Think of centerpieces or greenery, and perhaps cut flowers come to mind. But these days, those looking for a more organic look are instead opting for alternatives such as succulents, moss, grass and even branches. In many instances, these selections are not only modern and fresh, but also low maintenance as well.

Artificial vs. the real thing

Typically nothing beats freshly cut stems as far as look, appearance and fragrance go, but they come with maintenance needs. When it comes to succulents especially, it can be difficult to distinguish artificial stems from those that are real. If you are looking to incorporate artificial stems, one designer trick is to embed your artificial stems in real moss. While the color of the moss may slightly fade over time, your overall presentation will remain fresh and realistic.

Here are some overall design recipes tips relating to incorporating organic elements into your home.


Mix succulents of different sizes, colors and shapes into a single, large arrangement. Large round vessels or rectangular work well. Whether using artificial succulents or the real thing, line your vessel both on the bottom and along the sides for a realistic look.

Use pieces of moss by themselves in small vessels or large moss-covered decorative elements in larger containers to display.

Mix materials such as succulents or organic elements with sand or river stones.

Use elements from nature such as branches and stones.

Consider using vessels of different sizes, shapes and heights to add interest.


Use real grasses in an arrangement unless you can water and maintain them. They will quickly turn brown and wilt without water.

Use colored moss. Bright colors tend to appear unrealistic and trendy. Green is suitable for a modern look.

Forget to include all areas of the home when creating your arrangements. Kitchens, bathrooms and entries shouldn’t be overlooked.

Forget that your selection of a pot or vessel makes a decorative statement too. In general, vessels that are not transparent work best.

Worry about mixing in a bit of color with your arrangements. Some choices may include cactus, blooms, gourds and even fruits.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at

Read or Share this story: