Magazine article Sunset

4-Minute Bouquets

Magazine article Sunset

4-Minute Bouquets

Article excerpt

Dress up your home for the holidays, almost instantly, with plants from the grocery store or nursery

During the holiday season, most of us don't have time to make elaborate flower arrangements. Sure, you could order bouquets from a florist, or tumble out of bed on Thanksgiving Day to raid your garden for plant material before popping the turkey in the oven. Or you can create your own living bouquets like the ones shown here. They couldn't be easier: all you do is slip readily available plants into household containers such as baskets, bowls, or tureens, then cover their nursery pots with damp sphagnum moss. Once you've rounded up the ingredients, these arrangements go together quickly: the bowl pictured at right took only four minutes from start to finish.

Best of all, these arrangements can last for three weeks or longer. Then you can take them apart and give each plant a more permanent home in a pot or outdoors in a garden bed.

Choose a container first, then shop for plants to match its colors and size. (Take color cues from the decor of the room where the arrangement will be displayed.)

Many of the plants, including chrysanthemums, florists' cyclamen, kalanchoes, 'Needlepoint' ivy, and ornamental peppers, are sold in the gift plant section of grocery stores; buy them while you shop for your holiday meal. For a broad selection of bedding plants, stop by a nursery where you're likely to find fail-winter bloomers such as calendula, flowering cabbage and kale, Johnny-jump-up, pansy, primrose, stock, sweet alyssum, and viola.

While shopping, color-coordinate your plants, matching the flowers or fruit with foliage. For example, bright orange Rieger begonias or flaming kalanchoe blooms play off the orange blush of croton leaves beautifully.

DISPLAY TIPS

You can display these bouquets temporarily in a warm, low-light area, but after the holidays, move them into a cool, bright location out of drafts and away from furnace vents. Water often enough to keep the soil moist, and regularly clip off spent blooms or fruits. In mild-winter climates, chrysanthemum, flowering kale, ivy, primrose, stock, and other bedding plants can go into outdoor containers or the ground.

Sunshine in a soup tureen

Ornamental peppers (two plants in 4-inch pots), miniature chrysanthemums (two plants in 4-inch pots), and kalanchoe (one plant in a 4-inch pot) combine in an 8-inch-wide tureen. First, line the tureen with a plastic garbage bag, then set in the pepper plants. Add small mums and kalanchoe, or substitute english primroses or Rieger begonias. Cover any visible pot edges with sphagnum moss.

Autumn bounty in a basket

Adapt this design to fit any size basket. Croton (one plant in 6-inch pot), ornamental peppers (two plants in 4-inch pots), kalanchoe (two plants in 4-inch pots), Rieger begonia (one plant in 4-inch pot), and 'Needlepoint' ivy (six plants in 4-inch pots) fill basket tray measuring 9 by 21 inches.

First, line the basket with a plastic garbage bag. Place the croton toward one end, with the peppers, kalanchoe, and begonia around it. Use ivy to soften the basket's rim (to fit in more ivy, knock plants from pots and slip the rootballs into plastic sandwich bags). Camouflage pots and rootballs with moist sphagnum moss. …

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