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Christina Stembel - Poinsettia Centerpiece

Poinsettias are everywhere right now, and Farm Girl Flowers founder Christina Stembel is here to show us how to turn them into a beautiful living tablescape.
Poinsettia Centerpiece
Level:
Beginner
How-To:
Garden, Home Decor
Seasonal Event:
Christmas
Everyone wants an instagram worthy tablescape for the holidays but it feels like it takes a lot of time/money/know-how to create a showstopper! And especially this year, I know we all have a lot of other things to think about to make sure our holidays are extra special. Today I’m going to show you how to create a lush, seasonal floral look that’s the perfect thing for trimming your table. And with a few Farmgirl pro tips, I’ll show you how to do it in less than half the time and with materials, you can find at your grocery store, local market, and maybe even your backyard.

MATERIALS:

  • Three (3) to five (5) types of greens - since it’s the holidays, we recommend at least one or two fragrant evergreen varieties like pine, cedar or fir.
  • Poinsettia - poinsettia can be notoriously wilty when they’re cut. To make sure they live their full blooming life with you and your table we recommend buying living poinsettia plants. How many is right? That depends on the size of your table. For a smaller round we recommend one (1) medium sized plant. For a larger rectangular table we recommend two (2) to three (3).
  • Three to five flowers and bits - you’ll need a few additional flowers and bits to help flesh out your centerpiece. We recommend one or two larger headed, focal blooms (for example, roses or protea), one or two medium size blooms (like ranunculus and spray roses) and one or two bits (we whimsical flowers like wax flower and statice).
  • Water tubes - while most of the flowers in this tutorial are pretty hearty out of water, the poinsettia will not last long without hydration. Water tubes are a quick trick to help make sure these flowers stay festive all through dinner and are easy to find/relatively inexpensive. You can buy these from most craft stores - online or in person. Depending on the brand you may also see these labeled as “water picks.”
  • Clippers - a sharp pair of floral shears will make quick work of processing and trimming, but in a pinch you can also use a pair of scissors or a kitchen knife.
  • Towel - poinsettia can emit a milky sap when cut. Keep a towel or paper towel nearby when cutting to help clean up!

INSTRUCTIONS:

First, it’s time to process. Process is just a fancy word we use in the flower world when we talk about preparing our flowers and greens for designing. This means removing any excess foliage on the stems, cutting stems closer to the size that we need them to be and, for roses and other types of flowers or greens, removing thorns.

For greens - we’ll cut down our greens to more manageable sizes and create small groupings of a few different varieties to lay on the table. It can vary depending on how big your table is but in general I like to cut greens between six (6) to eight (8) inches in length. Don’t have a ruler handy? No problem! A good hack is to use your hand to measure! Pro tip: don’t let good greens go to waste. The smaller branches on the ends of branches can be the perfect size for a project like this, and the larger, sturdier stems can be cut down into multiple pieces so you can make sure you make your greens go the extra mile.

For flowers - if you’re using roses, use your clippers to very carefully trim off the pointy heads of each thorn. For all stems, remove any foliage from the stems - you won’t need them on this for this DIY.

Second, it’s time to get the poinsettia ready for the garland! Normally poinsettia can be a wilty choice for a cut flower, but with the magic of a water tube you can make sure these seasonal stems last through dinner and dessert! First, find a small bowl and fill it with water. Second, depending on the type of tube you’ve purchased you’ll either submerge the water tube in the bowl and let the water flow in through the small hole in the top or you’ll remove the top, fill the tube with water and replace the cap. Pro tip: either way, make sure you fill each tube up about halfway with water.

Next, it’s time to get trimming! Using your clippers once again, trim the poinsettias off the plant one at a time. To make sure you have a good assortment to work with, i recommend cutting these to varying heights. Once cut, touch the stem to the towel or paper towel you’ve reserved to absorb any sap and then place the stem in the hole in the water tube. Push down gently to ensure the stem is submerged in water.

Get arranging. Normally making a garland can take hours of work, twine and a lot of elbow grease. This hack takes only minutes is the perfect way to get the same look with less effort!

First, make bundles of the greens. You’ll want one or two stems of each type. Next, begin laying the greens on the table. If you have a rectangular table, aim to create two rows of greens down the center of the table with the stems pointing in, towards each other (you’ll cover these with flowers and more greens next!). If you have a circular table, you can create a circle of the greens with, again, the stems pointing in. You’ll want to keep the greens fairly close together, criss crossing some of the stems over one another on the opposite side. This will create the “bed” you’ll lay your flowers on.

Pro Tip: now is not the time to be perfect. Symmetry rarely occurs in nature so don’t feel too wedded to it when designing either. If some stems are a little longer than others or your line (or circle!) Isn’t perfect, don’t worry about it! It adds character and a little flair to the end design! Reserve about ⅓ of your greens for finishing touches as you lay flowers!

Second, it’s time to add flowers. You’ll want to start with your larger blooms first, like your roses or carnations. To keep things from getting too polka dotty (technically not a technical term, but it’s what we use at farmgirl), pick up two or three roses at a time and group them together. Next, trim the stems shorter (four or five inches will do!) And lay them on top of the greens at irregular intervals!

Next you’ll do the same with your medium head blooms. Again, make sure to group flowers in twos or threes and to stagger at irregular intervals. These may (or may not) overlap with your other flowers depending on how big your “garland” is. Either works!

Before you add in your smaller headed flowers and bits, add in some of those reserve greens! I like to keep a few to add in at the end, but another layer around/in between/on top of the flowers you’ve laid will help to marry the design together!

Time for the little guys! Add in your smaller flowers and bits now, making sure, again, to group the stems. I like to add these around/on top of the flower bundles to help blend everything together and, again, to keep things from feeling polka dotty!

Last, add your poinsettias. At this point, you’ll have a small mound of flowers and greens. You can use this as cover for the water tube. Gently tuck each tube into the flowers/greens to hide it and let the poinsettia gently lay on top. Same as with your other flowers, i like to group the poinsettias together in twos or threes to keep the overall look feeling natural and like it grew that way.

Last looks! Zhush any stems, move any blooms and tuck any last bits and blooms in to make sure the end result is full and lush! Enjoy and, of course, happy holidays!

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