ISSUE 71  |  Kitchen Gardens

DIY: A Tiny Tabletop Garden for Mother’s Day

May 10, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

How cute are tiny succulents? They’re more like pets than plants, with their eager expressions and those pillowy leaves you can’t resist touching. 

On Wednesday, Gardenista partnered with the folks at Anthropologie to sponsor a workshop at the retailer’s downtown San Francisco store, where we crowd-source a foolproof recipe for a DIY tiny tabletop garden of succulents. Think of it as a Living Bouquet for Mother’s Day.

For the early-evening workshop, we brought pots and dirt and plants and, with the help of 30 participants, came up this set of easy instructions and a list of materials to use at home: 

Photographs by Amy Widdowson.

Above: In small containers, we packed in from four to six succulents to create a bouquet effect.


Above: We used an assortment of succulents in different colors and shapes, including some that flop over and some that grow in a low, tight pattern. (Special thanks to Amy Widdowson and Dave Gifford from our parent company SAY Media for sourcing and procuring the supplies–a couple of hours before the workshop started, they even braved post-ballgame traffic to make a “plant run” to the Mission to pick up 200 tiny succulents from Paxton Gate.)

Above: To start, gently remove the succulents from their little plastic pots and hold them together in your hands as if you are holding a bouquet. It will give you a sense of how tightly you want to pack them and also of how the colors and shapes will play off each other in the pot.

Next, put down the succulents. (Don’t worry, you can play with them again later.)

Next, pour a 2-inch layer of gravel into the bottom of the pot to aid drainage.

On top of the gravel add a 2-3 inch layer of potting soil. 

Place the succulents in the potting soil, adjusting them so the tops of their root balls are level with the top edge of the pot. 

Add teaspoonfuls of soil around the root balls, if necessary, and then push gently with your index fingers on the dirt around the base of each plant to make sure it’s in there firmly.

If you want, add a a layer of gravel to the surface for decoration.

Above: The result? Irresistible. As you can see, every one of the tabletop gardens was unique–and lovely. The easy project took about 15 minutes (but we dragged it out because we were enjoying the raspberry lemonade and the cupcakes that the staff at Anthropologie graciously served.)

Above: Among our participants we even had a mother-daughter pair. We asked, “Does Mom get both succulent gardens for Mother’s Day?” We didn’t get a straight answer.

Not sold on succulents for Mother’s Day? For a fresh flower option, see Not Your Mother’s Rose Bouquet.