Manzanita Madness!

17 Apr

Placing a centerpiece on a big table can be daunting– What size?  How tall?  How many??  I took to my google search skills and found Manzanita branch centerpiece.  The branches offered height and a bit of mystique, and still allowed guests to see through the piece to converse.    This was my answer to all my questions…

Manzanita madness, I have it.

After a little research, I ordered from Nettleton Hollow, but also looked at Save-on-Crafts.  Both have great options, different sizes, and color options.  I decided on the 24″ – 36″ sized branches because my tables are approximately 8′ diameter and seat about 8-10 people.  The cost per branch was about $10 after shipping costs and everything added.

Deciding on how large of branch, I decided I needed something that would be substantial enough to fill the space, and not be overpowering.  Blooms and Branches had a handy guide to measuring Manzanita branches that might help in your selection:

After the huge box arrived, I carefully lifted each piece out– they tend to get caught together, so be careful!!  Being a natural product, each branch is unique and has its own quirks.  Best part is that you can trim whatever does not agree with you.

I decided on Terra Cotta pots because the price ($1.47/pot) and the availability of sizes.  I spray painted them white (first with a cheaper spray paint that I used as a primer, and then with a more expensive gloss spray paint) to match the decor of the party.

Now time for the creation!  I bought stones from the store to set in the bottom of the pots to add some leverage against tipping over.  If using the clay pots and painting them, you need to make sure the rocks are dry or the it will make your paint bubble.

Next I put duct tape to plug the hole at the bottom of the pots.  I shoveled in the rocks (a little at first, placed the branch to secure, then added more rocks on top).

Then I had the options of how to set the Manzanita branches in the pots.  One is to use plaster of paris, but after finding out that one little package is about $8, I needed a better option when I was making 12!  Also, the prep and time involved in mixing plaster, pouring, and setting it was a little daunting.  I decided on expanding foam (about $3.50/can).  For all 12 centerpieces, I used only 3 cans (mostly because I over did it– probably could have used only 2 cans if I did not have such a heavy hand).  Also, follow the directions on the can about safety and precautions– this stuff is sticky and most likely only be removed with acetone (nail polish remover).

Example of my bit of over spraying is below.  The can said the foam will double in size, I would say in my conditions in my garage (approximately 80 deg, 80% humidity), I got about 40% expansion.

I sprayed the foam in and around the rocks and around the base of the branch by pushing the spray can straw down into the rock layers.

The product sets up in less than 8 hours, and then we were able to cut away the excess from my heavy handedness.  I trimmed it with a plastic knife and made it slightly below the rim of the pot.  The foam cuts extremely easy, and since I would be covering the foam, I sometimes ripped off what I did not want.

After all the pots were trimmed, I put some store-bought green moss to cover the foam.  I lightly placed some hot glue around on the foam to secure the moss for travel.

And  that is it!  Beautiful (and easy) centerpieces that are ready to be decorated!

After all this, I wanted to see how secure the branches were, so I brazenly picked up the whole thing by only the branch– the branch didn’t move, didn’t wiggle, didn’t budge.  I was suprised at the strength of the hold considering it was holding the weight of the 8″ Terracotta pot,  2-3 pounds of rocks, moss, foam, and the branch itself.  I would not recommend throwing them around the room like that, but good to know that this branch is very secure and can withstand a lot of top heavy decorations.

Here are the Manzanita branches decorated for the school themed retirement party.  I put paper air planes and pencils in the moss with an apple and the table name.


32 Responses to “Manzanita Madness!”

  1. Becki Schrader Ewert August 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    These are so cool. I love a new and creative idea!

  2. Marji Roy September 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Hello, Just dropping by to let your know I recently posted about my project using the spray foam to hold sticks in place. I credited you and this post which I discovered on Pinterest. I used your photo and credited your site. Thanks for sharing.

    • W September 19, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      You’re project turned out great! Glad I could help inspire you on the setting part. Thanks for tag too!

  3. Robin Lynn Fatherly October 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Thanks for the trick. I had already decided on this for my centerpieces next may when I get married but I didn’t think about using the spray foam. BRILLIANT! I’ve used that stuff before and it always goes bigger than I expect it will. I like the moss idea as well. I am going to use silver ceramic cube pots and I will set them in the middle of a floral ring of flowers. I can’t wait! it’s going to be so pretty.

  4. Debbie March 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    What an AMAZING BRILLIANT idea! I know I’ve needed something like this before, and have even used the spray foam before, but it never occurred to me to use it this way. I’ve already pinned it so I can remember it later. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome tip!


  5. April 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    This was so smart!!! A few years back I made just one little branch tree for my table and I used plaster of paris, it was expensive even just for that little thing, and the bigger problem was it took so long to dry, so I had to figure out a way to secure the branches for several hours… Your way is genius! I’m pinning/repinning. Little Bit

  6. Alycia Nichols July 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    This is a really great idea! I have lots of manzanita branches (although mine were much more costly!!! I got ripped off!), and I would like to set a few semi-permanent ones. I have been staved off by the same things you describe: cost, time to mix the plaster, etc. This seems SO much easier, quicker, and less messy!!! I’m going to give it a whirl once the humidity around here settles down. Thanks! Great tutorial!

