Making Your Own Living Wreath

Making Your Own Living Wreath

Part of Ep. 504 Harvest Creations

Sue Steinmann of Arena Designs shows us how to make a living wreath from succulent plants with as few as 40 cuttings.

Premiere date: Jul 31, 1997

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Here's a great gift idea, a living wreath. I'm with herb gardener, Sue Steinmann, in Arena. She's going to show us the simple steps to making one of these for our very own. Sue, this looks complicated, but you're saying that I could actually do this.

Steinmann:
Oh, absolutely.

Shelley:
You've got a lot of different plants in here. How many cuttings do I need to make something like this?

Steinmann:
Well, this wreath has probably 80 cuttings. But you don't need that many. You could make a beautiful wreath with perhaps half that.

Shelley:
So, 40 would do it. Let's look at some of the plants you've got in here. This is really neat looking. What's that?

Steinmann:
That's a succulent. We call it the ravioli plant.

Shelley:
That's great. It looks like it.

Steinmann:
It's a nice succulent to use because it has a very low spreading growth habit.

Shelley:
This one next to it almost looks like kind of a burro's tail.

Steinmann:
It is. It's a form of burro's tail.

Shelley:
What's this one here, with the furry leaves.

Steinmann:
That's a form of echivaria, which is a large group of plants. They're good to use in the wreath because of the nice rosette shape they have.

Shelley:
They're pretty, too. Now, this looks like it's some form of jade.

Steinmann:
It's a variegated leaf jade. It just adds interest with the different colors.

Shelley:
So, we stick mostly indoor succulent plants?

Steinmann:
You don't need to. You can use the hen and chicks you have in your outdoor gardens or the sedums in your rock garden, too.

Shelley:
This is beautiful. It would look really nice with a candle in it, too. How do I get to this? What's my first step?

Steinmann:
The first step is to take your cuttings. You want a cutting that's approximately two inches long. Then you need to remove the bottom leaves off of the stem. You want to expose about an inch of the stem.

Shelley:
I assume we're going to be poking that into something?

Steinmann:
That's right. Once you get your cutting made like this, you simply lay it out on your counter for approximately two weeks. That forms a callous over the cut area so that it doesn't rot later on.

Shelley:
So, it doesn't have to be outside or in the sun or anything?

Steinmann:
No, just on your counter.

Shelley:
Now what do we do?

Steinmann:
Then you need to make your wreath form, which is the hardest part. You start with three of these wire hoops. You can get these at garden centers or craft stores.

Shelley:
I've seen them around a lot.

Steinmann:
And the first thing is to line it with your sheet moss. This has been dampened slightly so that it's easier to handle. You just press it in to the wreath form, making a well in the center. Later on, you can put your soil in there.

Shelley:
Where do you get sheet moss?

Steinmann:
At garden centers. Then, when you have it completely filled like this one, you add your mix.

Shelley:
You've overlapped the edges of the sheet moss so you're not seeing any of the wreath form.

Steinmann:
Right. And also, when you sandwich your two halves together later, it'll fold the soil in from the sides. Now, what you want to use is potting soil that's very fine textured. This is a peat-light mix, something that you'd use to start seedlings in.

Shelley:
So, don't use something that's muddy or heavy.

Steinmann:
Right. And it's been moistened just slightly so you can put it in here. Pat it in gently, but firmly, then it sticks together since it's kind of moist.

Shelley:
You'd do that all the way around. I'm assuming that you'd have to do that for two halves.

Steinmann:
Right. You make two halves.

Shelley:
And there they are, finished.

Steinmann:
Now, you need to put these together. And if you notice, it's mounded just slightly in the center so that when you do sandwich them, you have good contact between the two halves. Then, you just lift them up like that. Now, you're ready to wire it together.

Shelley:
That wasn't so hard. It looked complicated, but it was pretty easy. So, then, you wrap wire around it?

Steinmann:
Yes, you just spiral the wire around it. You can use any kind of wire that's flexible. If you do want to hang it later, I'd recommend using copper wire because it doesn't rust, so the wreath won't fall off your wall.

Shelley:
Oh, yeah, good idea. I'm feeling something on the back. It looks like this another wreath form.

Steinmann:
I've added another form right to the bottom. It gives you something to actually hang the wreath from. It also gives a little space so the wreath and moss aren't right against your wall or counter top.

Shelley:
So, if it's a little damp, it's not sitting right there. So, now I'm ready to start sticking plants in?

Steinmann:
Yeah, now that's the fun part.

Shelley:
Good.

Steinmann:
What I would recommend, first of all, is to put in your larger cuttings and space them kind of randomly around the wreath. Then you fill in with the smaller ones, like this.

Shelley:
Filling in the holes, basically.

Steinmann:
Right. This is a form of Burro's tail, also. You'd take a stick like this, or a pencil or a chopstick, whatever you have, poke a hole wherever you need to be and then just insert the cutting.

Shelley:
That's simple. You just do that until you've filled in all the holes.

Steinmann:
That's right.

Shelley:
Since this hasn't rooted yet, do I have to worry about taking care of it.

Steinmann:
Well, it takes approximately four weeks for the cuttings to root. So, you don't want to hang it on your wall until that time. And you will have to water it, also. About every two weeks, put the whole wreath into the sink and pour water over it until it absorbs.

Shelley:
Now, is that the same treatment that I do for a finished wreath?

Steinmann:
Yes, it is. Water it about every two weeks. And succulents like a lot of sun, so you want to put it in a bright, sunny spot, a south window is perfect.

Shelley:
And will it stay in this shape, then?

Steinmann:
You'll have to do some pruning, occasionally. Probably, once a month, go through and prune the taller cuttings.

Shelley:
Okay, just to keep it in this form. They'll get leggy in low light. If it gets real leggy, do I have to just give up on this whole thing and throw it out.

Steinmann:
Oh, absolutely not. You can make a beautiful dish garden, Shelley, just like this one, here.

Shelley:
Beautiful.

Steinmann:
This was a wreath. We simply took a large pot with cactus mix and nestled the whole wreath right into it. Then, the plants root right through the bottom.

Shelley:
That would make a wonderful gift, too.

Steinmann:
It would.

Shelley:
Thanks, Sue.

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