The holidays are coming up quickly and as we entertain family and friends, it's great to have a colorful centerpiece for the table. While traditional cornucopias are nice, this year consider creating a living succulent centerpiece.
Succulents are small plants with thick leaves, stems, or roots. Cactus, aloe, and jade plants are some common ones. But don't get confused. While all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. True cactus has what's called an areole. It looks like a patch of cotton from which spines, flowers, and roots grow. Succulents don't have areoles.
Succulents are mostly grown for their colorful leaves and leaf textures and many make nice house plants. Some common outdoor perennials, such as hens and chicks, are good choices. Hens and chicks feature low-growing clusters of flower-like rosettes with rounded edges in a variety of shades and colors. The panda plant, or kalanchoe, has thick, fuzzy, blue-gray leaves tipped with soft rust-color hairs. Burro’s tail is a cascading sedum with small blue-green tails that can grow 3 feet long.
To grow a centerpiece, find a wide and shallow bowl or pot. Line the bottom with plastic to prevent water runoff and fill it with slightly moistened potting soil, mounding it in the middle. Place your most dramatic, large succulent plants in the center and work down towards the pot rim with other plants. Plant cascading succulents along the edge. Water sparingly in winter, letting the soil dry out between waterings. After the holidays, grow succulents in a brightly lit, cool window.
Next week I’ll be talking about chestnuts. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.