How To Style Your Reception Tables

Select the Basics

A visit to your rental supplier is the perfect opportunity to try mixing and matching table pieces. At a minimum, you will need a linen, chairs, napkins, flatware, and glassware. If your budget allows, all of these can be upgraded. A tabletop charger is not a requirement, but it is nice to have and usually does not break the bank.

Take it Up a Notch

A moderate bump in the budget to upgrade your linens and chairs can really transform your look. Go from basic white or ivory linen to something colorful with texture or sparkle, and folding to a Chivari or ballroom chair. Few people realize the dramatic impact that an upgraded linen and a specialty chair, together, can make on a room.

Meeting Necessities 

Bring photos and samples of your ideas to your rental appointment. Helpful items include shots of floral centerpieces you love, color swatches, styles that appeal, cake details and even your place cards. Also, ask your venue if you can borrow a charger or a sample piece of china as it makes a big impact on your overall design.

Be Realistic
Understand that inspiration photos are usually unattainable at any cost. They were meant to intrigue, not to scale to an actual event. If your budget is limited, except that you can’t have everything – but trust that we will help you assemble something great.

The tabletop design doesn’t have to be a mystery. If you get too lost in the details, turn to your trusted rental supplier for guidance. We are here to help!

Heather Rouffe is the Director of Sales and Partner of Atlas Event Rental, a full-service event rental industry serving the Southern Florida market for over 30 years based. Recently named one of the top 30 rental companies in the US by Special Events Magazine, Atlas provides top quality merchandise and unparalleled customer service to each and every customer.

The Amazing World of China Asters

I still can’t believe that for as many years I have been growing flowers that I have most recently come to discover the amazing world of China asters. Back in the day, when we were growing for grocery store sales, the only varieties on the market were run of the mill Matsumoto and spray types. There was nothing beautiful or exciting about them, so I rarely included them in the garden. But a few years ago, I stumbled on a German grower offering the most incredible range of varieties that I had never seen before.

China asters from FloretLast summer we grew over 40 varieties and this summer grew 40 more and I am now a passionate champion for China asters. What makes these plants so great is that they can be grown from seed, are easy to grow and flower at a time when the garden is starting to fade. As the day length shortens, this group of plants is prompted to begin flowering.

In addition to lasting an incredibly long time in the vase, China asters come in a dazzling rainbow of colors and a wide range of flower shapes and sizes, including huge feathered blossoms, sturdy sprays of miniature buttons, tight domed flower heads and soft rose-like blooms.

Trialing China asters at FloretRainbow of China asters from FloretChina asters are typically sown 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost and transplanted out after the weather has sufficiently warmed. Like other cold sensitive plants, such a zinnias, basil and celosia, it’s important to wait to tuck these into the garden until all danger of frost has passed.

China aster trial at FloretWe grow our China asters in landscape fabric and space plants 9 inches apart with 5 rows per bed. Once blooms appear, plants tend to topple over under the weight of the flower display, so be sure to give these guys plenty of support while the plants are still small.

China aster trial at FloretChina aster at FloretWe use a layer of Hortonova netting stretched horizontally about 12 inches above the ground. Netting is held by in place by metal hoops that we made with our Johnny’s Quick Hoops Bender. Any type of stake, wooden or metal, will work just fine. As the plants grow, they push up through the grid of netting and get the support they need.

China aster seed trial at FloretChina aster flower seed trial at FloretAfter plants are tucked into the ground they just hang out for the better part of summer and are pretty boring in the landscape. I’ve found myself fretting over them, wondering if they are going to do anything. But as summer comes to a close, they start making buds and elongating in the waning light.

As the rest of the garden starts to wind down and fall apart, China asters come into their prime and along with dahlias, helping finish the flower season strong. They are a must grow for late summer and early autumn bouquets.

China aster flower seed trial at Floretharvesting china aster flowers at FloretHarvest flowers when they are about half way open and strip the foliage off the lower half of the stems and place them into water with flower food. A vase life of 7-10+ days can be expected.

China asters are sensitive to wet weather and the petals will brown if not harvested on time. So be sure to pick them regularly for the best looking blooms.

China aster flower seed trial at FloretAll in all, we’ve grown close to 80 different mixes and individual varieties.

Over in the Floret Shop you will find my absolute favorites. Peach and blush have become extremely popular colors with floral designers and brides. So if you have weddings in your future, you might want to consider the following varieties:

China aster flower seed trial at FloretHarlekin Light Rose: This tall, feminine beauty is smothered in an abundance of the sweetest soft, nearly ballerina-pink blooms. Disc-shaped blooms have a fluffy appearance from the hundreds of quilled, tubular petals covering them.

