Deck the Halls – A Succulent Christmas

Succulent tree

Who says you have to decorate with holly, mistletoe and pine? When I spotted succulent Christmas trees made up at a local nursery last Christmas for hundreds of dollars!!!,  I was inspired to create my own for Christmas.

Branch out and explore the many textures and colors of succulents.  To paraphrase the great Will Rogers: I never met a succulent that I didn’t like! I enjoy the sculptural  colorful quality of succulents so much that I continue to find ways to use them around the house and garden.

Succulent tree

Taking months to fill in, I wanted to make sure that my tree was fully grown in for the holidays, so I started the tree in the early spring. Tiny succulents in two to three inch pots are available in big box stores for a good price and if you have any existing containers of succulents, you can trim the tips off for cuttings.

Succulent varieties in small pots
Succulent varieties in small pots

 Aim for a variety of colors and textures when you select your succulent to make the tree attractive and interesting. There are so many varieties of succulents that this isn’t hard to do.

An overflowing succulent planter that I took cuttings from
An overflowing succulent planter that I took cuttings from

Step By Step for a Succulent Tree

Succulent Tree
Succulent Tree
  • Cut off a piece of chicken wire about 18 inches in length. This length depends on the size of the tree that you want to end up with. Mine ended up at 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide at the base.

  • Form the chicken wire into a cone and fasten together by bending the ends in.

Chicken wire can easily be formed into a cone
Chicken wire can easily be formed into a cone
  • Saturate sphagnum moss in water and stuff the form with the moss firmly; Be sure to pack the moss so that you have a firm base to work with

Finished cone stuffed with wet moss
Finished cone stuffed with wet moss
  • If taking cuttings, I cut the growing  tip off, measuring between 2 to 5 inches in length, and strip off the lower leaves and let the cuttings sit out at room temperature for a day or two to form a callous.

Succulent cutting with fern pins for fastening the cutting firmly into the moss
Succulent cutting with fern pins for fastening the cutting firmly into the moss
  • If you are using small potted plants, remove the plant from the pot, shake off most of the soil and you are ready to insert this into the moss form

  • Using a pencil or sharp pointed stick, insert the point into the sphagnum moss and wiggle the end to make the hole larger enough to receive the cutting or plant

  • Insert the cutting as far as you can; If the cutting is loose, you can use wire fern pins to hold it steady

  • Place the full moss cone into a pot of soil and fasten the edges to the soil with fern pins

Succulent tree finished with cuttings ready to fill in for the summer
Succulent tree finished with cuttings ready to fill in for the summer
  • For the first couple of days, keep the cone in the shade, gradually moving out to the sun, when the cuttings start to root which can take only a week or two

  • To water, submerse the cone into a bucket of water for a few minutes until thoroughly saturated, about once a week

  • As the plants grow, you will need to cut off the tips, and use these cuttings to fill in holes

My succulent tree kept growing all summer long and periodically, I would cut off a tip that was getting really long and fill in a bare spot so that by the end of the growing season, my tree was completely filled in.

At the end of the summer, the tree is fully filled in
At the end of the summer, the tree is fully filled in

If you want to see how to make other succulent creations, such as a wreath, a sphere, and a garden, go to Succulent Creations to see step by step of making other shapes. For decorating pumpkins with succulents for the holidays, go to Pumpkin Treats to see how creative you can get with succulents.

Decorate the tree with ornaments for a finishing touch
Decorate the tree with ornaments for a finishing touch

 

Finally for Christmas, I placed the pot into a decorative container and decorated with some Christmas balls. As a finishing touch, I stuck some air plants for in for a feathery texture.  Insert them in between the spaces  of the succulents.

Add air plants in at the very end
Add air plants in at the very end

 

To keep the tree alive over the winter, I will place it in a sunny window and water sparingly because succulents can rot easily when they slow growth in the winter. When spring comes, I can increase the watering so that they begin to grow again.

 

11 Replies to “Deck the Halls – A Succulent Christmas”

  1. Really clever Claire. My best bud Alys gardens in San Jose, (Gardening Nirvana . com) where they’re having an historical drought. They’ve enjoyed some rain this week, so that’s a relief. But the news coverage explained, it’s too much for the ground to manage. Now some California residence are in the path of landslides. Very worrisome.
    I think she’d enjoy your idea here, I’ll share on her FB page too. Cheers!

  2. Beautiful! I just saw Julie of Growing Days’ post on Facebook about her succulent tree last night and was admiring it. Thanks for such great instructions on how to make one!

  3. This is just gorgeous, Claire. I’m impressed that you began this in spring, already thinking ahead to Christmas! My succulents always grow leggy over the winter. We just don’t have enough natural light to keep them in good shape here in VA, and I haven’t invested in lights for them. A succulent tree is a fabulous idea. How great this would be at someone’s front entrance who lives in a warm enough climate to maintain it outside all winter. Best wishes, WG

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