entertainingflowers a-zFood & Drinkoutdoorsarah from blossom and branch

flowers a-z: “e” is for echeveria, eryngium and eustoma

by SarahB

Welcome back, Alphabet Florists! Just to mix it up a bit, I thought I would feature three different “e” flowers this week: echeveria (succulents), eryngium (thistle) and eustoma (lisianthus). Now, I grant you, I am bending the rules ever so slightly by using the Latin names for these relatively common blooms and plants and highlighting multiple elements in one post. But the beautiful thing is that this allows us to create a whole tablescape! First, I will spend a brief moment with each individual “e” and then on to a little “how-to,” incorporating each of them. — Sarah

Echeveria (succulents)
Succulents in the echeveria genus are native to a region from Mexico to northwestern South America. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors and can survive in many climates, although they do best in dry, even drought-prone soil. As a cut plant, they are wonderful for creating spare and unusual tablescapes or even for “planting” in a terrarium. For a quick decorative accent, just place a few succulents in a simple, clear glass bowl. You can add soil and “plant” them in the bowl, and add a tuft of reindeer moss or anything that strikes your fancy. In this post, I simply selected a range of colors and shapes and placed them artfully on a ceramic tray.

Eryngium (thistle)
You may have seen me use thistle a few times here in my postings. I find it so interesting and versatile and particularly appropriate as we approach the winter months. It feels somehow like a flower that might grow in snowy Narnia! Although many people think of thistle as being unique to Scotland, some form of it can be found in just about every region of the globe. It ranges in hue from silvery gray to bright blue, and despite its “unfriendly” appearance, some species are even utilized as a vegetable! Apparently the roots and leaves of certain varieties are edible . . . BUT please do not try this at home :)

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post after the jump!

You can snip off the buds from the thistle and use them as “garnish” on a tray, as decor on a folded napkin or anywhere that suits you.

Eustoma (lisianthus)
OK, so nobody calls lisianthus “eustoma” and some people don’t even call it lisianthus — I have heard it called “Texas Bells” quite frequently. It does grow in abundance in the southern United States, as well as Mexico, northern countries in South America and the Caribbean. This is another all-purpose flower that I have used several times in prior posts; it is relatively inexpensive, lasts well and creates a lovely silhouette with its delicate bloom and wild shoots.

With a modern tablescape in mind, I placed the lisianthus and the thistle in bright, funky vases.

“Color-Blocked” Arrangement for a Modern Tablescape
As above, I chose a vase with a mid-century feel for this arrangement. I gathered a cluster of greens with dark berries to use in one “block” of the arrangement.  I cut the stems short so that the greens sit just above the neck of the vase and then moved on to the next flower.

I selected some dianthus “grass” to offset the draping greens with a more compact texture. This arrangement and this tablescape are primarily about creating visual interest with unusual textures. I wanted to juxtapose varying shapes and patterns more than focusing on color.

And just like that, we have something taking shape! You do not need to get specialty greens or flowers for this. The idea is to use something more “flowy” or draping next to something more round and compact. I also like the “spiky” greens next to the “soft” look of the dianthus. Substitute whatever is available, and have fun playing with texture.

Here is where the “color-blocking” comes in. Add a bright shock of purple lisianthus for your next section. Cluster the blooms so they really stand out. You can even give some of the tendrils a “haircut” if you feel they are distracting from your lisianthus section.

And how about some thistle for the final section? Yet another unique texture . . . careful, it can be a tad sharp!

Now you can start to play with the various elements on the table. Add the tray of succulents, group the vases and place some vases on a tray with thistle “garnish.”

How about lining them up down the center of the table?

I added a white vase of strange greens that are sometimes referred to as “Croc Fern.” I call it “space grass,” but I know that is not likely its formal moniker :) I love its ruffled texture. Substitute any fern here.

Tablescapes can be great fun if you allow yourself to experiment with different elements. My favorite thing to do is mix and match pieces I already own — vases, trays, candles, etc. — and simply add a few fresh things.

Stay tuned until next time when “f” will be for . . .

Suggested For You


  • huge fan of the succulents in arrangements. these are so lovely, elegant and rugged at the same time.

  • Thank you for sharing these great flowers! I would never
    had known about so many of these, had it not been for D*S. Makes me
    wanna get out there and take a floral arrangment class :)

  • I love Echeveria, because let’s face it they’re just not
    very likely to die on you…definitely one of the few that are
    still standing in my little studio… And thistles, well they are
    just weird and pretty and can make gorgeous contrasts… Love,

  • Is there anything more beautiful than succulents? I just
    can’t think of what that might be! LOVE them. Question: How long
    will they stay alive in that tray without soil beneath

  • Wow, great “E” post with latin names. Love the color
    blocking arrangement! Wondering what you will pick for

  • These are some of my absolute favorites! I have a succulent garden that I extend to the outdoors in the summer months and I just love it! I was even inspired to create a pair of earrings after these lovely little plants: http://etsy.me/fOKl10
    Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos!

  • I missed these posts; they’re some of my favorites! I love how you incorporate the not-too-typical and extremely colorful flowers (of course, I love those too, but these don’t get enough recognition).

  • When you say “plant” the succulents in a terrarium, or as
    you did here, on a plate–will they keep living or do they have to
    be rooted in soil? How often should one water them? Or just mist
    them?? I love them and want to give them a try–are these that
    you’ve shown any particular type? Thanks!

  • ohm y god, does this post brighten up an ugly day here in Pa! I love these colors, they are almost unnatural and jarring this time of year!

  • i have had a photo on my phone of those texas bells forever! i took it when i found the flowers in an ordinary bunch of flowers i was given and just loved them! thanks so much for giving the flower a name!!

  • The colours and shades of green in these arrangements are just gorgeous. And that deep purple is to die for.

    These a-z flowers posts are really great, thanks so much!

  • @JillSimpson: The succulents here are simply a wide variety obtained from a flower and plant vendor. The cultivars have names like roses “Black Prince,” “Blue Heron,” Lipstick Red,” etc. Many flower shops can order you a full box with a range of plants from which to choose.

    “Planting” them in this case means simply setting them on top of soil (they are sold already cut from the roots). They can last a few weeks this way. If you buy the plants, treat them like a cactus…minimal water and dry soil.

    Have fun!

  • Succulents come in the best muted tones and they are so sturdy! Awesome post. We love using them in bold square and rectangular wreaths hung from rugged rope for our clients’ event decor pieces. Yum.

  • Truly wonderful! I’ve considered the various echevaria great garden plants, but haven’t thought to cut and bring them inside, until now. Please tell me more about the dianthus “grass” furry looking bright green puff balls. I only know dianthus as carnations or pinks. What variety is this? Thank you for an inspiring post.

  • Beautiful! Succulents are also indigenous to South Africa. They are amazing, they just grow so easily and without much water needed :) Happy plants

  • Croc fern!!! I work at a florist and my boss always calls them “Lasagna Leaf”! Thanks for finally teaching me their real name

  • Lovely way to start the month of February! With B&B and the Letter E.

  • I love how you have taken several flowers/plants by there “real” names and taught us a little about each. Succulents, thistle & lisianthus…who knew they all started with “E”?! LOVE!

  • Eryngium ≠ thistle! they look very similar, but eryngium belongs to the family Apiaceae, while thistles generally fall under Asteraceae. Coastal (and even grassland) species of eryngium are commonly known as sea holly.