Rose Quartz Mix: This feminine mix features warm pink tones, including dusty rose, blush and ballet slipper pink. Delicate ruffled blooms look like pretty soft pillows.

Valkyrie Pink: Palm-sized blooms on this mauve-pink beauty are reminiscent of the color of sea anemones. Buds are lighter than the mature flowers, giving plants a wonderful color range. Long, pointed flower petals resemble rosy cactus flowers, and as blooms are opening, the center petals are swirled.China aster flower seed trial at Floret

Lady Coral Chamois: With the softest peachy-blush blooms, this romantic beauty has a glowing quality. Each plant is smothered in at least a dozen stems topped with ruffled, feminine flowers.

Tower Chamois Apricot: One of the most beautiful and well loved asters, Chamois Apricot is a must grow. Each vigorous plant is loaded with dozens of glowing peachy-pink blooms that are perfect for flower arranging and wedding work.

Valkyrie Chamois: Palm-sized blooms on this striking variety are stunning. Long, pointed flower petals resemble bird feathers, and as blooms are opening, the center petals are swirled.

China aster flower seed trial at FloretIf you’re looking for some beautiful, hardworking additions to the late summer cutting garden, look no further. China asters shine when the rest of the garden starts to fade, rewarding you with a bumper crop of glowing, textural blooms.

Aloe Vera Plant Care Guide: Growing Info + Tips

Aloe there! Get it? 

Aloe vera, commonly referred to as the savior of sunburnt skin, has a plethora of classifications including perennial, succulent and xerophytic. Aloe plants can be grown indoors and outdoors, part of how they’re versatile and low maintenance. This makes aloe vera a common household plant.

Many people keep aloe vera plants in their kitchens for design and medicinal uses. In fact, snapping an aloe leaf, splitting it open and placing it on sunburnt skin can speed up your skin’s healing time. 

Convenient right? Now keeping your aloe vera plant alive is a responsibility in itself. Here’s the good news: aloe vera plant care can be minimal compared to the great benefits of the aloe plant. The not-so-good news: you might have to sit through more corny puns in this aloe vera plant care guide. 



Aloe Vera Plant Overview 

Aloe vera originated in the tropical climates of Africa and established its popularity around the world for its health benefits. Some basic examples of aloe vera benefits include anti-inflammatory action, laxative effects, anti-aging effects and wound healing. 

Similar to the plant’s benefits, aloe vera can grow quite large. The aloe vera plant can grow up to three feet in height, but average height is one to two feet tall. Many people recognize an aloe plant for its long, spiny leaves that shoot out from the center. These green leaves give the plant dramatic height. Green plants like aloe vera can bring life into any space, making them the perfect gift for any occasion. 

One of the most well-liked characteristics of the aloe plant is its drought tolerance. A University of Floridareport advises to only water your aloe vera plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Actively growing aloe plants also thrive in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees, which makes the average room temperatures favorable for growth. If you are forgetful when it comes to plant care, the aloe vera plant may be the best fit for you. 

aloe vera quick guide: five suns, one water, 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, toxic for cats and dogs


Types of Aloe Vera Plants

Now that we know some general facts about aloe vera, let’s discuss different types of aloe vera plants. Aloe vera plants come in a variety of textures and heights. Some types include tiger aloe, lace aloe and blue aloe.  


Tiger or Partridge-Breasted Aloe (Aloe variegata)

close up view of light green aloe vera foliage

Aloe variegata is a small succulent that grows up to a foot tall with leaves as long as six inches. This aloe plant’s leaves have a green and white striped texture to them, hence the “tiger” nickname. In comparison to the tiger plant’s leaf size, the flower tends to be the largest part of the partridge-breasted aloe, reaching up to 18 inches.


Lace Aloe (Aloe aristata)

aerial view of dark green aloe vera

Lace aloe, like tiger aloe, is a stemless plant with dark green leaves that reach up to four inches long. During fall months, lace aloe can develop terminal panicles, which reach 20 inches in height, and a few inch-long orange flowers. Their petite size can make them a good fit for the indoors.


Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)


Blue aloe, like the name reveals, has a bluish-white pigment and stretches up to 24 inches wide. This type of aloe is native to South Africa and requires sufficient draining to grow strong. Salmon colored flowers bloom in late winter and spring months and attract hummingbirds. 



