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Here’s a quick and truly easy centerpiece idea from the Department of Not Everything Has to Be Hard. Camellias have a long blooming season and tend to last a long time as cut flowers, too. Slip a couple into a cute jar, add a coordinating candle, and you’re off and running.

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Why we love camellias


Camellias are extremely popular in the temperate southeastern United States but thrive in hardiness zones as low as zone 6B.


Camellias are flowering shrubs or small trees with a long blooming season that can span the winter in temperate areas. Camellia flowers come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, and the leaves are a beautiful, shiny dark green with an elegant shape. If you’re even a tad more of a gardener than I am, there’s a lot you can do with these beautiful plants in your yard, from simple container planting to training them over a trellis. Or so I hear.


  1. Cut the stem of each flower at the bottom, where you see another bud or flower branching off. Place cut flower into water immediately.
  2. When you’re ready to arrange your centerpiece, pour fresh water into a clean jar or vase and add a cut flower preservative, which can significantly extend the life of cut camellias.
  3. Snip the stem at an angle to maximize the surface area exposed to water. Remove any leaves that would be submerged in water.
  4. It’s best practice to change the water every couple of days.

Where to source elements for these DIY centerpieces

Not gonna lie — these beautiful flowers arrived on our porch with a coordinating tiny note card courtesy of a sweet friend who grows them in her yard. We assembled the rest of the elements from simple pieces we already had at home.

Failing that state of affairs, here’s where you can find what you see here.


The flowers pictured here are one of the many varieties of camellia japonica (common camellia). They’re widely available at nurseries and florists, in a wide range of colors and looks.

The jar is jut a good old pint-sized mason jar. 

We go through spurts of saving pretty glass jars that come into our home, and occasionally buying little jars and vases when something strikes our eye. That way we have an assortment of options to draw from when we’re trying to feel all breezy and bohemian and make a little centerpiece like this one.


The candle pictured is a Watermelon Lemonade three-wick candle from Bath and Body Works, where I go begrudgingly about once a year when one of our daughters insists. It smells like Hubba Bubba gum from the 1980s, which was full-on contraband in my household because it contained sugar. I’m amazed to learn it’s made of soy wax, even though, at $24.50, it damned well better be. I secretly adore this candle. 

You might also like one of these or one of these.


We love these sturdy coasters because they’re both a little bit striking and totally neutral. We got them here a few years ago. You can find similar ones here.


Who doesn’t love Emily McDowell? Her site is always full of wry observations at affordable prices. (One day we should talk about the Insightful Notecards Industrial Complex, maybe?) Emily also distributes through lots of local indie bookstores, so please check yours.

It would be fun to pay it forward with a centerpiece like this and give a little jar of camellias and a cute card to a friend, just sayin. But we also love the idea of including a printed element in a centerpiece regardless of its setting. If your centerpieces are for an event, definitely consider including table numbers or just a cute notecard with a kind or funny message on it. And don’t neglect this idea even when putting together a casual centerpiece for your own table.

More ideas for assembling your centerpiece

Consider adopting a cat and getting a really great table. Just putting that out there. Talk to you soon.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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