My DIY succulent topiary tree holiday centerpiece needs less care than a floral arrangement, and will look good for several months (longer, if groomed).
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
Crystal corsage pins (around 50)
Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls plant), 9′ of strands for garland
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 senecio 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.
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