Image: Austin Gros Photography
Grab your succulents and cacti off your windowsills, bookcases and tabletops—there's a new purpose for them.
Although we'll never tire of a tablescape accented with a trail of luscious blooms, there's a new trend in centrepieces that's having us skipping the flower shop. Succulents and cacti, the low-maintenance plant beloved by frequent travellers and the neglectful, can add a look-at-me edge to a table setting and can be a more budget-friendly option. Whenever you're hosting a bash, just collect your fuss-free greens from around your pad and place them on the table. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, there are a few styling tips to know—more specifically, tips for creating a cactus or succulent-focused arrangement—if you're looking for a snap-ready scene.
Sara Fried of Fete Nashville, a luxury wedding and event-planning firm, relies on a range of accents in various colours and textures (from crystals to porcupine quills) to enhance the table setting she styles with succulent and cactus arrangements. “What once may have been a tad bohemian for a more polished event is now an absolute favourite for those willing to take a risk,” says Fried.
Here's what you need to know to get the look.
How do you build them?
The talents behind Honey + Gunn Succulents, a Nashville-based company offering modern succulent arrangements, advise going one of two ways when it comes to making your own arrangements. One: You can choose a traditional, cactus or succulent-favoured potting soil layered with drainage of pebble or rock; or Two: Opt for cuttings, which are succulents or cacti that have been cut to eliminate the root. Cuttings are the easier option and can still survive up to a few months, as long as they receive ample filtered light, and don't require potting soil. They're best used in packed, design-driven pieces that allow for angles and propping. If you get snip-happy and cut too many cuttings, don't toss them out! “Unlike fresh flowers that last mere days, succulent cuttings go on and on,” says Anne Gunnels of Honey + Gunn Succulents. So, use them to create a succulent garden using planted cuttings.
How do you accent them?
To accent her succulent arrangements, Gunnels sources natural stone, quills, agate, crystal and petrified wood primarily from Etsy and Amazon. “Play with the design using colour from stone, geode and crystal,” says Gunnels. “Use quills and angled wood for instant height.”
What are some winning arrangement combos?
“A simple barrel cactus and bright green haworthia set the stage in this bright white container,” says Gunnels. The black and white stripes of the porcupine quills mixed with the amethyst and purple agate always play well with green and white. For another winning look, mix tillandsia with purple agate and amethyst. Layer the bottom with pebbles for drainage, and top with simple white aquarium pebble.
What should you do about the rest of the table accessories?
“Mix it up!” says Fried. “Combine elegant glass with copper serving ware, farm table pottery and décor-packed succulents.” A mix of textures, sizes and colours (within a theme) can make the table look like a piece of art.
This is all great! But how do I not kill them?
If you take proper care of your arrangements, you'll be able to use them as a tablescape accent when entertaining and as a decorative object on shelves and tabletops for years. The trick to keeping them alive? Don't overwater them—they require much less than you think. Just one tablespoon of water per plant per month (if there's no drainage hole) is plenty.