Gift idea: Dish gardening enthusiast shares how she creates a dish garden

Teresita Palaganas, popularly called Nanay Tetchie, is a full-time housewife and part-time gardener who makes dish gardens, too. 

By Vina Medenilla


Teresita C. Palaganas, 56, is a former accountant who resigned to manage their family business in the motorcycle parts industry. After leaving her job and embarking on a new journey, she also found herself rekindling a long-lost interest in gardening. Palaganas is the woman behind the 307 Garden in Meycauayan, Bulacan. Read more about 307 garden here. 


The art of dish gardening 

Among the gardening techniques that you’ll see in Palaganas’ garden are dish gardening, an arrangement that groups well-suited plants in a small, open container, and kokedama, the Japanese art of cultivating plants in a moss ball.

A dish garden with mini hanging kokedama by Palaganas that won first prize in a mini dish garden competition by National Cactus and Succulent Organization of the Philippines, Inc. (NCSOPi) event last February 2020.


Palaganas has been making dish gardens for five years now. It is one of her favorite ways to grow plants indoors. For her, careful selection of plants is pivotal in this method. “The plants you will choose for any arrangement must like the same living conditions,” she adds. Plant height, foliage, and colors are some things that one must bear in mind when selecting plants for dish gardening. 


Through houseplants like dish gardens, anyone can bring nature indoors. They do not just promote a healthy indoor environment, but can also brighten up one’s home. This, aside from being low-maintenance, can also be a perfect gift where you can personally style and mimic landscapes for your loved ones this holiday season.

For Palaganas, pots are of utmost importance when creating a dish garden. She explains, “Most of my dish garden creations were potted on beautiful pots usually created by pottery artists Ugu Bigyan, Joey De Castro, and Wardeline Cosme.”

Dish gardens, as described by Palaganas, vary depending on the types of plants that you will use. They may be categorized as herbal dish garden, cactus and succulent dish garden, ornamental dish garden, and tropical dish garden. Regardless of these types, Palaganas adds that every set of plants in an arrangement must always contain a tall plant alongside other varieties to balance the look of your mini garden.

Palaganas’ one-year-old dish garden in a mug. In terms of design, she says, “A well-proportioned groupings should always contain one predominantly tall plant with several bushing ones of varying height and one or two trailer plants, which will gracefully overhang the sides of the dish.”


Creating a dish garden

When creating a dish garden, Palaganas always starts by making simple sketches of her target arrangement and design. A day before executing her dish garden, she waters the plants that she will be using. The materials Palaganas usually prepare include plants, containers, soil mix, peat moss, and some decorative pieces. She uses her sketch as a guide in building her dish garden. Once satisfied with the design, she waters the soil and mists the leaves after. 


Maintaining the dish garden doesn’t require any heavy work. One must only place the dish gardens in a space with enough sunlight and air and water them only if necessary. Making dish gardens can cost you from P100 to P3000 depending on the materials that you will use. Palaganas makes special dish gardens as a gift to family and friends. “I don’t sell dish gardens, but it’s a good gift idea for birthdays or Christmas.” She expounds, “Dish garden is a great Christmas gift as it is unique on its own and it will bring natural beauty to every home and office.”


Photos courtesy of Teresita Palaganas.

For more information, visit the 307 Garden

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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