Greenery wreaths of fir and cedar boughs define the winter season. Adorned with pine cones, red berries, or dried fruit, they are a common fixture on front doors to welcome the winter visitor. But if you’re after a wreath that’s more alive, an actual growing thing, then creating a living wreath is for you.
Many crafters and gardeners use succulents to make these wreaths. Hardy beyond belief, these plants can withstand drought, heat, and shallow soils and they are easily transplanted from cuttings for simple growing. But if you’re up for a little more of a challenge or maybe something a little more hybrid, consider creating a living and flowering wreath instead.
You’ll want to choose low-growing plants or ground covers for your living wreath. Varieties in the genera Veronica, Ajuga, Thymus, Prunella, and Arenaria are just a few of the many types available in nurseries or from plant catalogs. Even pansies or nasturtiums could work if you’re limited by what is in stock.
Using seeds to grow these from scratch is also an option, as well as transplanting mosses, especially the ones that grow in soil. Or, try some low-growing bulbs like Crocus or Anemone.
Create a Base
Before you can plant your wreath, you'll need a base. Get an extra deep wreath form or ring (some stores sell them as cone wreath rings), some sphagnum moss, and potting soil as well as your chosen plants or seeds. Landscape fabric is handy too, as it helps hold in some moisture and contain the roots.
You’ll want to line the inside of the cone wreath with a thin padding of sphagnum peat moss. The wreath ring should be several inches deep to accommodate some soil and the moss. This padding helps hold the soil in place and absorb some of the excess moisture. If you’re thinking about hanging your wreath, you’ll also have to place some cardboard or other stiff material to help dam up the soil and keep it from sloughing down to the bottom of the ring.
You can line the outside of the ring with some landscape cloth as an extra barrier. To get the proper amount, place the wreath ring upside down on a section of cloth to create a pattern. Mark a circle around the ring with chalk, placing several inches of padding between your outline and the actual ring, to provide a cutting guide. The cloth can be stitched onto the ring with fishing line or even glued in place and trimmed to size.
Next, fill the wreath with good potting soil mixed with a little soil moisture-retention additive. Several varieties of this additive are available at nurseries or garden centers, designed for container gardening.
Once the ring is complete, it's time to insert your plants into the soil. Try not to place everything in the middle of the ring; add some plants at an angle to promote that cascading growth. Don’t insert the plants right next to each other either. Give them a little space to grow and fill in the blank spots.
Give the whole wreath a good watering after planting is finished, but don’t flood it out. Then, tamp down the soil around the plants or cuttings to protect the roots and encourage their establishment. Lay the wreath flat to minimize soil shifting and to give the plants time to get settled. Continue to water as needed and enjoy your flowering centerpiece!