Unique DIY Christmas Gifts for the Plant Lover
Suiseki: Build Miniature Zen Landscapes
For an utterly unique DIY Christmas gift, create a Japanese suiseki (水石). These miniature rock-scapes suggest wild scenery, and are a classical art-form in Japan.
Traditionally, suiseki are paired with bonsai and displayed in the tokonoma, a space in the Japanese home for art objects.
Suiseki will go nicely with minimalist décor. They also offer a calming focus for meditation.
- A piece of natural rock
- A shallow display tray
- Substrate such as pebbles or sand
- Decorative material like moss and lichen
Step one: Select a rock
The focal point of suiseki is a piece of natural rock. The idea is to build a convincing miniature landscape around the shape, textures, and colours of the mineral.
Walk along a riverbank or beach to find your perfect suiseki centrepiece. Or you can add a modern twist with a large quartz rock.
Step two: Select a container
Traditionally, suiseki are displayed in shallow trays (suiban) or on a suki-dai, a wooden pedastal carved to match the outline of the rock.
Search for ‘suiban’ on eBay or other second-hand outlets for a spectacular range of purpose-built suiseki containers. Vintage food and drink trays can also work.
Your container choice will depend on the feel of your rock. It should be subtle, and never overpower the central display.
In terms of size, you want some empty space around the rock but not too much. The container should be around twice the size of your rock.
Step three: Select decorative stones
Choose a decorative substate to fill the space around the rock.
Traditional suiseki feature muted natural colours. For a classic look, use white marble pebbles, red lava pebbles, sand, or polished stones. Southside’s Orchid Bark would nicely juxtapose against the rock. You could also use coloured glass pebbles.
Step four: Arranging your suiseki
Look at the shape and texture of your rock. Ask yourself what kind of natural scenery it suggests. A rocky outcrop? A waterfall? A mountain? A sweeping plain? A lake?
Place the rock in the center or the sides of your container. The position of your rock will depend on the scene you’re going for.
Fill the empty space around the rock with your chosen substrate.
Step five: Decorating your suiseki
Now you can add final touches to your miniature landscape. Perhaps your miniature mountain needs a moss ‘forest’ along its slopes or a scattering of white sand to resemble snowy hill-tops. Keep the decoration minimal – the landscape should suggest itself from the natural features of the rock.
DIY Airplant Dreamcatcher
A DIY dream catcher makes for a practical and stunning air-plant display. You can slot your air plants into the webbing. Follow this video guide on making one. https://youtu.be/Vmtkc7FOWLw
Air plants are extremely easy to care for, so this is the ideal Christmas gift for a beginner indoor gardener.
Complete your homemade air plant dream-catcher with our Air Plant Weekly Fertilizing Spray.
Propagate baby plants for Christmas with Keiki paste
Most plants only propagate during the summer growing season but with Keiki paste, you can grow cuttings all year-round.
You’ll need :
- A jar or shallow container
- Plant cuttings
- A needle or pin
Step one: Take cuttings
Cut a healthy leaf or stem cutting from one of your houseplants.
For stem cuttings, cut just below a node.
Here, I’ve taken a leaf from a Pachyphytum succulent, and stem cuttings from a Monstera Adansonii and a Crassula marginalis rubra Variegata.
Step two: Apply the Keiki paste
Dab a tiny amount of Keiki paste onto the ends of the stems or leaves.
Step 3: Place cuttings into the propagating container
Fill a container ¾ with water. Cover the container with cellophane. Poke tiny holes in the cellophane and push the stems or leaves through so they sit above the water.
Step four: Wait
Leave the container in a sunny spot and wait for new roots to grow. This will take two weeks or more.
Step five: Plant rooted cuttings
Once you see roots and tiny plantlets at the bottom of your cuttings, it’s time to plant them.
Gently remove the stems or leaves from the container. Careful not to damage the new growth.
Plant the cuttings in a mixture of 2:1 coarse sand or horticultural grit to soil. This mixture will help the roots develop.
You can keep succulents in this sandy mixture. For tropical plants like Monstera, re-pot once the roots are well developed into a moister organic soil without grit or sand.
Pressed flower bookmarks
These botanical bookmarks make perfect DIY Christmas gift for book and plant lovers.
- Adhesive laminate sheets
- Flower or plant cuttings
- Watercolour paper
- Books to press the flowers
Step one: Press your flowers
Cut completely dry flowers or leaves to size. Choose flowers and leaves that are quite delicate and thin. Place them between 2 sheets of parchment paper or coffee filters to absorb any remaining moisture.
Put the sheets in the middle of a heavy book. Stack more books or heavy objects on top to place pressure on the flowers.
Wait 1 to 2 weeks.
Step two: Cut the bookmark
Cut a bookmark out of watercolour paper of around 5 cm x 8.5 cm
Step three: Arrange the flowers
Arrange the dried flowers onto the watercolour paper. Glue them down onto the card with white PVC glue.
Step four: Laminate the bookmark
Cut a piece of adhesive laminate slightly bigger than your card. Place the centre of the adhesive laminate onto the flower side of your bookmark. Carefully fold the laminate down around the back of the bookmark.
Bespoke ceramic planters
Not quite DIY, but close enough. These US ceramic artists have been hand-selected by the Southside team for their small-batch planters.
Support the creative community by filling your Christmas with beauty.
Helen Levi, New York City
Helen’s multi-coloured ceramic planters evokes the warmth of summer
Brooke T. Winfrey, Los Angeles
Brooke’s muted planters will suit clean modern décor
Curt Hammerly, Broomfield Colorado
Curt’s deep colours will set off bold tropical plants
John Sheppard, New York City
Show off luscious tropical foliage in John’s striking geometric pots