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DIY Bouquet: Needs No Water, Lasts a Month


DIY Bouquet: Needs No Water, Lasts a Month

October 21, 2013

Who among us has not have fallen in love with a cute-as-a-button baby succulent, only to have it grow into an awkward, leggy teenager with thick, gnarled stems? Luckily it’s easy to transform it back into something glorious: a bouquet that needs no water.

I discovered the trick the other day when I wandered into a local floral shop called Green Door Design, where owner Susie Turner had brought in thick-stemmed echeveria succulents pruned from her garden. Tied in bunches, they were lying on tables around the shop.

“You can put them in a vase–with no water–and they’ll be happy for a month or longer,” Turner told me. “Then, stick them in dirt and they’ll grow.”

“Seriously?” I asked.

“They’re $12.99 a bunch,” she said.


Photographs by Michelle Slatalla.

Above: Better than fake flowers. Native to the mountains of Mexico, echeveria are happiest in the desert. What this translates to at home: no maintenance, no upkeep, and they’ll last for weeks in a vase.

When choosing a vase, remember that succulents, plump from hoarding water in their leaves, look good juxtaposed against metal or a rough surface.

Above: There are a lot of different types of echeveria. The genus belongs to the Crassulaceae family of succulents, and was named after the 18th-century Spanish botanist Atanasio Echeverrí­a (who collected plants and made drawings during an expedition to Mexico).

If you are like me and have a hard time keeping your succulent varieties straight, don’t worry about getting “the right echeveria.” All you need to make a similar bouquet is a few leggy succulents with a rosette-shaped flower at the end of each stem.

Above: As echeveria grow, their leaves fall off and reveal a thick, woody stem. After a few months, they start to look like a prehistoric plant you’d see in the background of a Jurassic Park sequel. It doesn’t hurt the parent plant if you prune the woody stems. (If you don’t want to make a bouquet, you can also prune the stem just below the flower and root it directly in soil.)

Above: To make a bouquet, step one was to prune woody bits off each stem. The idea was to make a tight clump of flowers (so the woody parts don’t show); the straighter the stems, the tighter you can clump them.

Above: I tied twine around a “base bouquet” that consisted of several stems cut to a similar length.

Above: As you can see, the “base bouquet” still had lots of gaps in it–after it went into the vase, I could see a lot of woody stems. So the next step was to tuck in individual stems to fill out the arrangement.

Above: The result was a pillowy, sensuous ball of flowers.

Above: I kept the height of the bouquet low to create the effect of a plush pincushion above the lip of a painted iron vase from France (circa 1920). An urn shape with a wide mouth is a good shape to hold the stiff bouquet in place.

And a month from now? I’ll plant the echeveria. Check back if you want to see step-by-step instructions.

Are you a sucker for succulents? See our tips on How to Stop Killing Your Indoor Succulents and instructions for making a DIY Succulent Table (with a permanent centerpiece).

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