Monday, March 20, 2017

A Living Wreath: Quick and Easy to Make

Living wreaths hung beside the front door or on the patio create a gorgeous display of fresh flowers or herbs, but can be expensive to purchase. Fortunately making your own is not that difficult to do and you can tailor it to fit your individual style and taste. With a little time and patience, you too can make a living wreath with a simple wreath frame and some cuttings from your favorite plants.

Purchase or make a wreath frame. You will need a beveled frame designed for flowers. You can also make a simple frame with plywood and create the planting area with chicken wire. Simply cut the wire with wire cutters and bend into a dome. Check that the form is uniform in shape.

Insert a layer of moistened sphagnum moss to cover the bottom and part of the sides. Add lightweight potting soil such as seed starter to fill the cavity. Cover the soil with more moistened sphagnum moss. Attach the edges of the chicken wire to the back of the plywood with staples for homemade frames, or secure the moss to purchased wreath frames with floral wire.

Cover the outside of the wreath with sheet moss. You can purchase this from the florist or in craft stores, but natural moss from outside is a great alternative, if you have access to a wooded area. Look for moss on rocks, trees or in shaded areas beneath trees. Areas near streams are usually moss covered.

Use U shaped floral pins to anchor the moss to the wreath. This provides a green background for your plants. Although plants will fill in the areas as they grow, a moss covered background camouflages the wreath base until lush new growth occurs.

Select small seedlings or plant cuttings for your living wreath. Consider ivies, vines, and small flowering plants like petunias, impatiens or orchids. Coleus also make a beautiful multicolored wreath. Cuttings should be dipped in rooting hormone prior to planting.

Lay the wreath down on a flat surface. You will need to leave the wreath in this position until the cuttings or seedlings are established. Choose an area that receives filtered light and is protected from harsh weather or temperature fluctuations.

Arrange plants on the wreath before you begin planting. Try out several arrangements until you find the look you desire. Keep in mind that as plants grow they will fill in the entire area. Experiment with color and texture. Small sections of ivies or ornamental foliage between flowering plants adds interest and texture to a living wreath.

Make a hole through the moss and into the soil with your fingers or pencil. Work the soil away from the sides to allow room for the roots of your plant.

Insert the root ball into the soil and firm the soil around the plant. Secure moss around the base of the plant with florist pins.

Mist the wreath with tepid water to keep the soil moist and to increase humidity. Living wreaths must be established before hanging. Allow roots to form and seedlings to become accustomed to their new home. Generally, your wreath will be ready for hanging in about a week. Test to see if plants have established roots by tugging gently. Resistance to your tugs indicate roots have formed.

Hang in the desired location. Mist daily to maintain moisture. To water, lay the wreath flat and pour water into the soil. Allow to drain and rehang the wreath.

Making your own living wreath provides the opportunity to customize it for your own personal tastes in plants and flowers; and creates as a beautiful hanging garden to display as a welcome to your home, or to bring nature to any deck or patio. Although they may look complicated and difficult to make, you can do it yourself in a few hours. Living wreaths are the perfect decorations for outside weddings and summer parties. With a little care, they will last all season long.

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