CERTIFIED TEXAS EXPERT GARDENER — Potted plant tablescapes eliminates Thanksgiving drama

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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For some, Thanksgiving is about food: succulent turkey, surrounded by numerous tasty fixings and of course desserts!

Others tend to focus on the Thanksgiving “environment” created: family and friends all gathered in one place.

Perhaps a combination: the melding of the two?

Years ago, our family migrated away from the traditional, formal place settings where plates are surrounded by flatware and glassware to our less fussy, “earthy” approach by employing potted plants, harnessing my collection throughout the tablescape and buffet areas.

Sometimes Thanksgiving can seem lonely for some of us, and plants (to me) can provide a level of comfort. The scents of the holiday make it memorable, and often we associate herbs used when cooking the turkey.

Savory herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme have rich, pleasing scents and are highly attractive when displayed in small terra cotta planters and can be used to decorate a table or buffet.

Herbs are highly attractive when grouped en masse using five or more planters arranged tightly together or sparingly dispersed around the table, such as place holders.

Potted plants have always provided to me an aesthetic feeling of ‘warmth’ for any gathering and when incorporated into a tablescape or the surrounding area makes the area more intimate. Greenery ‘tightens’ a space, bringing a sense of fullness to it. Express your creativity by mixing plant varieties, heights and shapes, container types (wood, terra cotta, & stone), and their placement.

Incorporate potted plants as you see fit, as there is no right or wrong way. In my opinion can never have too many plants to ‘warm the area’, so enjoy yourself and have fun creating a luscious potted plant tablescape for Thanksgiving or any day!

These are my personal plant favorites, or my top five potted pots to use for Thanksgiving holiday tablescapes.

ORCHIDS — Orchids tend to last longer than most other blooming plants, and though there are many misconceptions, they are extremely easy to care for after the holiday festivities have subsided. They are beautiful, and inexpensive plants with numerous color palettes that can fit into most any color scheme.

SUCCULENTS & CACTI — There are quite literally hundreds of varieties to choose from as decoration for Thanksgiving. Depending on your style and preference, the plants’ color range is limitless and can accentuate a home’s décor and tablescape. Cacti and succulents are stunning in a kaleidoscope of colors which flourish when kept in bright light, though can be kept in low light conditions for short periods of time, then move them to an area which has bright light and provide infrequent watering … what’s not to enjoy?

NORFOLK ISLAND PINE TREE — Is not actually a pine tree but a relative of the monkey puzzle tree that can grow up to 200 feet outdoors (USDA zones 10-11). Indoors, it is constrained to reaching a much more manageable height of 3 to 8 feet tall or can be trained as a bonsai. The tree needs a substantial amount of light to truly thrive but makes a dramatic centerpiece or focal point.

After Thanksgiving, move it to an area which receives bright light for a few weeks before repurposing the tree during the Christmas holiday by decorating the tree with colorful with ribbons and ornaments! We have several trees of varying heights strategically placed around our home which are wonderful additions.

PHILODENDRON — There are hundreds of species of this beautiful type of foliage plant, and their leaves are most notably large, green, and glossy. Newer varieties have colors ranging from pink, white, red, and orange. These plants are great for providing a bit of “native tropical flair.” Popular houseplants which are known for their easy growing habits: non-climbing & vining characteristics. The vining varieties can grow several feet and normally require support structures, whereas non-climbing types can grow upright and make excellent container plants.

Both types of philodendrons are known to have fast growth rates. Utilizing a vining plant to surround the base of a plant with an upright growth habit creates an impressive display. Plants require moderate to bright light but can withstand low light levels for a short amount of time.

BROMELIAD — A beautiful plant in numerous varieties which are well-suited to many decors and styles. Plants can have beautiful blooms which last many weeks with vibrant colors, such as orange, yellow, red, and pink. They are somewhat drought tolerant in case you are ‘forgetful’ at watering. They look amazing when arranged into groups, adding color and energy into rooms.

Potted Plant placement tips:

Make certain plants don’t get in the way of the meal & don’t block guests’ line of sight while seated-it will drive them nuts!

  • Allow plants to ‘fill the space’ for an intimate meal with family and friends.
  • Metal trays, wood planks, stone slabs have an earthy ‘feel’ and allow for quick relocation if necessary.
  • Mix heights, colors, and textures & group plants which are in different ‘bloom’ stages.
  • Establish a ‘finished’ look by adding small gravel, Spanish moss, or bark to ‘top-off’ pots.
  • Place plants in plastic pots into a secondary planter or cover with burlap, then ‘top-off’.
  • Add whimsy use a ‘clever’ planter for fun.

So long for now fellow gardeners. Let’s go out and grow ourselves a greener, more sustainable world, one plant at a time!

Thank you for sending me your questions and please continue sending comments and questions to jongreene57@gmail.com.