Outdoor table centerpiece ideas – 4 ways to elevate your al fresco dining area

Uplift your outdoor living area and impress your guests with a centerpiece made from plants

Outdoor table centerpiece
(Image credit: ElineSpruit via Getty Images)

Now that the weather is warming up and we're seeing more sunshine, you might be getting ready to host in your backyard. Getting your patio area in shape with stylish décor is an important step in creating your ideal hosting setting.

To give your outdoor living room a lift, why not make your own outdoor table centerpiece? Having a living table decoration will impress your guests and bring a beautiful focal point to your garden patio.

There are lots of different kinds of outdoor table centerpieces you can make, so we've asked experts to share their favorites and give us some tips on how to make them.

4 outdoor table centerpiece ideas

Enhance your outdoor space by making an outdoor table centerpiece. We've compiled an expert list of ideas for creating your ideal living centerpiece for your garden table.

1. Succulent centerpiece

Succulent centerpiece

(Image credit: Andreana Bitsis via Alamy)

Perhaps the most common outdoor table centrepiece to make is one made from succulents, combining different shapes and interesting texture.

'Many floral designers follow the 'filler, thriller, spiller' formula when creating an outdoor succulent centerpiece,' says Abby Perry, master gardener and founder of Abby's Garden Parties.

'The filler plant is the main base or backdrop, providing bushy fullness. Succulents like echeveria or sedum make excellent fillers with dense, compact rosettes. The thriller draws the eye upward with height and dramatic form – think statuesque specimens like aeonium or towering euphorbia. Finally, the spiller trails over the edges, softening the overall look. Trailing varieties with fun, whimsical names like Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) and Peperomia prostrata (string of turtles) make excellent spiller plants for succulent centerpieces,' she adds.

Summer is the perfect time to place your succulent centerpiece on your outdoor table, ensuring the plants receive plenty of sunlight - essential care to avoid your succulents dying.

Abby Perry
Abby Perry

Abby Perry, founder and owner of Abby's Garden Parties, is a Master Gardener and passionate advocate for connecting people with nature through hands-on experiences. At Abby’s Garden Parties, Abby provides gardening experiences as well as a mental health boost and an opportunity for creativity.

2. Herb centerpiece

Herb centerpiece

(Image credit: nigel FRANCIS  via Alamy)

To enhance your outdoor table centerpiece even further you can add fragrance to your outdoor seating area by creating a mini aromatic herb garden.

'To me a herb garden is really about utility, and the beauty in it comes from it just looking natural and smelling comforting. I don't think much designing needs to be done to make an herb garden work,' says Jeannie Psomas, plant expert and owner of The Plant Lady: San Francisco.

Combinations such as lemon thyme, mint and lavender would look and smell wonderful when paired together.

You can add a range of fragrant herbs in one bowl to achieve a herb centerpiece. Have some scissors nearby, like these pruning shears from Greendigs, and you can prune and harvest your herb centerpiece at anytime.

Jeannie Psomas
Jeannie Psomas

Jeannie Psomas owns The Plant Lady: San Francisco, an indoor plant shop located in San Francisco, California which caters to collectors and hobbyists alike.  With a strong emphasis on plant science and education, Jeannie's philosophy is that anyone can grow gorgeous plants indoors. 

3. Mini flower garden centerpiece

Flower garden centerpiece

(Image credit: Tamara Kaliuzhna via Getty Images)

If flowers are more your thing or you want to give your patio an instant spring-feel, you can arrange a handful of spring flowers for pots to create a mini flower garden.

'Designing and creating 'mini flower gardens' in containers as table centerpieces provides instant color and impact for yourself and your guests. They bring life and joy to any table setting,' says garden designer Laura Janney.

You can choose a range of flowers with different colors and shapes to suit your aesthetic and plant them together in one pot. Pansies, marigolds and muscari bulbs, for instance, would work well in a shared pot.

Sowing a mixture of wildflower seeds in a pot can even create a mini wildflower meadow for your table.

'These centerpieces are easy to maintain and can provide an opportunity for gardeners with limited space – who might only have a balcony or patio – to still have gorgeous native blooms and support biodiversity,' says Nicholas Resler, horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center.

Opting for container plants for pollinators means that your flower garden centerpiece will be enjoyed by wildlife as well as guests. Just ensure you have chosen flowering plants that can thrive well in pots and choose a pot with sufficient drainage so that the soil doesn't become waterlogged.

Laura Janney
Laura Janney

Laura is the Founder and Owner of The Inspired Garden. A winner of the 2024 Houzz Design award, Laura has over 20 years of experience in gardening and working with clients designing beautiful gardens. With multiple courses under her belt, Laura would make a great resource on all things gardening.

Nicholas Resler

Nicholas is a horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center, a non-profit botanical garden located in Delaware.

4. Houseplant centerpiece

Chinese money plant on garden table

(Image credit: Kelly Mitchell via Getty Images)

An alternative and quicker way to create an eye-catching outdoor table centerpiece is by moving your houseplants outside for summer.

'If you live in a climate that has warm summers, many tropical indoor plants would love to go outside and soak up some light,' says Jeannie Psomas.

'Always transition your indoor plants first into shade and perhaps even leave them in shade for the summer. You'd be surprised, but the shadiest spot outdoors is still giving the plant a lot more photosynthetic radiation than your brightest spot indoors,' she adds.

If you have pergola shade to work with, or use an outdoor table umbrella, placing your houseplants outdoors can add green interest to your table setting and allow your houseplants to benefit from summer warmth and sun.

Some of our favorite houseplants to display outside include growing peace lilies outdoors, ferns and money tree plants, all of which can thrive outdoors and are small enough to sit on your table.

Make an outdoor table centerpiece


What is the best container for my outdoor table centerpiece?

When creating an outdoor table centerpiece with plants, it's important to choose a container that will keep your plants happy. This includes choosing pots that provide sufficient drainage, such as with drainage holes, to avoid soggy soil. If you are creating a centerpiece with plants that like plenty of humidity, such as succulents, you might find using a terrarium container beneficial for retaining moisture.

What decoration can I add to my outdoor table centerpiece?

You can create beautiful outdoor table centerpieces with a range of different plants and flowers. Adding decorative items, like LED lights or candles, can uplift your centerpiece even further and complement the plants. Always make sure to use items that can withstand different weather to avoid anything becoming damaged.

Creating an outdoor table centerpiece with plants is a fun way to uplift your outdoor living area and get ready for hosting this spring and summer. You can make a range of different centerpieces with different plants to create the perfect piece for your setting.

If you're looking for more inspiration to spruce up your backyard, explore our expert list of outdoor mirror ideas to open up your outdoor space.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.