Use Succulents

There are various ways to create a living wreath, but using succulent plants like Sedum, Sempervivens, Kalanchoe, Dudleya, Crassula and Prometheum, which is a form of Crassula, makes a nice living wreath arrangement. Succulents are drought tolerant and easy to propagate - two main reason these plants are used. Also, you don't need to buy plants, but can take cutting from the garden or potted plants. These provide an easy source of material, although you'll want to make sure there is some diversity.

Though succulents are the preferred source of living wreath material, other plants that are groundcovers or low growing plants may also be used. These will have to be watered more often than the succulents and will die back in winter.

Building the Base

baseTo build a living wreath base you need just sphagnum moss and some type of wire or vine base. This base can be a specialized living wreath ring that resembles the skeleton of a Bundt cake pan, a double wire ring or a rearranged coat hanger. Size and shape of the base may also be variable from circular to square to a cross or an 'X'; the only limitation is anchoring the moss to the wire. Grape or hop vines may also be used to make bases.

Whatever form is used, the succulents need a medium to grow in. Sphagnum moss provides an excellent substrate for these plants. Soaking the moss makes it easier to work with, but remember to wring out excess moisture. Using fishing line or florist wire, wrap a layer of moss along the bottom of the base. Flip the wreath base over and add another layer on top. This will provide some depth that the succulents can root into. Sometimes a thin layer of potting soil may be added between the moss layers to provide some more structure. Even dipping the cuttings in rooting hormone can be used.

Adding Plants

A few days before creating your living wreath, separate or clip the succulents. Allowing the cut stems to scab over makes them easier to insert into the wreath. These stems will sprout roots and allow the plants to
anchor themselves into the base. Sorting out your cut succulents prior to inserting them also gives you a material estimate. Some wreath makers like to do a "dry run," laying out the succulents in a pattern to view their design.

When you are ready to go, use a small pencil, chopstick or scissor blade to create a small incision into the moss to insert the succulent. Remember that some of the succulents are fragile and the stems may break. Don't discard these broken pieces but lay them on moist seedling mix to sprout and form future plants.

Starting at a point, work clockwise or counter clockwise placing plants into the base. Leave a little space between plants - this allows them room to grow. The green moss will fill in the backdrop spaces. If there are gaps, insert some smaller succulents into these spaces.

Time to Grow

flatKeeping the living wreath flat for several weeks allows the roots to take hold; however, if the wreath needs to be hung sooner, use bobby or floral pins to hold the plants in place. Bobby pins are inexpensive and can be hidden by the plants or moss.

Once the plants have rooted, the wreath can be hung inside or out. To keep the plants alive you'll have to water the wreath occasionally, maybe once or twice a month depending upon its location. Placing the wreath in the garden where it receives incidental irrigation spray is another way to insure the wreath gets watered. Moving the wreath indoors in winter makes a great centerpiece or wall hanging and a reminder of the gardening year ahead.