Cactus Garden with Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

Cactus Garden with Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

Years ago, I thrifted a vintage salt and pepper shaker that looked like a cactus. I used it in my Thrift the Look: Boho post, (see it in the lower righthand corner below?). But, since then, I kept finding one ceramic cactus after another and ended up with enough to make a cactus garden!

Thrift shopping for Boho decor

First, there was this ceramic cactus, which I recognized as part of the set that you can buy at Ikea…

cactus figurine from ikea

And then I found this little cutie with a cactus flower on top!

ceramic cactus with flower on top

Since I kept snapping them up, I knew I needed to create a little dish garden with them. I’m always looking for new ways to decorate with artificial plants, so I couldn’t wait to get started.

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Base for a Cactus Garden

When all was said and done, I had accumulated a variety of ceramic cactus specimens, including a trio of vintage salt and pepper shakers.

examples of ceramic cactus

Aren’t they cute? A delightful blend of sizes and shades of green. Now I just needed something to “plant” them in.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to find the ideal item to use as a base for my cactus garden. I spotted these low basket-trays at Goodwill and thought they might be perfect!

holder or base for a pyrex pie plate

Woven with natural fibers, they also sported a very sturdy cork board base which made the baskets surprisingly heavy. Upon turning one over, I realized why they were so nice!

basket bowl to use for a dish garden

A holder for a Pyrex pie plate! No wonder they were so sturdy and well-made.

Once I got them home, though, I realized how deep it was in relation to each ceramic cactus.

making a dish garden with a basket

Hmm…I was going to have to build of a riser of some sort, so I put my thinking cap on.

Platform for Ceramic Cactus

So, now I was tasked with coming up with something to “raise” up the interior of my basket base. Whatever I used needed to be flat and even, but not too heavy.

And because we are cat people (and knew about these things), I had the sudden inspiration to use a cardboard refill for their turbo scratcher toy!

using a cardboard scratcher for a craft project

I know it sounds crazy, but it was nearly the right size…was perfectly flat…and obviously super lightweight.

upcycling a basket as the base for a cactus garden

Proof positive that I’ll use just about ANYTHING as a craft supply, eh?

It was, however, a touch too wide. Since it’s constructed of corrugated cardboard “ribbon”, though, it was easy to reduce the diameter of the cardboard disk.

unraveling a cardboard refill for the turbo scratcher

Finally, I peeled off enough cardboard “ribbon” so that the disk fit snugly inside the basket base.

basket base for a cactus garden

Next, I added a disk of smooth cardboard over the top which would become the final platform for my cactus garden! We had some cardboard boxes in our recycling bin, so I simply used one of those.

recycling a cardboard box from costco

I didn’t even need to glue it- it was *just* big enough to get tucked under the interior edges of the basket weaving. So, it was self-holding, if that makes sense!

“Planting” the Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

Now that the base for my dish garden was all set, I could secure the ceramic cactuses to it. But I didn’t want to use anything permanent (i.e., glue).

So…I grabbed a couple of options: Restickable adhesive dots and a roll of non-permanent mounting tape.

adhesive dots and double sided mounting tape

Then, I played around with each and decided that the adhesive dots were easier to use. So, I arranged my collection of ceramic cactus and used the adhesive dots to hold them firmly in place.

holding the vintage salt and pepper shakers in place with adhesive dots

The vintage salt and pepper shakers and the cactus flower figurine were pretty secure using just the dots. The tall fella was still a little wobbly, but remained stuck in place- that was all I could really ask for.

