Faux Succulent Garden Centerpiece


So... I suck at centerpieces. I really do. I can never come up with anything to stick in the center of our table. If I'm hosting an event (Easter, family dinner, etc.) - I always manage to come up with something cute. But a nice everyday centerpiece? Not so much.

Not long ago my mother had bought us a cute table runner that featured birds on a wire (As more of our house is completed you'll start to see my soft spot for any bird-related decor...  how many paintings of birds do you need in your house? If you're me, at least two. And counting.) However our roommates took the runner as a sign that it was perfectly acceptable and appropriate to not only lay on the dining room table now, but to also roll around and make out with anything and everything on the table.

So when I saw faux succulents on the clearance rack during a recent craft store run, lightning struck.

I love me some succulents - but based on the aforementioned roommates, we can't have anything green or growing in our house. Well, technically, we can - we just wake up to multi-colored barf patches in the morning. So for the past few years I've learned to embrace fake. I'm not now, or have ever been, very fond of the faux. Especially handbags (and wall treatments). But I also go through Coach bags like tissue so I'm sure my perspective is skewed (The real thing is so affordable - why would anyone make a fake one to begin with?).

Now, I am learning to live with faux flowers. The cute, plastic potted plants Ikea is famous for started me on the trend. Since Cassie is an all-out plastic addict (sometimes you can hear her at night, in a dark place, chewing on the plastic ties from garbage bags...nom nom nom...crunch crunch crunch...), I was nervous that we might soon inherit a multi-colored-barf-with-plastic-surprise problem, but both the cats have completely ignored my little potted cuties.

So I felt pretty confident that I could successfully manage a faux succulent garden centerpiece for our now bare dining table (free of furry critters as well, now that the oh-so-seductive bird runner has been put away in a drawer) and picked up an armload of plastic succulents from the clearance bin.

But, I didn't stop there, because the next craft store I hit had even more varieties of succulents in even better quality. The burn? They were full price, $5.99 a stem. Yikes. But, I had visions of my dream garden centerpiece dancing in my head, so $60.00 later, I was heavy with fake succulents.

A warning - this project was not cheap. I originally thought it was a brilliant use of clearance products, but alas - my dreams were bigger and my wallet ended up emptier. I'm totally enamoured with the end result though, so it's all relative.

Let's get this party started - here are my supplies:

    • Floral foam (free - had it around the house)
    • Skyn serving bowl, Ikea, $29.99
    • Knaster river rocks, Ikea, $1.49 (2 bags)
    • Reindeer Moss, any craft store, $1.99
    • Boatload of plastic succulents (found mine at Michael's and Joann's)
    • Toothpicks
    • Serrated knife

    First, we start with the container. I had been looking for just the right bowl for some time (I actually bought the succulents back in February, but didn't purchase the bowl until 3 weeks ago). At first, I thought I was going to put this in a swoop bowl from Crate&Barrel, which would've saved me $10.00 - but I wanted something in a similar style, with a lower profile. Admittedly, I didn't want to spend $30 on this Skyn bowl from Ikea. I put it in the cart (which doesn't mean you are buying it, it just means you're thinking about it), and hemmed and hawed over it until we got to the checkout. I felt that $30 was too steep for not only a white bowl, but a white bowl at Ikea. But, for the past few months I had looked at white stoneware collections everywhere; Target, Marshalls, TJMaxx, HomeGoods (I know, all owned by the same company but usually have different stuff), Christmas Tree Shop, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Khols... so by the time I saw exactly what I was looking for on the shelf of that Swedish wonderland, I was suffering from major white-bowl fatigue and forked over the thirty smackers.

    These little bags of rocks from Ikea are such a steal - only $1.49 a bag, which is a fraction of what you'd pay at the craft store. My genius husband told me to grab two bags instead of the one I had planned, and thank goodness he did because....

    I didn't end up using any Reindeer moss at all. Originally, I thought I would use a combination of the moss and the rocks for an authentic garden feel - but as you'll see in the final result, I ended up only using the rocks. But I got bags of this on sale at the craft store, and I'm always using it in projects, so I know it will end up being utilized somewhere down the line. I wanted to leave it in the supply list though, in case any of you at home are going to attempt this project and want more coverage options.

    ...And here's my boatload of faux succulents. I basically bought every variation I could find.

    Step 1: Using a serrated knife, cut the floral foam into pieces that will fit into your bowl. Try and start with the largest pieces possible, then fill in with smaller pieces creating a base.

    Tip: I like to use toothpicks to help hold the larger pieces in place and to help prevent everything from moving around too much.

    Fill the bowl the best you can, creating a nice, solid base. It can be a challenge, depending on what shape of bowl you're working with. You could also buy a floral disk and cut that down - but since I had the blocks on hand for free, I decided to make them work. Doesn't have to be pretty, since we're going to cover it up with rocks or moss in a minute.

    Step 2: ....

    Ok, so this is where the vision in my head was a little fuzzy and unhelpful (but still fantastic!), so I paused for a moment to click through Google images using the search words "potted succulent garden."

    Notice how like plants are grouped together with smaller plants tucked around? Houston, we have ignition.

    I started with the larger plants, and grouped them together in a triangle. The thing I love about faux succulents is that, until you touch them - they can look convincingly real - well, maybe not in these photos - but in real life, some have a powdery coating or a soft velvety coating which really adds a lot of dimension to the plastic plants.

    Step 3: Fill in with smaller plants (grouping like with like) and then in-fill with stones so the floral foam disappears.

    Step 4: Step back and admire your results.

    Please tell me you love it? It looks just perfect paired with our new light fixture - the delightful mix of modern-natural. I spent all Sunday evening walking through the dining room deliberately so I could stare at it. It's just so damn adorable. It's everything I wanted it to be - which is good, because with the price tag on this one, it has to hang out for awhile (Mike was slightly horrified surprised when adding up the figures the other night as I gazed at the table lovingly). I realize I could've bought actual succulents cheaper - but these beauties won't get devoured/upchucked, so I'm very happy with my own little eternal garden I can't kill (by accident, of course).

    Bonus - I had a bunch of leftover succulents, so they will be making appearances in other parts of the house in the near future!


    1. Looks beautiful. I may try it. I have lots of fake arrangements in my house that people don't know that they're not real until you actually touch them. I bought them from a catalog that I used to get and I'll be darned if I can remember the name. They always had such beautiful, different arrangements.

    2. Thanks Cheryle! I've noticed a trend in really high-quality fake flowers lately as I hit up the craft stores. I got a beautiful fake peony for next to my bed recently (the cats ate the last one).


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