From the Garden: Dress up the holidays with succulent plants

Posted

Many people are opting for more natural elements in their holiday displays and those that easily blend with their home décor. Popular succulent plants fit this trend whether decorating your home, setting a festive table, or giving as a gift. You and your guests will enjoy the easy care of succulents and the beauty they provide beyond the holidays.

Small-scale cacti and succulents provide a multitude of opportunities for use in holiday celebrations. Just select containers that complement, but don’t overpower their charm.

Use them to dress up the table by making them into place cards for your guests. Plant individual succulents in a small clay pot and set one by each place setting. Include the guest’s name or holiday wish on a plant tag set in the pot or written on the container. Send them home with your guests to enjoy for months to come.

Repurpose holiday mugs, champagne glasses, bottles and other items into succulent planters. Fill whatever container you choose with a well-drained cacti and succulent mix and display it on beverage or serving tables and trays. Just be careful not to overwater since the container you choose may lack drainage holes.

Empty wine bottles also make fun planters to display any time of the year. You will need to cut a large opening or several smaller holes into the side of the wine bottle or you may opt to buy one that is pre-cut. Fill the bottle with a cacti and succulent mix. The wine bottle planter can be displayed on its side but needs support to prevent it from rolling off the table. One simple method uses two corks and strong wire to create a cradle for your bottle garden. You can also plant just the bottom of the wine bottle and stand it up for a different look. Or consider drilling several holes in the side of the bottle. Plant small succulents in the holes. Secure the plants in place with a bit of sphagnum moss or glue if needed to hold the plants in place once the bottle is set upright.

Create a centerpiece for gatherings by planting them in a shallow container. Their unique shapes and colors blend nicely with any décor. Or display individual potted specimens in the container to enjoy throughout the evening. When the party is over, each guest can pick a plant to take home. You won’t need much space to enjoy the subtle colors and dramatic forms of these drought-tolerant plants. Skip the seasonal greenery and use succulents to dress up candle displays. Create a terrarium of succulents using any clear glass container with an open top or lid set ajar. Succulents do not thrive in the humid conditions of closed containers.

Take it one step further and create a succulent tree. Fill a cone-shaped wire frame with moist sphagnum moss. Use cuttings or small plants to cover the frame. You may need to expand the opening to fit the roots through the wires and into the moss. Include the name and care directions when sending plants home with guests. This makes it easier for the recipient to keep their gift thriving once it arrives home. Suggest they keep it near a sunny window where temperatures are a bit cooler and free of hot and cold air drafts.

Water succulents thoroughly and only when the soil is dry. Pour off any excess water that collects in the saucer. Avoid overwatering plants growing in containers that lack drainage holes. As the days lengthen and the light intensity increases, the plants will need more frequent watering. Fertilize once or twice during the time the plants are actively growing. Be sure to keep a few succulents for yourself. A succulent centerpiece is a great addition to any gathering at any time of the year.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released “Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, Second Edition” and “Small Space Gardening.” Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is www.MelindaMyers.com.