Lastly, I simply had to cover the cardboard base that they were stuck to! I still had some leftover aquarium gravel from this condiment caddy project, so that’s what I used.

covering a cactus garden with aquarium gravel

From there, I poured the gravel around each ceramic cactus. And just like that, I had a cactus garden that was SERIOUSLY cute, unique, and maintenance free!

cactus dish garden to use as boho decor

Cactus Garden with Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

I mean, COME ON. Isn’t that a delightful little cactus garden?? I’m such a fan of decorating with faux plants and this is a fun new way to do it.

making a cactus garden with ceramic cactus figurines

And such a great new way to repurpose the holder for a Pyrex pie plate. I have to admit- I absolutely LOVE pie but have zero desire to go through the trouble to bake one.

decorating idea for vintage salt and pepper shakers

Talk about a cobbled together thrifted project. From the vintage salt and pepper shakers, to the other ceramic cactuses, to the base for my dish garden. I love it when random treasures from the thrift stores come together in such a delightful way!

faux cactus in a dish garden

I just LOVE how it turned out and hope you find some inspiration from it, as well! Plus, I still have one basket leftover- either for another project, or perhaps to sell to someone with a Pyrex pie plate 229!

And, guess what- it’s Thrift Store Decor Day, which means my bloggy gal-pals have been upcycling, too! Check out their projects below.

repurposing ideas and projects

1. Outdoor Footstool MakeoverShop at Blu

2. Vintage Rattan Trunk Makeover (and Extra Storage!) – My Repurposed Life

3. Cactus Garden with Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers – Sadie Seasongoods

4. How to Bleach Wood Furniture – My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

5. DIY Indigo Handcrafted Vase – Domestically Speaking

6. Junky Botanical Planter from Thrift Store Finds – Organized Clutter

7. Coastal Cloche Idea – Petticoat Junktion

8. Classic Stool Makeover (Strip and Reupholster) – Our Southern Home

9. Easy DIY Luggage Rack Makeover for a Guest Bedroom – Reinvented Delaware

If you enjoyed this dish garden with faux cactus, then you may be interested in how I created these wooden cactus plants, as well!

Wooden cactus decor from post caps

Craft on!


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ceramic cactus in a pyrex pie plate for a dish garden

cactus centerpiece and dish garden in a pyrex pie plate

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Very cute cactus arrangement! Im so glad I read your post. I had never seen adhesive dots before. I have some small ceramic pieces I inherited from my mom but am reluctant to display because they tip over so easily. It’s so sad to keep them in a box. The dots will work perfect. Thank you!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you, Carol! Yes, they worked out wonderfully, and I link to the exact ones I bought in the post! I hope they work as well for you, too.

  2. Holy cow! You’ve done it again. Isn’t it funny how you suddenly see all of the cactuses (cacti?). When I had my store I used to say interest in one forgotten item reinvigorates the Juju in others and they suddenly all speak to us! Haha. What a great project!!

  3. Cindi Marshall says

    We just spent the winter in Arizona-and cacti were thriving, both real and man-made.
    I love your garden of cactus! Definitely a fun and easy project!

  4. This is just too cute. I seem to kill all the cactus that I buy and this is just the perfect solution.

  5. So cute

  6. This is adorable!! I love this so much, great repurpose!

  7. What a fun find!

  8. Ok, this is just stinking adorable! I have a thing for decorative salt and pepper shakers…I don’t like using them because I prefer glass ones I can see through and ones that feel better and are easier to hold, but I adore the porcelain figured ones for decorating. What a great find on those Pyrex pie plate baskets. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      You are so right- a lot of the ceramic ones are not very practical. In fact, that solo cactus salt shaker would be very non-ergonomic to shake! Much better off “planted” like this. 😉

  9. Oh my gosh, THAT is soooo darn cute!!! My cousin reminded me the other day about my vintage salt and pepper collection I inherited from my aunt 50 years ago. I’m going to dig some out for an upcoming project, and may see if I can sell some on Etsy…..

    pinned this adorable project


  10. That’s the cutest garden and just the kind I can take care of! Pinned 🙂

  11. WOW what an awesome idea and so cute.
    Visited you via A Morning Cup Of Joe Linky Party
    If interested, please hop over and come and share your posts with us at Senior Salon Pit Stop. See my entries: #33-34.. and navigate to the bottom of my page for SSPS linkup, we hope to virtually meet you there.

  12. Awesome idea! Now, you’re making me want to look for some type of thrift collection. You hit the jackpot with your cactus theme. Here via A Morning Cup of Joe.

  13. So cute and clever! Pinned.

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