Decorating with fresh cut greens

Philodendron leaves in a vase, photo

Years ago, when I embarked upon my quest to discover the types of flowers that last the longest in a vase, I also discovered that some fresh cut greens look just as beautiful as flowers and last even longer. A lot longer.

Case in point: The photo below of philodendron leaves (cut from one of the plants in the Sunset office) in the stone vase appeared in the June 2007 issue of Sunset magazine. Rob Brodman shot that image in the Sunset studio March 28, 2007 (I added the beige background).

Philadenron leaves, day 1 photo
Philodenron leaves, day 97 photo

The branches were still alive and beautiful in a vase in my apartment three months later. I took the picture on the right July 3, 2007. I don’t remember exactly how much longer they lasted after that, but it was about another month before I tossed them out.

The Sunset garden editors told me that I could get the philodendron leaves to root with not much effort. The idea of growing cuttings from established plants was an enticing idea, but I never did try it.

Have you had success rooting philodendron leaves?

That got me thinking: Philodendron leaves are awesome, but what other cut branches and leaves last a long time?

I found a bunch (pardon the pun). Vase fillers and fresh cut greenery can be lovely all by themselves, are more budget friendly than flowers, and can last for months.

This vase filler is beautiful in its own right. An Apartment Therapy reader identified it as Israeli Ruscus or Ruscus hypophyllum. She wrote: “It’s a common filler in floral arrangements because it can last for ages after being cut. Stems cut in December can be used in arrangements as long as five months later.”

Other types of cut greens equal the longevity of vase fillers. Monstera, for example, can last several weeks, and they’re gorgeously structural. Just one leaf makes a pleasing “arrangement.” (And if you can’t find the real thing, an imitation Monstera cutting can be just as striking.)

Eucalyptus is beautiful all by itself too. And it can last a few weeks to a few years in a vase. Here are some tips to make your eucalyptus cuttings last as long as possible.

Lady’s mantle is one of Catherine Mix’s preferred long-lasting blooms. I guess it’s not technically considered greenery because it’s flowering, but it looks more like greenery than a floral bouquet to me. Lady’s mantle is used as a vase filler, but I think it fills out a vase nicely without help.

Sheila Zeller clipped a few leaves from her anthurium plant and put them in a vase. She wrote, “They make a nice impact without a lot of fuss!” I agree, Sheila. She doesn’t say how long they lasted in a vase, but I’d be willing to bet they last as long as the monstera.

My family had olive trees in our backyard when I was growing up. It never occurred to me as a child to cut a branch and put it in a vase, so I have no idea how long olive branches last as cuttings. But this was too pretty not to include. This arrangement is by Natalie Bowen Designs. Perhaps following these tips for how to keep cut branches fresh will keep them going strong for weeks.

These beauties live in photographer Jeremy Harwell’s studio, as seen on Decor8. They look like some type of fan palm. Can you identify them? I’d be curious to know how long those last too. But they’re beautiful while they last.

This was spotted in a blog post about a tiled kitchen at Remodelista. I also don’t know how long snow berry branch cuttings last, but they make an unexpected arrangement.

If I’m not mistaken, those giant leaves are from an elephant ear plant. And they can grow to be much bigger. These were used to decorate a beach house at Southern Living. Elephant ear plants make a statement indoors or out. (Also interesting in that photo: a collection of gourds and starfish.)

And last, but certainly not least, this gigantic succulent in Cassandra Karinsky’s Sydney home at The Design Files is impressive. It’s surviving — and seems to be thriving, judging by the roots it has sprouted — in a glass vase. I’m not surprised. I don’t have a green thumb, but I’ve successfully grown succulents from cuttings. But nothing this big. Can you identify this plant?

That’s all I’ve got. Do you have favorite go-to greenery cuttings that last a long time? Please share in the comments.

My first DIY projects appeared in Sunset magazine’s now defunct blog, Home By Sunset. This post is part two of an updated version of “Long-lasting cut flowers, part 1-2,” originally published July 9, 2007 & November 15, 2007.

Crafty Nest long lasting cut greens Pinterest image

Share this story

Reader Gallery

Do you have favorite cut greenery? Share a comment below and/or email your photo(s) to monica (at) craftynest (dot) com, and I’ll share them here!