How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe vera plant care can be quite easy for first-time plant owners or for those who tend to neglect plants. In general, aloe vera plants need plenty of sunlight, minimal regular watering and warm temperatures. 

copy: sunlight with a sun symbol

Light: Aloe vera plants need to be housed in a bright location with some direct sun in winter months. An odd fact about aloe vera is it can sunburn just like us. If you move an aloe vera into direct sunlight from a relatively shady location, the sun can do harm.

copy: water with a symbol of a water drop

Water: Aloe vera plants are drought resistant, so they can survive with minimal watering. However, not watering your aloe vera plant will shorten its lifespan. An appropriate way to water an aloe vera plant is to water thoroughly and let the excess water drain. Then, water again when the top inch of soil is dry. This allows for optimal aloe vera growth. 

An indication that your aloe vera plant is not receiving enough water is brown leaf tips. However, a more common indication of improper watering is black spots on the leaves due to overwatering. Overwatering can be more dangerous than under watering because it could lead to root rot. 

green banner of succulents

Temperatures: The aloe vera plant can live in temperatures from 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When growing aloe vera indoors, room temperatures of 60–75 degrees Fahrenheit are preferred for optimal plant growth.

copy: toxicity with a skull and cross bones symbol

Toxicity: Aloe plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. Common symptoms that indicate poisoning are vomiting, depression, anorexia and changes in urine color. The aloe vera plant carries anthraquinone glycosides which increase bowel movements commonly resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. If you have a furry friend at home, consider purchasing aloe vera and other small indoor plants that fit on table tops. 

copy: pests and problems with a symbol of a bug

Pests: Aloe can occasionally be infested with Aceria aloinis, commonly referred to as aloe mite. These mites are nearly invisible to the human eye. Under a microscope, people can identify this scheming mite as worm-like. 

Many aloe vera plant owners don’t recognize their plant has mites until damage is visible. Some indicators of aloe mites include warty growth on leaves and stems. Once infested with these lumps, they are nearly impossible to reverse. Complete removal of the plant is recommended to avoid further damage to other plants because these mites travel in the wind. 

Problems: While problems are rare because they are an easy going plant, overwatering is one of the most common sources of improper aloe vera plant care. Signs an aloe vera plant is overwatered include brown, droopy leaves and soft spots. Repotting the plant in half soil and half sand could return the plant back to its strong, green color. 

copy: repotting and propagation with a symbol of a potted plant

Repotting: Repotting aloe vera plants is more important for young plants as they outgrow their spaces. The repotting process is simple and carefree. First, take note of any offsets, remove them and save them for propagation purposes. Once out of the old pot, repot the aloe plant in cactus potting mix. 

Propagation: Seasons best for the propagation of aloe vera are summer and spring. Remove any offsets by cutting them and drying for one to two days. This helps prevent the sap from escaping. Unlike repotting a growing aloe plant, propagation requires a sandy potting mix. This can be made at home with all-purpose potting mix and sand split equally. 



Common Aloe Vera Plant Questions and Concerns

Aloe vera plant care isn’t always easy for everyone, especially if you’re a first-time plant owner. Here are some quick answers to frequently asked questions about aloe vera plants. 

Do aloe plants need direct sunlight?

Aloe plants need about six hours of direct sunlight; however, be cautious because immediately moving an aloe plant from a shady area to direct sun can cause an aloe plant to sunburn.  

Do aloe vera plants clean the air?


Aloe vera plants clean the air of formaldehyde and benzene, products found in chemical-based cleaners. This makes them a great indoor plant for kitchens and bedrooms. Furthermore, more pure air results in easier breathing and a better night’s sleep

Should I fertilize my aloe plant?

Fertilizing your aloe plant is not always necessary. Aloe vera plants are classified as succulents, so they can salvage nutrients in harsh soil. Some recommend fertilizing aloe plants one to two times a year. 

Why are the tips of my aloe plant turning yellow?

Tips of aloe plants turning yellow could be due to improper watering or too much direct light. Refer to the section above on aloe plant care for best practices.

What is aloe vera good for?

Aloe vera is good for fighting cavities and healing burns. The FDA approved of aloe vera as an over-the-counter medication for skin burns in 1959. In addition, aloe vera was found to be effective in fighting cavities in a ScienceDaily report.

What is aloe vera juice good for?

Aloe vera juice is good for aiding digestion. The compound anthraquinones increases intestinal water which can relieve constipation. Proceed with caution because consumption of aloe vera by your pet can lead to moderate poisoning. 


Say “aloe” to your little plant and browse our pre-planted succulents and cactuses. These make great displays for kitchen window sills and help bring the outdoors inside. Aloe vera and other succulents are great first plants to adopt due to their low maintenance and self-sufficiency. 

Pop them in a light-exposed room and watch your little friends grow!