For a great hostess gift, arrange a bouquet of succulent rosettes in a glass container filled with layers of colored sand. Despite no roots, soil or water, cuttings wired onto faux stems and wrapped with floral tape last for months, living on the moisture in their leaves. The sand lends color, style and interest, and serves as ballast so top-heavy rosettes don’t tumble out.
Colored sand is available online from Amazon, occasionally found at crafts stores, or you can make your own. Obtain a bag of playground sand from any home improvement store, plus Rit dye in whatever colors you want (sold in supermarkets and online). The sand looks white but is actually pale gray, but that’s OK, because the resulting muted colors look good with the plants. To color sand, pour the liquid dye into a pan no longer used for food, add sand to the level of the liquid, and bake until the liquid evaporates—300 degrees for an hour or so. Stir occasionally with a metal spatula or clean garden trowel. Let it cool outside, stirring every so often to expose moist sand and to break lumps. When cool, funnel the dry sand into glass jars and store the excess in ziplock bags labeled with whatever color or mix you used.
When making a bouquet, I like to select sand based on the colors of the rosettes or vice versa.
It’s fun to experiment with layers of sand and hard to go wrong. I generally fill the container halfway with three different colors, turn it on its side and rotate it to make swirls, then add more soil to make sure stems will be concealed. Push a chopstick into the layers to make V’s along the inside of the glass. These next two bouquets are by attendees at one of my workshops.
Check out my new Debra Recommends page for more garden-themed gifts and decorating ideas!
Sign up for my “Stunning Succulent Arrangements” Craftsy Class and learn how to make bouquets, wreaths, terrariums and more. For a limited time, I’m offering 50% off the regular enrollment of $40. Makes a great gift! Take the class at your convenience, see other students’ work and post your own (if you like), read my answers to their questions, and ask your own questions, too!