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Inexpensive fall centerpieces bloom with beauty


Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185

Photo available for this release:

Kim Martin of Tiger Garden shows a fall centerpiece made for less than $10 from weeds, leaves and greenery gathered from her backyard. By comparison, the centerpiece on the left retails for about $50.

Credit: Photo by Linda Geist

Published: Monday, Sept. 30, 2013

Story source:

Kim Martin, 573-884-1191

COLUMBIA, Mo. –Look no further than your back yard for inexpensive fall centerpieces.

That’s the advice from Kim Martin, manager of Tiger Garden, the student-run floral shop on the University of Missouri campus. The shop celebrated its grand re-opening recently with special events and workshops.

Interesting looking weeds, vines, leaves and plants can make attractive and economical arrangements for a fraction of retail costs, Martin said.

A vase can be purchased for $2 or less, or vases from garage sales can be repurposed. Chicken wire is one of the cheapest, simplest and best ways to keep flowers from shifting in the base. A small piece of chicken wire can be cut and taped with florist’s tape or any other sturdy tape. About 50 cents of burlap ribbon placed snugly around the vase with glue dots available from local craft stores can create an attractive holder. “In the floral world, we’re all about the tricks,” she said.

Start by filling the container with greenery gathered from the yard to create a sturdy foundation. Martin recommends grouping items such as dusty miller, coleus, ivy, tree leaves, plumed fescue-type grasses and woody shrubs. Cut the ends with kitchen knife or scissors and strip foliage from the bottom part of the stem. Make sure the stem is long enough to reach water in the vase.

If you don’t have annual favorites such as zinnias, marigolds, dahlias or cockscomb to choose from, buy stems of flowers at local grocers, florists and discount stores for approximately $5.

She recommends making fabric flowers from wired ribbon or buying silk or straw flowers and adding colored ribbon to give arrangements a pop of color.

Locally grown flowers are preferred over imported flowers in some situations, Martin said. In the flower world, “locally grown” means in the continental U.S. More than 75 percent of all flowers are imported from other countries, and many stores’ flower inventory is 95 percent imported, she said.

Imported flowers leave a greater carbon footprint because of the fuel and labor required to transport them to the U.S. Additionally, because imported flowers may spend anywhere from a few days to two weeks in transit, they may not last as long.

Tiger Garden offers the following classes:

  • Oct. 2: Tiger-ize Your Door!
  • Oct. 24: Build Your Own Terrarium
  • Nov. 20: Impress Your Thanksgiving Guests!
  • Feb. 26: Warm up with a Spring Wreath!
  • March 19: Lettuce Help You! (a lettuce garden)
  • April 30: Spice up Your Kitchen with a Salsa Garden

Register online at, or call 573-884-1191 for more information.

Tiger Garden, which opened in 2005, is operated by the Division of Plant Sciences in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. It’s primarily run by MU students, providing hands-on learning in an entrepreneurial environment. Student employees experience what it’s like to run a small business and solve the unexpected challenges associated with daily business operations.