If you’re over evergreens, let us suggest something equally verdant but more unique for your holiday trimming: succulents. These days, the trendy water-plump plants can be found at most floral shops, however, their use in seasonal wreaths and arrangements is only just catching on–which means that yours could be the only door on the block to rock one!
In addition to being relatively low-maintenance and resilient, succulents are also easy to work with–good news for those of us who are all thumbs but not necessarily of the green kind. And since this is a living wreath, you can keep up this decoration year-round without shame.
Read on to follow our low-stress steps for fashioning a custom wreath.
What you’ll need:
- An 18-inch wire wreath frame (you can select a larger or smaller frame)
- 600 cubic inches of floral moss
- Floral wire
- Wire snips
- Greening pins
- About 40 succulent plants
- Wreath hanger
1. Select your succulents. You’ll want a good assortment of textures and shapes–long varieties to spill out of the wreath, larger specimens to grab the eye and smaller kinds to fill in the gaps. If it sounds a little intimidating, make things easier on yourself and follow a simple principal of good design–repetition. Choose several varieties of succulents and create a pattern you’ll follow throughout the project.
2. Create your wreath base. You can make your own wreath base or buy one (Topiary Art Works has a great selection).
To make your own, start with a big bowl of water and soak your moss in it. Wring out some of the water and begin laying your moss over the wire wreath frame.
Really pile up the moss and compact it with your hands along the round form. Be sure to accumulate a good amount of volume so that you can insert your plants into the moss and so that they’ll be able to take root.
Once you’ve molded the moss, take floral wire and pass it over and under the moss, securing it on the wire form. Space each pass every 1/2 inch, encircling the moss while pulling tightly to compact it as you move across the form. Once you’ve come back to where you started, tie off the end. Then, go back in the opposite direction to crisscross over the first layer of wire. This helps compact the moss to create a stable wreath base for your succulents. With scissors, trim off any lanky bits of moss–especially on the bottom of your wreath base to avoid wet moss sitting against your door or wall.
Pro tip: Attach a few Mason jar rings to the back of the form to provide an extra gap between the wreath and the surface it’s resting on.
3. Assemble the wreath.
Help yourself by starting with a dry run: arrange your succulents in a circle the same size as your wreath form (we used this Thirstystone tray) to get a sense of how you’d like them to look when finished. You can make adjustments as you go along, but it’s much easier (and less messy) to do this step ahead of time and not remove and rearrange your plants once they’ve been placed in the wire frame.
4. Remove the succulents from their pots.
This is the fun part! Put on some gardening gloves (or don’t) and remove each of your succulents from its pot. Gently massage and tap out as much of the soil as you can from the root ball without damaging it.
5. Insert the plant into the wreath.
Using a pencil or other pointy object, make a hole just as large and deep as your root ball. Try not to overshoot, but don’t worry too much; as you move along, the moss will naturally compact as you create and fill in additional holes along the wreath.
Gently guide the roots into the hole and gather up the moss around it to hug the base of the plant. To ensure your succulent stays in place until it fully takes root in its new wreath home, secure it with a greening pin at the base of the plant.
6. That’s it! Now repeat and repeat.
It takes about an hour and a half to complete the wreath. As you go along, you can divide succulents that are grouped together but have separate root balls (select a good amount of varieties growing in multiples while you’re at the floral shop) to help you fill out the wreath’s bald spots. But don’t fret over small gaps: the wreath will fill in over time as it grows and becomes even more spectacular.
7. Attach your wreath hanger and stand back to admire your work.
Your gorgeous living wreath will keep growing and last for years to come. If you tire of it as a wreath, lay it flat on your dining table to create a centerpiece.
Or for festive fun, tuck in little seasonal elements throughout the year like holly berries or mini ornaments. Mini LED string lights create a beautifully lit wreath full of ambience during the evening hours.
Ideally, you’ll want to leave your wreath in a horizontal position for a few weeks while the roots find their way securely into their new mossy home (though the greening pins will help keep them in place if you’re in a hurry to display right away). Proudly show off your wreath in a sunny or partly sunny location, and water it every two weeks or so, waiting until the moss is completely dry beforehand. It’s easiest to fill a large bowl or circular platter with water and then set your wreath in it to get a good soaking from the under/backside. Just let it drain for at least 30 minutes before hanging again to avoid drips.
One final tip.
It’s inevitable that some leaves are going to fall and/or get knocked off. Save them! You can use them to start a whole new little succulent. That’s one of the amazing things about these beautiful plants. Here’s a great tutorial for propagating succulents from Martha Stewart.
And, should you find yourself with leftover succulents (or you’ve come this far and just can’t see yourself making an entire wreath), fill up small cups and containers with succulent soil and make the most adorable arrangements for your home and/or perfect little gifts for friends and family.
Instructions, art direction and photography: Jeff Powell