  7. Alycia Nichols July 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    I just placed an order with Save On Crafts for a few of the branches. Keeping my fingers crossed that they will be really good ones. Thanks again for the web site info, and have a great weekend!

    • W August 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Glad to know the tutorial helped! I’ve used this trick since this blog entry to set some fake plants in decorative pots too. So much cheaper than plaster or even the green foam blocks! Good luck with your project!

  8. Veronika Khar September 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    What is the total cost and time you have spent on this project?

    • W October 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      I cannot recall the exact total price, but I do remember that the burden of the price falls with the Manzanita branches. The ancillary items like the terra cotta pots, expanding foam, and spray paint are nominal. If I had to estimate (forgive my brain a bit, I made all this over two years ago), I would say it is under $15 for each table, including the branch decorations. I am not sure of current pricing, but it is still definitely cheaper than other table centerpiece options of similar size. If you opt for fancier pots as well (like for a wedding), the price will go up per centerpiece. Hope this helps!

  9. Ellen Tresidder March 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    I was just about to start making manzanita centerpieces with my daughter for her upcoming wedding when I saw your blog, and how thankful I am! We weren’t sure how to secure the manzanita so we purchased mortar as plaster of paris was so expensive. What a costly big mess that would’ve been!
    We’re about to start and feeling so much better about the process now that we have a better direction and good instructions to follow. Thanks so much!!

    • Ellen Tresidder March 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

      Follow up – Made the manzanita centerpieces just as you described, they came out great, and we’re all ready for the wedding in three weeks. We plan to sell them afterward on Craigslist as they should get more than one life!

      • W March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am #

        Yay! So glad everything went smoothly! I sold my centerpieces on Craigslist too– excluding one which I kept to use to decorate for holidays.

  10. lokopo September 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Does the foam cure to a soft texture, I customize vinyl figures and want to make a icecream style vinyl figure and I wanna know if this brand of foam cures to a soft texture because many brands out their cure to a hard rock texture and I don’t want that feeling

    • W September 24, 2014 at 8:02 am #

      If I recall, it does get hard when fully cured. I started cutting away the excess when it was about 80-90% cured. At around $4, you could always give it a try. Hope that helps!

      • lokopo September 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        Do you know of any brands that cure to a soft or softer texture

      • lokopo September 24, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

        I heard open cell foam dealers cute soft is this true, and what brands would you recommend?

  11. lokopo September 23, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Do you know of any brand of spray foam that cures to a soft like texture need to make it look like icecrean even the touch any help will be appreciated thank you

    • lokopo September 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      It was to hard me to use

  12. White Rabbit Vintage October 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on White Rabbit Vintage Shoppe. Dallas, TX.

  13. Krystal Clark March 23, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    I’m planning to do these to surround the dance floor, except I’m going to scatter silk fall leaves at the base and battery operated lights in the branches.

  14. bcbc0406 April 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    I love this idea! We’ll be adding lights to hopefully make some nicer floor lighting for our outdoor reception. What sized pots did you use?

    • W September 4, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      My pots were rather small– I want to say 10″. But I’m sure it will be beautiful if you had these with lights. Great idea!!

  15. susanfree June 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    Reblogged this on Random Rambling and commented:
    Love this project.

  16. Reagan Niedan August 5, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    This looks great! Will it work with a 42″ tall manzanita branch if I use a larger pot?

    • W September 4, 2015 at 8:08 am #

      Definitely! The only tricky part will be supporting the branches until the foam dries. I also recommend weighing the bottom down so it doesn’t topple over due the increased height.

  17. mibtp December 4, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    Looking to make wall decor. Nettleton Hollow is now over $100 for just 4 branches, so I’ll skip them. Sav-on Crafts is way more affordable at bout $9 a branch. Hoping it turns out as good as yours.

  18. zooliferus January 23, 2017 at 1:04 am #

    I am in love with this entire project. Thank you so much for the step by step tutorial. My in-laws are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2017 – this is certainly an option for decorations


  1. Manzanita Centerpieces « doodles, dabbles, & dreams - June 6, 2011

    […] the pots and branches were set (instructions on how-to visit original Manzanita Madness post) it was time to decorate!  I needed something that would add color to my centerpieces, fit into my […]

  2. DIY Branch Centerpiece | EventsbyL - June 7, 2013

    […] Source: Pinterest […]

  3. setting branches in pots using spray foam ~ Add some moss to the top of the foam add lights and there you have it! Cheep wedding decor @ wish-upon-a-weddingwish-upon-a-wedding - January 27, 2014

    […] Source: […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: