If you are looking for a creative, relaxing and budget-friendly new hobby, might I suggest taking up succulent arrangements? They look oh-so-lovely and professional, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: They’re incredibly easy to make. Plus, you get to enjoy the beauty of your handiwork for as long as you want to keep up with the arrangement, or you can give them away for a truly unique handmade gift.
First, let’s talk supplies. You can use supplies or containers you have around the house for the most part – your investment will mainly be in the plant material. I use succulent cuttings ordered from Etsy. Succulent cuttings are just what it sounds like – cuttings taken from a larger, mature plant. They ship amazingly well – the grower I use is in California, and my orders arrive safe and sound to my home in New Hampshire no worse for the wear.
Once you place the cutting in soil, it will start to grow little roots from the stem, and in a few weeks, will be happily rooted in your pot.
Read, Set, Plant!
Ready to get started? Here’s the supply list:
Containers of your choosing. I suggest using pots up to 6″in diameter. A drainage hole will help ensure your plants are not over-watered, which is one of the few things that spells gloom and doom for succulents.
Bag of organic potting soil
Succulent Cuttings (25 is a good start if you are just experimenting. To crank out multiple arrangements, go with 50-100. I ordered 100 cuttings for the arrangements pictured at the top of the post. That filled 5 medium pots and 5 small pots with some extra leftover.)
In terms of timing, you’ll want to plan to do this project within a few days of your cuttings arriving in the mail. I’ll generally order my cuttings on a Monday or Tuesday with plans to complete the arrangements over the weekend. Cuttings are shipped via Priority Mail, so arrive to most US destinations within 3 business days.
Once your cuttings arrive and you’re ready to flex your floral arranging muscles, go ahead and open the box and lay out your cutting selections. The cuttings will be wrapped in paper bundles. Gently open each bundle and take out the plants. You should have a nice selection of larger rosettes, filler plants and trailing varieties.
Take your first container and fill it to the top with soil. The soil will compact a bit as you work, so more soil will likely be added later.
Now it’s time to get creative! There’s no science to putting your arrangement together. I typically start with a larger cutting first and place that where I want it to go, then start filling in around it. You’ll want to have taller pieces in the back, and smaller plants toward the front. A few trailing cuttings off to one side always look nice, just be sure to avoid the “dog ear” look. The “thriller, filler and spiller” advice in floral arranging certainly works here.
Feel free to really fill out your container – place the cuttings close together. You don’t want to have a lot of soil visible. Once you’re happy with your plant selections, take your moss and pop it in along the edges anywhere you can see soil, using the chopstick to help tuck it in. This helps compact the arrangement even more, and gives support to the plants. It also adds a professional touch to your finished piece.
Here’s a video of one arrangement in action. Apologies for the wisps of hair and that time I stood up to get more soil).
Caring for your finished arrangement
I usually let my arrangements sit for a day or two, then I start watering. In the beginning, keep the soil moist to ensure the plant is getting the moisture it needs from its newly formed roots. Plan to add a small amount of water to the container every 1-2 days. After about 2-3 weeks, you can start watering on a weekly basis. If you notice the leaves wrinkling, that’s a sign that you may need to water more often. As previously mentioned, err on the side of less water to start because it’s difficult to come back from rotting caused by overly-moist soil (containers with drainage holes are your succulent BFFs).
If placing your arrangement indoors, place it near the sunniest window you can. Succulents need as much light as they can get inside. If placing it outdoors (only if nighttime temperature are staying above 50 degrees), a spot that gets partial sun is perfect. Bring your arrangement inside or to a protected area if you are expecting a soaking rain.
Once your rooted plants start to grow, you may find you need to trim a plant here or there, or even remove one if it doesn’t thrive or is just taking up too much space. New growth will typically start from wherever you make a cut. If a plant doesn’t cut the mustard, usually its because another plant was blocking it, so it’s not noticeable when you take it out. You can always fill in with moss, replant a cutting you made, or add stones or fairy garden accessories (I’m partial to teeny bunnies and hedgehogs).
This would be a fun project to do with a few friends! Get some snacks and drinks and make it a DIY plant night!