We've experimented with using succulents as Halloween decor fit for Miss Havisham and as living Christmas tree ornaments. This season we found yet another way to enjoy the versatile low-maintenance succulent: as a do-it-yourself wreath. Easy and fun, this long-lasting decor will see you through the holiday and on into the new year. Full instructions below.
Photographs by Justine Hand. Photography shot with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 digital SLR camera. Small in size, enormous in performance.
Above: My Succulent Wreath Kit 12-inch Diameter from Succulent Salon arrived complete with everything I needed to make my own 12-inch wreath: a 10-inch moss ring, a variety of succulent plants, pins, and detailed instructions; $59. Note that you can also buy a Succulent Wreath from Succulent Salon; from $59 to $85.
Above: After you unpack your supplies and lay out all the specimens, the next step is to trim the bottom leaves off each plant, leaving a solid inch of stem to insert into your wreath.
Above: Next, using a sharp tool (I used a meat thermometer), punch a hole into the moss base.
Above: Then, gently insert the succulent into your hole.
Above: For longer specimens, it may be necessary to pin them to the wreath.
Above: As I layered my plants in an extemporaneous fashion, my wreath began to take shape. The whole, zen-like process took less than an hour.
Above: Newly planted, my wreath enjoyed a good 15-minute soak.
Above: When the succulents are planted and watered, lay them on a flat surface for three weeks allowing the plants to take root. Fortunately, the wreath is equally pretty viewed this way. You could even use it as a centerpiece.
Above: About three weeks later, my living wreath was ready for Thanksgiving festivities.
Above: With proper care, my finished wreath (shown here adorned with a simple velvet, indigo ribbon from Anthropologie), will continue to grow and thrive for a long time. To keep its shape, I can simply snip off any gangly ends and reinsert them into the wreath.
DIY Succulent Wreath
- 60 small succulent plants
- wire-backed moss form
- pointy object such as a skewer or chopstick
- clippers or scissors
- ribbon or wire for hanging
The easiest thing to do before you start is to order a complete kit, such as the one I purchased from Succulent Salon; $59. Not only were Lois' instructions easy to follow, but I was able to customize my order to include the plants I wanted (a selection of aubergine black aeoniums, with heathery blue and sage plants). You also may order your plants and moss base a la carte from Succulent Salon or at a local nursery.
My cuttings arrived from Succulent Salon ready for planting. If you buy them from some place else, it may be necessary to "heal" your stems to deter rotting. To do this, simply trim the ends and let them set out for a day.
Inserting the plants: Taking your sharp implement (I used a meat thermometer), poke a hole in the moss form. If the stem is too wide, it may be necessary to snip some of the netting around the moss. Then gently insert the succulent stem into the hole until the bloom rests against the wreath. Then select your next plant, positioning it quite close (from 1 to 1.5 inches apart) so that you get a nice full wreath, with no net showing. Repeat until the whole wreath is filled. Be sure to keep your wreath relatively horizontal while inserting your succulents, so that the plants don't fall out.
Note: Rather than trying to plan out my whole composition beforehand, I found it easier to choose a few focal plants (for me it was the black aeoniums) and decide approximately where along the wreath I wanted these to go. From there I just worked extemporaneously, selecting each new specimen based on how well it related to those closest to it.
After your wreath is complete, place it in a basin of water filled enough to reach half way up the side of the wreath, and let it soak for 15 minutes. Once the wreath is saturated, remove it from the water and lay it horizontally on a waterproof surface (I chose a pristine white platter), out of direct sun. Leave your wreath for at least three weeks until the plants have rooted securely to the moss base. If weather allows and you want to hang your wreath outside, then it is best to acclimate it during the third week by moving it into the sun. Continue to keep your wreath moist during the rooting period.
Then hang your wreath and enjoy!
Continued care: When your wreath becomes dry, be sure to water it by placing flat in water again. To maintain the vibrant color, add a fertilizer to the water once a year in spring. Indoor wreaths should be placed in a south facing window and, weather permitting, should be moved outside for at least a week every 30 to 45 days. Outdoor wreaths should be hung in good light (morning and/or filtered sun) and protected from frost. When your plants grow unruly, they can be snipped back and reinserted into the wreath.
N.B.: Can't get enough succulents? We can't either. Explore all of our creative uses for these versatile plants. And: There are more ways to get creative this holiday season. Check all out our favorite DIY décor.