The thing about DIY projects with found objects is that no two will ever be the same. You just kind of have to work with what you've got. I had one goal, to make centerpieces of potted plants for a vintage-style wedding in Los Angeles and spend little to no money. I took stock of what I needed and what I had available personally that could fit the need:
Plants - I have a lot of succulents in my yard and access to even more at family and friend's gardens. I also know succulents are pretty forgiving when it comes to cutting and propagation. Free and easy? Succulents it is.
Labor - 15 centerpieces is a lot of succulent arrangements. I have a friend (Erin) who I can beg to have help me. "Erin, Erin, you have to, have to, HAVE to help me. Please please pleeeaaase!"
Potting Media - Potting soil is negligible cost-wise. I usually have bags of cactus mix around and if I have to buy another bag or two, it's really not a huge expense.
Containers - D'Oh! These can be really expensive, even for fairly plain glazed containers. I didn't want something totally standard either. So I had to look around for a while before I finally found something I liked.
Succulents look nice when arranged in wide, shallow containers, and they don't mind the minimal root space, for a while at least. So anything that was short, wide, and could hold soil was a potential candidate. That's when I stumbled upon the perfect container for an L.A. event... Old film cans!
I have access to these old cans that get tossed in favor of more archival plastic containers. One of the perks of working at an archive. While these metal cans may not be good for movie reels, they're perfect for me! I got an assortment of these from 11 to 15 inches in diameter. They are are all roughly two inches deep. Plenty of space for small succulent cuttings.
They have all sorts of labels from the movies they once held. This assortment included some fun movies like That Touch of Mink and Barry Lyndon. And less impressive movies like Psycho II & III. (Can you believe they actually made three sequels to the original Psycho? You think people would learn to just keep driving when they see a sign for the Bates Motel.)
So with the container situation sorted out, we got started. First we had to gather our cuttings. For more info on how to take cuttings, you can take a look at our post on building succulent wreaths. Then we got our containers, a bag of cactus mix, and a bag of perlite (pumice would work too).
We put a thin layer of perlite at the bottom of the container to help a little with drainage. There are no holes at the bottom of the cans after all. Even with the perlite though, we'll still have to be careful to not overwater when everything's planted. We put the cactus mix on top of the perlite. Then we just got to arranging the cuttings.
The first few we did ended up being a little sparse. But the wedding planner who is always full of awesome ideas had suggested these tapioca wood flowers to mix in with the succulents. And with a little sand to cover the soil, it looked much more finished.
We're still playing with all these arrangements. We've got a couple months before the actual event. So if some of these cuttings don't take, or if it still looks too empty on second glance, we'll stick in some more cuttings later. But all this is just fussing. We're pretty pleased with the overall look (vintage, Hollywood, quirky), and the overall cost (free-ish).
To see more photos of the centerpieces and the assembly process, check out this link.