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Succulent | Centerpieces

Merl Kinzie

You know what's a cruel twist of fate? Growing up as a literal flower child* but lacking the green thumbs that your parents possess. It's like Mother Nature exacting her revenge for all the times I contemplated stomping down a whole row of sunflowers instead of cutting only the open ones.  In my defense, the mercury was usually hovering around 11369 degrees with the air just swimming around me while I cut stalks twice my head. These days I can usually manage to convince a few big leafy pals to stick around my apartment before they inevitably succumb to their shriveled graves, but the ones I actually have success with are their tiny spiky and fleshy breathren: succulents.

{yes, I seriously grew up on a flower farm, and yes my parents still own and operate it. flower power baby.}

Similar to how all squares are parallelograms but not all parallelograms are squares, nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. But, for the sake of this tutorial and our spinning heads, we're gonna just use the term succulent even though you'll see some little guys with spikes that can be invisible while also causing excruciating pain once they sneak into your skin. While the process of giving a plant a new potted home seems pretty easy [take it out of the plastic, put it in a new pot, fill with dirt: voila! HIGH FIVE MAMA N] there are a myriad of ways to complicate the process, which can have varying levels of success. Today I'm sharing my tried and true method of planting succulents, with an added brassy flair because I'm a sparkly loving magpie and I know many of you are too. No shame guys. I collaborated with Sit Kip Productions on this video and Kate knocked it out of the PARK with the filming and editing. Grab some popcorn and your notepad for the tutorial below!

..and for those who need some non moving bullet points, here's a cheat sheet for ya:


-while many people suggest using containers that have holes for drainage at the bottom, I steer away from those because I don't want those ugly plastic containers under to catch the drainage. Instead, I find some funky vintage vessels that add to the decor factor of these living works of art.


-Alternate bullet point: Drainage. The biggest probability of death for succulents is overwatering & lack of drainage. This is actually a good point to remember for all plants, but especially for these little desert dwellers. Without proper drainage, the roots will end up rotting since the water won't be soaked up into the plant and instead will remain stagnant. In the video, I used 3 different drainage materials because YOU AIN'T THE BOSS OF ME. Also, the brass beads obviously had to make an appearance because Diddy and I have flashy tastes. [It's important to note that unsealed brass bits will tarnish over time with the exposure to water, but just roll with it fussy pants.]

-While you can mix your own soil using a combo of regular dirt + sand/rock mix, but we live in modern times and companies know we love the quickest, easiest method of doing anything, so most garden stores will stock a special succulent/cacti potting mix. In the video, I could've mixed the perlite, rocks, beads with the dirt if I had wanted, but in my opinion that would look too messy in those pretty glassware.

A F T E R   C A R E:


-less is more with succulents. These guys are super low maintenance in the winter, and only really need a drink every few weeks. In the summer, they may need a light bath every week or so, but in both seasons, you really have to play it by ear. It depends so much on the humidity levels in their location and the best practice is just to pay attention. If they are looking soft and droopy, or if you see water pooling on top of the top soil or rock layer, ease off buddy. Alternately, if they are gasping for breath in their dehydrated prisons, give em some sprinkles. Sometimes it helps to have see through containers, because you can see how much water is pooling down into the drainage level and help you gauge how much they need. I've also had better success with using a spray bottle versus a watering can, as it's easier to control the limited amount they need. Last note on agua: room temperature is preferable, distilled if you wanna pamper those plants.


-Much like me, these guys can't handle the full force of the death star, aka the sun. Ideally, they would receive some bright albeit indirect light. In nature, they are usually chilling underneath some taller friends, so they would get filtered light. Obviously cacti are a bit more hardy, but the softer, fuller plants will need a bit of a respite from the harsh rays. This is also another trial and error experiment that requires some regular attention to figure out where they are the happiest.

While succulents are typically sought after by folks with black thumbs, just know that these guys aren't immortal.. and you shouldn't carrying a scythe while wearing a black robe if you wake up to a plant graveyard. Some varieties seem to be tougher than others, so it's all about finding which ones you 'bond' with the best.

{literally everything on the table is thrifted except for the scarf turned table cloth [Scout & Catalogue '2nds' sale, -sold out-, but similar here] & the succulents. Find similar  gold plated flatware + glasses / or these + brass candlesticks. All of these items are very easily found at your local thrift or charity shop as well. **all the succulent planters shown will be available for PURCHASE at our 2nd Friday's Pop Up at our shudio in Pilsen! 1021 W 18th St, Chicago, IL**}

The best part about these little guys is that they make excellent, unusual table centerpieces as well. They have a longer shelf life than flowers obviously, but take more prep work so it's a toss up which version works best for your event. However, I think they add a unique, unexpected flair to a table setting and would also make thoughtful little gifts if you're one of those generous folks who give things away to people who eat all your food and leave you with a sink full of dishes. Just for the record.. I love getting plants at gifts and am very good at cleaning my plate so there's less to wash. WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE.


{filming + editing: Sit Kip Productions | prop styling + art direction: Merl Kinzie | song: Johnny Ripper "Everyday Life"}