ISSUE 42  |  Dark Shadows

Bouquet of the Week: Celebrating Decay for Halloween

October 22, 2014 1:30 PM

BY Sophia Moreno-Bunge

A wild grapevine withering on the side of a road in upstate New York inspired me to celebrate decay in this week’s Halloween arrangement.

I decided to use the wild leafless grapevine as a skeleton to support air plants. Arranging air plants (the common name for tillandsias) can be tricky; pairing them with pretty flowers seems too sweet. So I added some more texture and spiky branches of leucadendrons and amsonia.

For a list of materials and step-by-step instructions, see below.

Photography by Sophia Moreno-Bunge for Gardenista.



  • 3 or 4 tillandsias of different sizes (I chose a large one and a few small ones)
  • 1 bunch of leucadendron
  • 1 bunch of amsonia
  • A few wild grapevines
  • Floral tape
  • A small, low vase


Above: The spiky shapes of tillandsias.


Above: Leucadendron, while not native to New York, reminds me of fall, and lasts a very long time in arrangements.


Above: I used the grapevine’s natural shape to create a set of loops. If you don’t have grapevine, get creative. In a pinch, rose bushes in their rosehip stage (or wisteria) would work. Everything in this arrangement can be substituted for other, similar plants.


Above: I hooked the end of the grapevine under the tape to create the loop.


Above: The grapevine serves as a base to support and keep all other stems in place.


Above: Next, place the tillandsias by hooking them onto the grapevine’s clingy branches. The large one I have off center, slightly on the right side.


Above: Next I added the leucadendrons in a cluster, with stems at different heights to create more movement. I made sure there were some close to the lip of the vase, and others reaching up.


Above: Strip leaves off the bottom of the leucadendron stems so no leaves touch water. Leaves left in water will rot and cause your arrangement to die more quickly.


Above: Next, I added a cluster of amsonia. Native to the US, it is common in Southern states, though I’ve seen it here in New York (probably because it is known to withstand hot summers).


Above: The final arrangement is spidery and reminds me of the autumnal landscape I saw upstate this past weekend: lots of bare vines, yellowing, and crumpled leaves that had amazing textures.

Sophia_moreno-bunge_Gardenista_Arrangement_Tillandsia_close up

Above: Shriveled grapes and the fullness of leucadendron create an interesting contrast.

For more Halloween magic, follow us all week as we explore what lurks in the Dark Shadows. Want to get in the spirit? Send Us Your Halloween Pictures.