Succulent wedding bouquet
I thought it might be fun to talk in some detail about a few of our recent wedding projects and activities that we particularly enjoyed and that perhaps others might also enjoy or find useful. I will begin with one of my favorite and most asked about projects – the succulent bouquets. Having only worked with succulents in my garden, I must say I began the process a bit intimated.
I started collecting succulents as soon as my daughter said she wanted to use them in her wedding. My first step was to take cuttings from the plants already growing in my garden. After deciding which plants I thought would best match Cindy’s vision, I simply cut off a piece of stem or a branch near a joint, striped off the lower leaves and stuck it into a well draining potting mix; I used a cactus mix and potting soil at about a fifty fifty ratio. I kept them well watered for a couple of a weeks, the key is to make sure they are very well drained as soggy soil is death to a succulent. While most of the succulents that populate my garden live happily in the sun, I kept my cuttings in mostly shade during the rooting process. After a few weeks I began testing to check if they were taking root by gently giving them a tug, if they resisted they were rooting. I have read suggestions about dipping cuttings in a root hormone, and I guess that could be useful, but my Grandma Jane spent a lifetime rooting countless cuttings to share with family and friends and never used root hormone so neither did I.
While I was able to get quite a lot of plants through my cuttings, the wedding projects would definitely require more than I could start. So I looked around and found a local nursery that specializes in succulents. I also returned to the small garden center near the beach where I had purchased my first succulents for my Florida garden. I also discovered that the large home improvement stores sometimes carry them, but I had more luck, and more fun, searching the smaller, locally owned nurseries and garden centers of my area. But I also knew that if all else failed, succulents like everything else, are readily available on line.
Finally the day before the wedding I gathered all my supplies; a knife, scissors, wire cutters and pliers; floral wire, floral tape, wired floral picks and floral foam; wooden dowels and flora pins with diamond heads; the plants ; some friends, my sisters and mama.
We started by shaping the floral foam, using a knife we carved them into softball size spheres. We created a handle for the bouquet by inserting a wooden dowel, six or seven inches long, into the foam. The dowel was attached to the foam by wrapping floral wire around the dowel, up and over the foam again and again until secure, then we repeated the process using floral tape. Next we carefully selected succulents for shape, color and size. By stripping away lower foliage we made a short stem, one half to one inch long. Next we mounted each succulent piece to floral picks by wrapping the wire, which comes attached to the pick, snugly around the plant stem but taking care not to dig into the stem. Carefully we pushed the picks, with succulents attached, into the foam. We found needle nose pliers useful in this step. Also we learned the hard way that you need to be aware of the length of the pick in relation to the width of the foam. Take care not to push the pick or pin all the way through and out the other side into unsuspecting flesh – ooch! Beleive me I know. If a pick is too long it can simply be snapped into a shorter piece. When a plant didn’t have enough stem to wrap with wire or was too big and heavy, we carefully pushed the pick through the plant center, from the top down and directly into the foam. Starting with larger plants we continued to insert plants around the foam taking care to keep the shape symmetrical. Next we used smaller plants to fill in until all the foam was concealed. For this we used the diamond headed pins inserted through the crown of the plant. Finally we finished by wrapping six inch wide ribbon of black towel around the dowels; attached with a dab of hot glue. They looked amazing!