter which has a depth of about 4 inches is suitable to be used as a dish to plant the succulents but make sure that the dish has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. The reason for using a shallow container is that the soil surface dries out quicker in a shallow dish so the succulent plants grow healthy. It’s best for the dish to have at least one drainage hole so that any excess water will drip through the hole and not make the soil saturated.

While this is not mandatory and it is possible to plant succulents in pots without holes. The succulents would be extra susceptible to root rot in pots without drainage holes since the excess water will not have anywhere to go. Hence it’s important to not to overwater the plants and wait for the potting mix to completely dry before watering it.


Half a day to a full day of sunlight is needed by most varieties of succulents. It is recommended to give some shade to the plants in the afternoon in extremely hot areas. If enough sun light is not provided, succulents might stretch looking for more sunlight. Hence make sure to grow your plants under enough sunlight.

Potting soil

Good draining soil is a must for succulents. Cactus soil, coarse sand, gravel, peat moss, perlite or volcanic rock can be mixed with the potting soil for better drainage so that the plants don’t rot. Succulent soil has to be able to physically support the plants, hold nutrients and a bit of moisture and still drain any excess water. After planting the succulent, tiny pebbles or gravel can be put on top of the potting mix to decorate.

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Plant a succulents In Shallow Dishes

Make sure to gently remove the plant from the pot when planting it so that the soil level remains the same as it was in the pot. Since in general, the plants you buy have been protected from draining winds and harsh sunlight, it might take some time for the succulents to adapt to the new environment. Hence, gradually acclimate your plants by providing some shelter in the first week. Every two to three days add a few hours of more sunlight which will help the plants to have a healthy transition.


Only a small amount of fertilizer is needed by most succulents. Once a month, during the growing season, adding a well balanced fertilizer when watering should do the trick.


When watering the plants, make sure to provide enough water and then let the soil dry before watering again. Succulents do not like to sit in wet, soggy water. So overwatering should be avoided but when you water at first, water thoroughly but with time, the plants will need less water.

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FAQ ON Succulents In Shallow Dishes

Can succulents grow in shallow soil?

Since succulents have relatively shallow root systems, they do not require a lot of soil. In fact, a lot of succulents prefer shallow soil.

Which succulents prefer shade?

Though most succulent plants don’t require much water, there are few that don’t require much sunlight. It’s best to keep in mind that most succulents grow in very sunny and dry areas such as deserts. Whenever you buy a succulent plant, it’s recommended to read the instructions to see what the light requirements are.

Some plants that will likely do well under shade are,

  1. Sansavieria ( Snake Plant)
  2. Cacti (Depends on the specie)
  3. ZZ plant

Are there any health concerns regarding succulents?

The only kind of true warning about succulents is to keep them away from children and pets. Since some succulent leaves have very sharp, pointy edges, it’s advised to keep out of reach of children and pets to avoid potential injuries.

Why do succulents lose their leaves?

While this could be a sign of over watering, it could also be a sign of underwatering. If the leaves of your succulent plant turns brown or yellow and fall off, it could be due to over watering or under watering. The best way to know is to check the moisture of the soil. It is possible for the old succulent leaves to turn yellow and fall off with time but it is not that common. It’s best to check whether the soil is too wet or too dry.

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Which succulents can be planted together?

Most succulent species can be planted together without an issue and they can co exist well.

Which succulents flower?

Many types of succulents may produce blooms but it may not be on a regular basis. Here are few succulents that produces flowers.

· Euphorbias – Many types of this plant produces flowers. Eg – Poinsettia

· Cactus – Many types of cacti produce vibrant flowers.

· Christmas Cactus and Easter Cactus – Blooms around Christmas season and Easter season.

How to get rid of mealy bugs on my succulents?

Although it’s not exactly clear what causes mealy bugs to show up but over watering and over fertilizing can be common causes. These bugs mostly show up on indoor succulent plants but they can be found on outdoor plants as well. These pests move pretty fast and since they eat away the succulent plants as they move.

It’s important to get rid of them as quickly as possible so that they don’t hinder the growth of the plant. Here’s how. Though many pesticides will kill mealy bugs, 70% isopropyl alcohol could be your best option. While you can use q tips to dab the alcohol it would be easier and more effective to use a spray bottle.

All you have to do is spray the alcohol on wherever the pests are on the succulent. Make sure to check places in the succulent plants that are hard to see and spray the alcohol really well. Once you spray the alcohol, you’ll see tiny black or brownish bugs falling off of the plant. The best thing about using alcohol is that as opposed to pesticides. It’s completely safe and you get the job done all the same!

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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.