Succulent Christmas Tree Holiday Centerpiece

[With Video] My DIY succulent topiary tree holiday centerpiece needs less care than a floral arrangement, and will look good for several months (longer, if groomed).

DIY succulent topiary tree holiday centerpiece

MATERIALS

Topiary cone made of sphagnum moss, 12″ tall (including wooden base)
200 floral pins (or paper clips cut in half with wire cutters)
Clippers or scissors for taking cuttings and shortening stems
Chopstick or a Phillips screwdriver for poking holes in moss

Succulent cuttings (these are suggested, but nearly any kind will work):
Crassula ovata ‘Minima” (mini jade), 60
Sedum nussbaumerianum (Coppertone stonecrop), 30
Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’, 50
Senecio haworthii, 60

Optional:
Lazy susan
Crystal corsage pins (around 50)

Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls plant), 9′ of strands for garland

Note: Product links are affiliate. 

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Get cuttings from your garden, potted plants, nursery-grown succulents or online sources. You needn't use the same varieties that I did, but do aim for contrasting colors and textures. Use jade plant (Crassula ovata) as a filler---it's inexpensive and easy to come by. Stay away from blue, blue-gray and lavender succulents because those aren't holiday colors---unless of course that's what you prefer.
  2. Poke holes in the moss. I like to leave a chopstick in the hole so I can find it while I'm selecting the right cutting.
  3. Use larger cuttings around the base, smaller as you go up. I first created a spiral of jade, then filled in with the others. Secure cuttings with floral pins.
  4. I created a garland of string-of-pearls. Resist the temptation to decorate the little tree with vivid ornaments, thereby making it all about them and not about the succulents. I think the crystal corsage pins (second photo below) hit just the right note.

DIY succulent topiary tree holiday centerpiece

Caring for your succulent Christmas tree

Its requirements are similar to those of a succulent wreath: bright but not intense light (rotate occasionally for even exposure), weekly watering (from the top, to evenly moisten the moss), and pinching back if cuttings get leggy.

Can you keep it for next year? I tried to, but the silver haworthia is a weak plant, the jade took over, and the sedums got leggy. Plus the florist's pins rust. It's too much trouble, IMHO. The moss cone doesn't cost that much.

 

Succulent Christmas Tree video

Video: Succulent Christmas Tree DIY (8:28)

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16 Comments

  1. Kat McCarthy on November 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Your succulent topiary tree is simply spectacular! I am utterly enchanted with your use of the senecio as the garland! 🙂
    I am heading over to Youtube to get all the details of how to do this.
    Beautiful!

    • Debra on November 23, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Thank you, Kat! What a lovely comment.

  2. Hawk on November 25, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for the wonderful outlook on this concept.

    • Debra on November 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Thank YOU, Hawk!

      • Arsenia Serafica on December 12, 2019 at 10:58 pm

        This is what I’m waiting for during Christmas on how to make a Christmas Topiary. This is so fantastic and beautiful, loved watching it in your You Tube. Love it, loved. I can’t wait to make it. You’re such an amazing inspiration Debra!!!

  3. Rosie on December 4, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Oh. I love it very much.
    I would like I can get it for me.

  4. Christina on December 5, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I love this. Is this something that would stay alive, long past the holidays?

    • Debra on December 5, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Hi Christina — Yes, it’s basically a succulent wreath except it’s a cone. So the care is similar: water it from the top, give it bright light and good air circulation, rotate it for even exposure, and trim leggy growth (use trimmings to fill gaps). As long as it’s cared for, it’ll last several years, because the cuttings root into the moss.

  5. Vicky on December 5, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Very beautiful. I was a little confused on the supplies- one-inch-diameter cuttings, wouldn’t those be awfully big?

    • Debra on December 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      I was referring to the diameter of the rosette, not the stem.

  6. Deb Conway on December 18, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Where did you get the sparkly pins

    • Debra on December 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Michael’s Craft Store.

  7. Carol Wolf (SJGC) on November 7, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    WOW!! Debra, very beautiful!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on November 7, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      Thank you, Carol!

  8. Madilyn Hoock on November 9, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Hello Debra,
    I am a current FFA student who is working within floriculture and I was just wondering which assortments of cuttings you got from Mountain Crest Gardens to make your succulent tree instead of the specific plants. Thanks!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on November 9, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Madilyn —

      I took cuttings from plants in my garden and also got small rooted succulents from Oasis Water Efficient Gardens nursery near me. Any of the assortments of cuttings from Mountain Crest would work, but the closest to those I used are the “Jade Succulent Cuttings.” Also at Mountain Crest is the silvery succulent I used, wooly senecio.

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