ISSUE 105  |  Editors' Picks 2013

DIY: The Ultimate Disguise

January 01, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Erin Boyle

In the springtime, muscari–also known as grape hyacinth–can be spotted around the base of nearly every tree in my Brooklyn neighborhood. A florist’s pot of the striking blue flowers is one of my favorite gifts to bring to a friend’s house. After they finish blooming, the bulbs can be planted and will re-flower next spring. In the meantime, dress up the plastic pot with a disguise:

Photographs by Erin Boyle.

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Without a beautiful cachepot handy, I turned to the humble brown paper lunch bag. It’s possible that I read The Paper Bag Princess a few too many times as a child, but if you ask me, the brown paper sack gets seriously overlooked in the sartorial department, especially when it comes to dressing up plants.

You can order grape hyacinth bulbs now for fall planting. Muscari Armeniacum is available seasonally for $32.75 for 100 bulbs from White Flower Farm.

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Most potted muscari plants that you buy from greenhouses or florists come in small plastic pots, just the right size for plopping into a brown paper lunch bag. These pots have a 4.5-inch diameter and they fit snugly into my paper bags.

A bundle of sandwich size Brown Paper Bags is $6.41 from Webstaurant.

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To begin, I trimmed the top inch or two from my paper sack. (I find that the opening gets a bit too tight otherwise.)

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Next, I put the entire pot into the bag. (I gave my pots a good soak first, but gave them time to drain so the bottoms weren’t dripping.) Since the muscari will only be displayed this way for a short time, you don’t have to worry about the bottom of the bag getting soggy. Muscari doesn’t like wet feet, so a gentle watering is all these plants need in their final days before planting.

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The next step is to begin to fold the top of the bag. You might be tempted to snip the sides to make folding easier, but I find that this compromises the sturdiness of the fold. Be patient and work your way around the circumference of the pot, until you have one fold.

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For my pots, I needed to make two complete folds before I reached the top of the pot. You’ll notice that the opening gets tighter the more that you fold, which helps disguise the plastic pot and gives a sweet shape to the bag.

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In my own home, I like to leave the pots as is, without ribbon. But if you’re planning to give a plant to a friend, you might decide to cinch things with a bow.

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I like the soft look of a classic cotton twill tape paired with the brown paper. Natural Cotton Twill Tape with a width of 5/8 inch is $7.65 for 25 yards from Online Fabric.

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If you plan to give your pots away, make sure to let recipients know that after the flowers begin to wilt, they can plant the entire contents of the pot in the spring soil. When the green leaves turn yellow, they can remove those, but should be sure to leave the remaining bulbs; they will bloom again next spring.

For another DIY floral arrangement, see Baby’s First Bouquet: Fragrant Flowers to Welcome a Newborn.

Explore more: Spring Bulbs.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published March 21, 2013 during a week when we were exploring Loft Living.