Create a Living Wreath

Create a living wreath that will last all year with your choice of sensational succulents.

To make a living wreath, you’ll need the following materials as well as the instructions below.

Materials

  • Wire-and-moss wreath form
  • Large basin
  • Small, sharp knife
  • Picture-hanging wire
  • Hardy perennial succulents from your garden or nursery, such as varieties of Sempervivum and Sedum
  • 4 pieces of 2-foot-long green florist’s wire
  • 2 screws or 16-penny nails

Method

  • Buy a wire-and-moss wreath form. We purchased ours, which has weed barrier under the moss, from a nursery catalog. You can find similar forms at garden centers, nurseries, and craft stores. Or you can make your own from a wire form, potting soil, and sphagnum and sheet moss.
  • Soak the wreath. Submerge the wreath in water in a large container such as a laundry tub, upside-down trash can lid, or wheelbarrow. Soak it for at least two hours to get the potting soil underneath the moss wet and ready for planting.
  • Prep the succulents. While the wreath is soaking, get the succulents ready. If you purchased small potted plants for the project, water them well and set them aside. If you bought larger potted succulents, invert each potted plant gently into your hand, place the plant on a sturdy surface, and use a sharp knife to divide each plant into two or three sections. This makes them easier to put in the wreath. If you’re using plants from the garden, make the cuttings about three days ahead, leaving as much of the stem as possible. Lay the cuttings outside until the cut ends harden off—that’s when they’re ready to plant.
  • Attach wire to wreath. Fasten the four pieces of green florist’s wire to the wreath. Each 2-foot piece should go on a separate quadrant of the wreath‹at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions. Attach the wires by winding them around a piece of wire on the wreath form. When you’re done, the wreath should look like it has four wire “arms” coming out from it.


  • Plant succulents. When putting in larger potted plants or cuttings, cut a slit in the moss and weed barrier with your knife. Pull the moss and weed barrier back and tuck the plant into the soil. In some places you’ll run into wire, so be patient and gently poke around until you find a spot without wire. After planting, press the weed barrier and moss back into place. For small cuttings, poke the knife tip through the moss and weed barrier. Then poke one or several cuttings into the small hole and press the moss back around the cutting.
  • Secure plants. After planting a few succulents in one section, take hold of the nearest florist’s wire that you attached earlier and pull it over the plants. Then wind it around the whole wreath to keep the succulents in place. The wire will not harm the plants.
  • Let wreath set. When you’re done planting, carefully move the wreath to an out-of-the-way location in a sunny outdoor spot. Keep it lying on its back for four to five weeks to let the plants take root. Water occasionally with a watering can if you’re not getting adequate rain. Before you hang up the wreath, soak it again for at least 30 minutes and let it drain for 15 minutes. The wreath will be heavy, so use two screws or 16-penny nails and picture-hanging wire to hang it.
  • Prepare for storage. Keep the wreath outdoors year-round in temperate climates. If you have cold winters, lay the wreath in a protected outdoor area before the first freeze, wrap it in burlap, and cover with at least 12 inches of straw or leaves. Uncover it in spring once the threat of heavy frost has passed. Wait until your plants start growing again and add more cuttings, if needed, to fill in any bare spots.

Michelle Leise is a freelance writer in Red Wing.