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Living Centerpiece with Orchids and Ferns

How to make a living centerpiece with Orchids and Ferns for a long-lasting tabletop garden.

In recent years, I have really grown to appreciate Orchids. If you chose one correctly, you could have flowers for months! In fact, I find myself purchasing one every 6 months for long-lasting flowers on my mantel.

In addition to the orchid on our mantel, I like having fresh flowers on our dining room table but buying fresh flowers every week can become costly. So, I decided to use the stalwart Orchid and combine it with another long-lived indoor plant, ferns, for a long-lasting, living centerpiece.

A crystal bowl with orchids and ferns.

While these two plants look beautiful together, they have different water needs. To accommodate that, I separated the orchid from the soil that would hold the ferns. This way I can control the water that each receives.

Finished tabletop garden on dining room table

What You Need For a Living Centerpiece:

  • Bowl I found this one at a local consignment store. It’s a great size in diameter, but I wish it had more height. I am going to keep my eyes open for a taller, urn style, and transfer the plants when I do find it. Or…I would give this one to my mom and make a new one!Empty Bowl for Tabletop Garden
  • Plants Any indoor plants will work. I would’ve loved to have some trailing ivy, but with my cat Peep who eats anything and everything, I avoided plants that might be toxic to cats and ivy is on that list. You can see that list here. Seems ferns are safe to cats, so I purchased 3 varieties of ferns (one is maidenhair fern, one is a holly fern and I don’t know what the other is) and a small orchid. I am all about odd numbers of things…but I really spent way too much over-thinking if I should have an odd or even number of ferns or plants in total! I opted for an odd number of ferns and I’ll probably lose sleep over that decision. 😂 But heck if it really bugs me, I’ll just add another plant!
  • Pebbles
  • Dirt (you can opt to put your plants in the dirt or keep them in their pots and just ‘cover’ them up with moss. I opted to actually plant them. I made this garden 5 months ago and they are thriving, for what that’s worth.)
  • Moss
  • Small container for the orchid to sit in that is shorter than your bowl. Worst comes to worst, you can always cut the small container down if it is plastic.
  • Of course, what is a garden without ‘lawn art’? I’m using this little bunny for a touch of whimsy in my garden.
Focus on bunny in living centerpiece

Making Tabletop Garden:

  • Add pebbles to your large bowl, with some smaller ones to the little container that will hold your orchid. Make a spot in your large bowl to hold the smaller bowl.Pebbles in bottom of bowl and bottom of plastic container
  • Line the sides of your bowl with moss.
Add a layer of moss around the side of the bowl as a starting point for the tabletop garden
  • Add your ferns where you want them, filling in with dirt around the plants
Three ferns in bowl, with dirt and moss
  • Add your orchid to the smaller container, filling it with dirt around it.
Placing Orchid in Plastic Container in Living Centerpiece
  • Cover the rim of the orchid ‘bowl’ and with moss, as well as other areas as desired.
Add moss once plants are planted
  • Add your ‘lawn art’!
Place bunny in finished living centerpiece

Caring for your Tabletop Garden:

Ferns need more water than orchids. I find that putting one ice cube in with the orchid and actually watering the ferns each week provides just the right amount of water for each. Carefully water the ferns so that water doesn’t run into the orchid cup. As I said, this living centerpiece has been going strong since March!

Update after 18 months: I lost one fern before I realized that I had been overwatering. When I pulled out the dead fern, I realized that there was a good deal of standing water in the bottom of the bowl. I replanted a fern 6 months ago and began using a water meter. I only add more water to the bowl if the water meter shows that the soil is dry and the ferns are thriving.

I know that I should get about six months out of the orchid, and it will be easy to replace when its time is up. (I’m still trying to get my orchids to rebloom…that’s a whole ‘nother story. I’ll let you know when I do, but I would welcome any tips you might have to help me in that endeavor!)

Focus on Orchid in finished tabletop garden

To refer back to these tips for planting a living centerpiece, bookmark this page or pin the following image.

pin showing the plants used in a living centerpiece and the finished tabletop garden.

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  1. I love this! And I have the perfect place to put one. Now to find the perfect bowl. Used to have one, gave it away because I never used it😏
    Thanks Lynn💗

    1. ARgh! Don’t you hate it when that happens! Well, just check out the consignments shops, goodwill, etc… I’m sure you will find one that someone else donates because they didn’t use it! 😂

  2. Gorgeous! I accidentally killed my orchid when I tried to trim it to get it to bloom again but I think I need to get another one to try this.

  3. This is lovely Lynn! I have a crystal bowl that is very similar to the one you used, and it sits tucked away in a cabinet. This will be a great way to put it to use!

  4. Depending on the bowl (if see-thru or not) you could add colored stones/potting stones to the sides and top instead of moss.
    It would add to the cost but would make it special for that pink bedroom or blue sewing room!

    1. Hi Joy

      What a great idea! There are so many ways to ‘customize’ the planter. If you do make it with colored stones, please take a picture and share it with me!



  5. Instead of separating the ferns from the Orchid plants, you could have used pieces of “fern bark” cut to the shape of the bowl, placed the plants strategically, then filled the holes with sphagnum moss, or coconut coir and “dress” the top with rounded pebbles. The orchid and the ferns would welcome the same amount of watering, since the fern bark retains water beautifully – water or mist maybe once a week.

    1. Hi Lyn,

      Thanks so much for that suggestion about fern bark! I am not familiar with that medium, but will look it up. My little fern and orchid garden was relagated to my bathroom during the holidays, but I’m ready to bring it back out and give it some TLC.

      Again, thanks for sharing you tips. Sounds like you’ve done this a few times!

      Hugs, Lynn

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