When you think of centerpieces or greenery, 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 low-maintenance, as well.

Artificial vs. the real thing

Typically, nothing beats freshly cut stems as far as look, appearance and fragrance go, but those 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 fade slightly over time, your overall presentation will remain fresh and realistic.

Here are some design tips for incorporating organic elements into your home.


• Mix succulents of different sizes, colors and shapes into a single, large arrangement. Large round vessels or rectangular ones 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 a TV host and interior design and home-staging expert.