3 Ways to Use a Fall Dish Garden

How to create an easy fall dish garden filled with autumnal color and three inspirational ways to use it!

I know you may be thinking…dish garden? Dish garden? Aren’t those rather outdated and a touch boring?

Maybe so if you’re thinking about baskets filled with peace lilies and philodendron accented by river rock and placed in a cheap basket.

This fall dish garden, however, filled with dahlias, pansies, mums, and fern all nestled in this faux bois container is anything but boring!

Fall dish garden with pink dahlias, mums, pansies, and fern on fall tablescape

The beauty of dish gardens unlike fresh cut flowers is their long lasting appeal. A great way to bring nature inside, basically dish gardens are mini landscapes in a shallow container. Like creating a container garden for your porch or patio, it’s fun to select and pair different plants and flowers for your dish garden, mixing color, texture, and shape.

There are two ways to create your fall dish garden: leave the plants in their grow containers and place inside the larger dish or remove them and plant them in soil in the dish. Since this is a seasonal arrangement, I chose to leave the plants in their pots, but this autumnal arrangement will easily carry you from October to Thanksgiving!

A Step by Step Guide to Create Your Own Fall Dish Garden


Fall plants

Container or dish with sides

Clippers and knife

Wet floral foam

Plastic sheeting or tray

Zip lock bags

No. 1 Select plants and a container that feel fall appropriate.

For plants think mums, pansies, ferns, Russian sage, and ornamental cabbage or kale. You will want your plants to be small and grow slow. You can choose a monochromatic look or pick a color scheme. For a modern boho vibe I would add succulents.

For containers that feel autumnal choose wood or faux bois, dark willow, pottery, antique tureens, copper, or a vintage, rustic box.

How to create a fall dish garden

No. 2 Water plants and allow to drain.

Start with well moistened plants that way you won’t need to water the first day or so.

No. 3 Line container if not water tight.

The last think you want to do is water your fall dish garden and have it leak all over your beautiful tablescape or mantel. Take plastic sheeting like painter’s plastic and cut to size of container. You could also use a plastic tray if you can find a shape that would fit inside your chosen dish.

No. 4 Arrange plants inside container.

Play with the plant and flower pairings to vary color and texture and find a grouping that is visually appealing. I scattered the pansies throughout, putting their roots inside an open zip lock bag.

Put pansies in zip lock bag and tuck around dish garden

Use cut flowers in your dish garden by placing stems in wet floral foam

I knew I wanted to incorporate dahlias in my fall dish garden, but their size makes it impractical to “plant” them in the container, so I cut the stems and pushed them into wet floral foam. The dahlias will only last for a few days, but I can easily pull them out and replace with more dahlias or another flower when necessary.

No. 5 Tuck plastic inside container.

Once all your fall plants are nestled inside your dish, tuck the plastic sheeting back inside. Be careful not to cover the tops of the plants because you will need to water them and you don’t want to stop air flow to the soil.

If the tops of the grow pots or plastic is visible in your dish garden, consider using moss or bark to cover the top.

Tuck plastic in container around plants so it isn't visible

3 Inspirational Ideas to Use Your Fall Dish Garden

Now that you’ve created your fall dish garden filled with autumnal foliage and blooms, here are three ways to use it:

On a Coffee Table

A fall dish garden is perfect for coffee table styling. It adds a touch of nature and autumn foliage without being fussy. Choose a container that matches the shape and size of your coffee table, so if your table is rectangular opt for a rectangular dish, and so on for round or square.

Decorate coffee table for autumn with a fall dish garden

traditional fall mantel with fall dish garden, boxwood topiaries, majolica spaniels, magnolia, and gilt mirror.

On a Mantel

Save the garlands and wreaths for Christmas and instead opt for a live floral arrangement for your mantel decor this autumn. A skinny, elongated container bursting with mums, pansies, and fern elevates the focal point of your fireplace and gives it all the fall feels. Add in additional fall touches with mini pumpkins, tapered candles, and sprays of magnolia and cotton.

See more of this fall mantel and shop the look.

On a Tablescape

Live flowers are a traditional table decoration, but a fall dish garden will allow you to keep your autumn tablescape looking beautiful longer. Choose fall flowers that do not put off a strong aroma and keep the arrangement low so conversation flows across the table.

See more of this autumn tablescape and shop the look.

Fall dish garden with pink dahlias, mums, pansies, and fern on fall tablescape

Well lovely peonies, I hope I’ve changed your notion of dish gardens with this fall version filled with dahlias, pansies, mums, and fern. The faux bois container really gives it that rustic autumn vibe and the color combo just pops.

With three ways to use your fall dish garden and its’ low maintenance durability, autumn decorating just got a little easier.

Happy Fall Y’all!


  1. […] mantel started with two elements: these darling repro. majolica spaniel pitchers and the fall dish garden I planted in this faux bois container. From there I layered antique accents and floral elements for […]

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