Succulents are perfect for decorating for the holidays. Their flower-like forms and resilient nature make them ideal for indoor crafts. Decorate your home with living succulents for the holidays, then plant them and grow them on through the spring! I have done several succulent DIYs for Christmas like these wood slice succulent ornaments, and these, and these and these – oh, and these! 🙂 Then, one day, my sweet friend Cheryl Peskin Walters asked me to make something with succulents to celebrate Hanukkah. She suggested that I try a DIY menorah or a hanukkiah – the 9-branched lamp designed for celebrating the Festival of Lights.
DIY Menorah with Succulents
The hanukkiah has 8 candles, one for each night of Hanukkah. The ninth candle is called the “shamash” and is used to light the other 8. Cheryl explained that while a traditional menorah holds all nine candles in a row, with the shamash in the center, menorahs are made in many, different creative ways. The key was to set the shamash apart from the 8 mitzvah candles — those specifically related to the miracle of Hanukkah. We brainstormed different ideas and came up with a tree branch drilled to hold the candles, with succulents attached, natch. I hope she’ll like it! Cheryl – this post is for you! Let me show you exactly how I made this DIY menorah succulent branch.
Supplies for DIY Menorah
To make this succulent branch, you’ll need a tree branch. Look for fall trimmings or fallen branches. I went through several before finding a forked branch that suited my idea. Cut it down to size. For this DIY menorah, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Tree branch
- Hannukah candles
- Power drill
- 2 Drill bits – 1 the size of the candle base, 1 for pilot holes
- Natural moss — I used this reindeer moss
- Hot glue gun with glue sticks (for this project, I recommend a high-temp gun)
Drill Branch for Hanukkah Candles
Clean the tree branch and make sure it is stable when it lays down. It will hold lit candles, so you don’t want it wobbling. I wanted a branch that would hold 8 Hanukkah candles, with a fork that would support the shamash candle apart from them.
Choose your Hanukkah candles and base your drill bit choice on them. The candles I chose fit perfectly into a hole drilled with a 21/64″ drill bit. Because I chose a slender branch, I first used a much smaller drill bit to drill pilot holes, so I wouldn’t risk cracking or breaking my branch. Use the pen to mark the position along the branch for your candle holes. I wanted them roughly equidistant, but I didn’t measure it super closely. Take care to drill each hole so it faces directly up and down when the branch is laying in the position you’ll use it. That way, the candles will be straight. If your holes are a bit big, a small bit of putty in the holes will hold the candles straight.
Choosing Succulents for Menorah
Mountain Crest Gardens generously sponsored this DIY menorah. I wanted a natural and elegant look for the menorah, so I requested Echeveria ‘Lola’. The perfection of form and the delicate, opalescent coloring is exquisite. I wanted to use a few different rosettes, with some very small rosettes. They sent me Sempervivum ‘Jade’ and Chick Charms Sempervivum ‘Appletini’ full over little chicks – perfect! I wanted to keep the color pallet subdued, to rely more on form and texture for interest, rather than color. I knew I wanted to work with Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’ but I also asked them to surprise me with additional texture. Their plants are always fantastic quality!
Prepare Succulents for DIY Menorah
For a slim branch loike this, smaller, 2-inch succulents work best. Prepare all your succulents prior to attaching them. You may find you have prepared too many — as I did — but you can always root the succulent cuttings to grow them. I need to see the succulent pieces laid out along the branch where I intend to use them to get the design straight in my mind. Even then, the design changes and can surprise me!
Cut the roots off the echeveria and sempervivum rosettes. Brush away all the loose soil, and gently tweeze away any dead or dying leaves.
Attaching the Succulents to the Branch.
Apply hot glue to the back of the rosette, then add a trace of dried moss and a bit more hot glue. Position it on the branch, and press firmly into place. The hot glue will not hurt the succulents a bit. Their skin has evolved to protect their precious stores of water from the drying sun and wind. The glue will hurt you — so be careful! The moss is decorative, I like to have just a bit showing — I love the look. But the purpose of the moss is to collect water and hold it for the succulents. They will root into the moss and grow there until you replant them.
You can use any type of natural moss for the succulents to root into. For this project, I love the delicate, lacy look of reindeer moss. The natural, cream color suited my vision for the succulent branch, but there are many colors to choose from. You could even lightly spray paint it with silver for a decorative effect perfect for Hanukkah.
Add More Succulents! 🙂
When in doubt, add more succulents! That is my usual motto, but for this DIY menorah, I was striving for an elegant look that would enhance the graceful lines of the branch. I wanted a natural, woody look, so I was careful with my layout. Echeveria ‘Lola’ was my most important rosette. I laid them out first. I had intended to use the burgundy-tipped rosettes of Sempervivum ‘Appletini‘, but somehow, they looked a little busy to me. The Sempervivum ‘Jade’ has a wonderful, sculptural quality to it. I took the tips of the Crassula rupestris Mountain Crest Gardens sent me, and used them as a small, angular rosette. Remember that you want the menorah to be attractive from all sides, so keep turning your branch as you apply the succulents.
I had intended to keep the color pallet very quiet and was surprised by the vivid burgundy Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Mini Me‘ they sent. Surprised and delighted — they make a small, colorful accent that I think it just perfect. Each cutting on the succulent branch has its own bitt of reindeer moss, for rooting into. Some succulents are solitary, some are clustered. Find an arrangement that is pleasing to you. Just because I like a subdued color pallet for this is no reason you should. Experiment!
After all the other succulents were attached, I added small tassels of Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’. I wanted them to drip down for a touch of glamour.
Adding Candles to the Succulent Branch
I used simple, white Hanukka candles for my DIY menorah. I thought they went well with the natural look I was going for. The traditional colors of Hanukkah are silver and blue. You might paint the branch white or metallic silver and use blue candles. I love these blue ombre menorah candles and flirted with using them. In the end, I like the simplicity of the succulent branch exactly as it turned out. What do you think?
It’s difficult to see the entire menorah succulent branch, so here are a few closeups.
I love the hint of color from the Sedum rubrotinctum, the burgundy cluster that looks like berries on the left.
And I think the Senecio ‘String of Pearls’ does add a touch of glamour, don’t you?
Care for your succulent branch menorah by spritzing the plants with water every 3-4 days. The plants will live well for months. Remove them from the branch and plant them in the garden so they grow until the next holiday! 🙂
My thanks to Mountain Crest Gardens for their gorgeous succulents! And special thanks to Cheryl for the inspiration and encouragement to make this menorah! <3
Whether you’re Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights, or a friend or family member is, this succulent branch makes a lovely DIY menorah. Wouldn’t this be a great gift? And if you’re not Jewish, you could use the same technique for a candelabra. Will you try it? I would love to know what you think! Please take a moment to leave me a comment and let me know!
‘Til next time,
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and have a Blessed Holiday Season!
P.S. For more DIYs and succulent care information, please subscribe to The Succulent Eclectic. You’ll receive my FREE e-course 7 Steps to Succulent Success!