About three or four years ago, I bought three tiny potted succulents at Eastern Market on a whim. I knew nothing about them, but they were so tiny and cute that I had to have them. I think I paid maybe $3 for all of them. I put them in my kitchen window, which faces south, and kind of forgot about them. Our business was growing, I was super busy, and I just didn’t have much time to devote to them. My cats kept jumping into the windowsill and knocking the plants over, knocking soil into the sink. After awhile, there was pretty much no soil left, but they hadn’t died, so I just kept putting them in the window, making a mental note to buy cactus soil and never actually doing it.
I tell this story not to point out what a bad plant-keeper I was, but to illustrate how amazingly resilient these plants are. After being neglected for a good year in pots with hardly any soil, these plants not only lived, but still looked healthy. I finally took pity on them, bought some proper pots and soil, and started paying attention to them, and then they grew vigorously. I discovered that you can propagate them very easily, and they are just about impossible to kill. Soon I had a bunch of baby plants I was giving away, and I got interested in getting more – because succulents come in amazing varieties, some of which look like they should be growing in a coral reef or on an alien planet.
I have basically become obsessed with them now, so I’m thrilled to see that they have become a huge trend in weddings. I’m seeing succulents in bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and being used a favors. Succulents are a GREAT choice for your wedding decor.
- They can live without roots, or water for days/weeks without shriveling up. This makes them an ideal choice for a wedding – especially Michigan weddings during a hot, humid summer. I’ve seen hydrangeas wilt an hour into the day, and fall flat far before the ceremony even starts. A succulent arrangement doesn’t need to be babied and you don’t need to worry about keeping them in water all day so they don’t droop.
- They come in a huge assortment of shapes and colors. While most people think of succulents as being green, they also come in lovely pastel colors, dusty blues, minty greens, opalescent pinks and purples, and even oranges that work great for summer and fall bouquets and centerpieces.
- They can easily be dressed up or down. They work easily in both formal, elegant arrangements and rustic, charming ones. They look good with soft pastel flowers or bold colors, and even work well in tropical arrangements.
- One of the most compelling reasons to me – even if you cut off the roots, they will easily re-root and can be planted after your wedding. Imagine having a plant that came from your bouquet! It’s a wonderful keepsake, and you can even give cuttings to your friends or sisters to use in their bouquets.
- They make awesome favors that are attractive and something your guests will really want to keep. Small cuttings root in 2 – 3 weeks, and tucked into a small pot, they are a perfect, portable favor that you can dress up or down to match your wedding’s style.
- If you are into DIY, you can readily get cuttings for about $1 a piece online and use them to make boutonnieres and favors. (More on that below.)
The flowers in the photo at the top of this post, and the three here below were created by Eden Designs.
This bouquet above was created by Flourish Event Design, one of our favorite vendors. Because succulents don’t have stems like traditional flowers, they have to hand-wired to be added to your bouquet. According to Lindsey from Flourish, adding succulents to your wedding flowers does mean you’ll be paying a bit more for labor, but when you consider that you can re-use all those plants after the wedding, I think it’s worth the upgrade.
To turn your bouquet, boutonnieres, centerpieces and other wedding succulents into plants after your wedding, simply remove any wire attached to the plant, remove any damaged leaves, and place them in cactus soil in a pot with good drainage. Give them a week or two to rest and form roots, and then you can begin to water them. Here’s a youtube video that explains how to make a bouquet…..seeing how one is made will make it easy to understand how to dismantle the bouquet later to save the plants.
Here are some of the succulents I’m growing at home. The first plant on the left is one of the ones I bought at Eastern Market years ago. When I got it, it was maybe an inch tall. I know have about 5 of these plants that I’ve propagated from cuttings and each is about 7-10 inches tall. The plant on the far right is called “string-of-pearls”. They are usually sold in hanging baskets and they always look kind of unhappy in the store. Take one home, tear it up and place the pieces in your other pots and they will curl over the sides and make lovely filler. I don’t know why, but they always look terrible in the store, but at home you will fall in love with them!
This one on the left side in the white pot is also one of my Eastern Market plants. This thing is huge and sends off tons of stems/baby plants. On the right is my little collection living in my sunroom.
Right now, I’m seeing succulents everywhere. English Gardens, Lowes, and Home Depot are good places to start. I’ve even seen some surprisingly nice ones super cheap at Walmart. With summer on its way, garden centers are getting shipments weekly so you’ll always find new stuff. I recently stumbled upon a blog by another photographer who’s also obsessed like me. She has some great links to online sellers here.
That said, if you are looking to buy a lot of a certain type, or just want to expand your collection, one great source I’ve found is Etsy. I recently ordered a set of random cuttings from the seller 5 Star Succulents. Mine arrived two weeks ago, and this is what I got:
They came in two packages wrapped in tissue paper, and when I laid them all out, I had quite a few different plants. I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with all of them. I may eventually do a wreath or vertical hanging. Right now I have them all in small pots while I wait for them to root.
Other than cuttings, you can also propagate new plants from individual leaves. This method works with succulents that grow on a stem, for ones that grow in a rosette, you’re better off waiting for a baby plant to offset. Growing from a leaf is a very slow method, and it doesn’t work 100% of the time, so if you need the plants for an event, I suggest buying cuttings. When I visit garden centers now, I always check out the area around the succulents for broken leaves and I take some home. They are just going to get tossed out anyway. Pots with multiple plants in them almost always have broken leaves from being planted or being handled by customers. You’ll find them in the dirt, or in the trays the pots are in. I usually come home with maybe a half dozen whenever I go somewhere with succulents for sale. Sometimes they already have baby roots forming. (I always do end up purchasing stuff though!)
You’ll need healthy, plump leaves to propagate. They need to break cleanly off the main plant at the joint where they attach to the stem. Let them sit in a dry shady place for 24-48 hours until you see a callous form on the broken part. The callous will prevent fungi and other bad stuff from infecting the plant. Then just lay them on dry soil and wait. When you see roots you can start to lightly mist them and when baby plants form, you can put them in a small pot.
Here are some I started maybe three weeks ago. You can see they have roots forming and one has a tiny plant growing. Again, I have no idea what I will do with all these plants, this is just my summer science project.
If you want to see more ideas on how to use succulents in your wedding, I’ve created a Pinterest board, and there’s even more stuff to be found there. (While you’re there, don’t forget to follow us!)
Hopefully this post has given you some ideas. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section. I’m not a total expert, but I am a nerd and tend to research things I’m interested in like crazy. :)