When I got married last year, I asked my florist to design an arrangement that looked like someone had picked up a little piece of magic meadow and placed it in the center of the table, and I tried to describe it as if Martha Stewart had walked into a meadow, said it was just all wrong, and then fixed it. I also said that I loved the arrangements done by Big Red Sun in Austin, TX. Amazingly, I got what I wanted, and it was gorgeous. Still inspired by my florist, other succulent arrangements, and just the idea of plopping a meadow on a table, I decided to create an arrangement of my own.
Generally, floral arrangements for weddings are best left to the professionals because of time constraints, but this is one that can be prepped 1-2 months in advance and finished in an hour or two the day before it's needed. I have also selected plants that are easy to propagate, inexpensive, and easy to grow without much fuss. An extra bonus of this arrangement is that you can raffle or donate them, and the succulents are going to last a lot longer than the flowers. Or you could do what I would do and keep them all for yourself...
If you are getting married and want to do this, you will need someone to help you in the final 1-2 weeks prior to the wedding because, more than likely, you're going to be too busy to water, finalize, and transport. However, it should be quite simple to pass this along to someone since the project is generally very simple.
Step 1: Materials
- Cactus/Succulent Potting Soil
- Succulent Cuttings
- Decorative Stone Mulch
- Small Decorations such as tumbled glass or seashells (optional)
- 3 Vases
- Galvanized Steel Stock Pan (potentially 2)
- Viles or Test Tubes
- Miter Box and Saw
- Permanent Marker
- Aluminum Foil (not shown)
- Neem Oil (not shown)
I mixed my own cactus/succulent potting soil which I kinda eyeballed because of how much I use, but if you need a recipe, you can find one here.
For succulents, I used bulbine, gopher plant, crown of thorns, and roadkill cactus. I wouldn't recommend any succulents with spines, and if you absolutely have to use something with spines, make sure that they're the hard kind that don't come away from the plant such as the spines on a golden barrel cactus. The roadkill cactus is spineless. I picked up a 5 gallon container of bulbine last year for $16. I got a 1 gallon of the gopher plant for about $10. I got a 5 gallon container of the crown of thorns for $16 a couple months ago, and I got several 1 quart containers of the roadkill cactus for $1 each after the holidays last year.
I was able to purchase the stone mulch, decorations, and 2 vases from the Dollar store. The third glass is a Tom Collins glass I pulled from the cupboard, but I originally purchased it from a restaurant supply store for $1.
I picked up the galvanized steel stock pan at Home Depot, but you can find them generally at hardware supply stores. You may want a second pan to hold the first while it's sitting on the table.
For flowers, I used mums (4 stems), cock's comb (1 stem), dianthus (2 stems), and gerbera daisies (3 stems). I picked these up at the grocery store, but you can order them in advance through a florist or wholesaler who sells to the public for less. I picked these flowers for their coastal or meadow-esque feel, and I selected for a variety of shapes and textures. I particularly liked the cock's comb and dianthus, but availability and price might not make them right for you depending on where you are and the season. In the end, I used approximately $9.50 worth of flowers for this arrangement. Also when selecting flowers, consider allergies and sensitivities that your guests might have.
The viles I used are actually yeast viles that my husband uses for his home brew. They're unblown soda rounds (aka soda bottles before being blown and shaped) and are made of plastic. If you use glass, you won't need the miter box, saw, and permanent marker. I cut the viles because they're just not as pretty as glass. Still, we have a lot of them.
Step 2: Preparation
Drill several holes in the stock pan for drainage.
If necessary, cut plastic viles to the height of the stock pan.
Step 3: Potting Soil
Note: If you are planting in advance, you may also want to hold the aluminum foil in place with a rubber band to prevent it from blowing away.Fill stock pan with cactus/succulent potting mix.
Don't forget that when you arranging the vases, you want the arrangement to be attractive from every direction.
Step 4: Plants
Note: The crown of the bulbine must remain above the soil, and the lower leaves of the gopher plant must be removed.
Note: The bulbine might turn brown a few days after planting, but it should turn green again as roots begin to form. This is why you can do this 2-3 days or 2+ weeks before the event. The rest of the plants should not turn brown or lose their leaves.
Note: I would highly recommend having backup plants of each variety should one die and leave a gap in the arrangement.
If you are starting this in advance:
- Place the pan and the plants in a shady location outside so long as the temperatures do not drop below 50F.
- Saturate the soil with the misting setting on your spray nozzle daily for approximately a week. Lessen the watering schedule gradually until 5 days before the event.
- When the event is 5 days away, water one last time and spray neem oil on the plants according to the directions on the bottle. This is an organic pesticide, but it's still not good to ingest or inhale. However, you don't want bugs crawling across the table and onto people's plates. If you are worried about discoloration, test the spray on a small part of each type of plant. Neem oil may discolor some plants.
- Place the pan off the ground and allow the soil to dry.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
- Wipe down the pan and remove debris.
- Insert viles.
- Add decorative mulch.
- Add decorations (optional).
- Cut and arrange flowers.
- Add water to the containers.