Living Wreaths for Your Pleasure
Kathi Thomas, AIFD, PFCI
With summer comes a great time for having friends over for casual dinners, and of course you need flowers! These types of events call for casual flowers, such as you learned to do the last time in “designing from your yard”, but you might also consider a knock-out front door piece of living plants.
It all starts with a wreath form, easily available from your local hobby store. Buy some sheet moss while you’re at it. When you get home, soak the moss in water, and then squeeze it out. Line the shape of the wreath form with moss. Now comes the fun – you can do one of succulents (VERY trendy these days) or bright flowering plants.
If you’re just doing it for short term, the flowering plants work well (if you want it to go long-term, then you’ll need to clip the plants every few weeks to keep them from getting too “leggy.”) Succulents work great, they’re slow-growing and the varieties are almost infinite!
• Buy 2”, 3” or 4” plants, and get ones that are low to the ground. I like using some of the “string of beads” succulents as well – it looks like English peas on a vine!
• Water each plant and let drain. Then compress opposite sides of the container and the plant, roots and soil should easily come out all in once piece. If the plant is really “pot bound,” be sure to use a knife to cut into the root ball, so the roots will put out new roots and grow into the wreath.
• Place the plants around the wreath, with at least 3” between plants. Add in a little more soil, so that there is soil between the plants, and then put the still damp sheet moss over the soil, right up to the base of the plants.
• Take cord (green waxed cord works well) and wrap tightly around the wreath, being careful to go around the plants. This holds the moss onto the soil and plants and gives the plants time to grow and hold together.
For the first few weeks, lay the wreath on its “back” so that the plants are all growing up. If your gathering happens before 2 or 3 weeks, you can go ahead and hang it on your door or outside wall, but be sure to lay it down flat again the next day. This way, the roots take good hold and start to grow everything together.
You can also make your wreath using cuttings rather than whole plants. In this case, you’ll put soil all around the mossed wreath form, cover with moss and then insert your cuttings through the moss. If you do this, it will definitely be several weeks before you should hang your wreath on a door.
You may be able to hang it on an outside wall after about a week, but I’d keep it flat for up to a month, if possible, to be sure that all is rooted well. Be sure to keep the wreath damp, not soaked, but always damp. Succulents really do need some moisture, they’re not like cacti. This is the less expensive way to make these wreaths, because you can buy plants from which you can take 2 or more cuttings.
As we go into fall, consider making a Thanksgiving wreath with some golden to orange flowers (calendulas or marigolds) and succulents that have tinges of red on them.
For Christmas, you can get pixie poinsettias to plant in a wreath, along with some ivy and they’re lovely!
Just don’t put outside when it is colder than around 60, or the poinsettias will be damaged.
Enjoy your seasonal living wreaths!
Kathi Thomas is an accomplished floral designer who creates her flower arrangements for many occasions out of her Texas-based studio. She is one of those people who loves what she does, and does it with an eco clean, eco green attitude and environmentally sensitive designs. In Kathi’s words, “You can still have a lush and exquisite event, and you can leave on your honeymoon, knowing that you had the event about which you’ve dreamed, but not left a nightmare for our earth.”