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Make a living wreath for a holiday centerpiece

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By Susan Brown, County Extension

When I first heard the term “living wreath,” I didn’t quite understand what that meant until I had an opportunity to see one. Of all the container gardens one can choose from, the succulent wreaths are among the most beautiful. It may take a little work to create one of these, but when you finish, you will have a living work of art.
Though succulent wreaths are most commonly used during holiday periods, they are very useful for special occasions as well, such as for weddings. They make ideal centerpieces for tables during wedding receptions. Besides their use on dining tables, succulent wreaths are often hung on doors and walls. Assuming hardy species are used, these would be suitable for outdoors from spring through the fall months.
It’s easy to mix succulents in an array of types and colors to craft an eye-pleasing pallet of textures and hues. Here are some step-by-step instructions if you start with a ready-made sphagnum moss wreath. You can also purchase a wire form and sphagnum moss liner separately.
The tools you will need are as follows: wire wreath form, long fiber sphagnum moss, potting mix, succulents and florist’s wire.
Wreath forms are available from craft supply stores in a number of different shapes that you can customize for your landscape. The wreath shape doesn’t affect its care, but the size does. Larger wreaths hold moisture better than small wreaths and will need less frequent watering.
Soak your sphagnum moss in water for an hour or so before you plant your wreath. Take a handful of moss and gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Pack the moss around the bottom and sides of your wreath form.
After you pack moss along the sides of your wreath form, fill it with potting mix. Leave an inch or so of space between the soil and the top of the moss. Moisten the potting mix slightly, remove the succulents from their pots, and arrange the plants as you like.
Tuck more moist moss between the plants to hold the potting mix in place. Try to tuck it in fairly tightly. Use clips or ties to secure the moss in place.
If necessary, wrap the wreath with florist’s wire (the wire’s green color will help hide it against the moss). Water the wreath after planting. Leave your wreath to lie flat for a week or so before hanging. For best results, place the wreath in a shaded spot.
Top plant picks for living wreaths include: Aeoniums, Rosary vine (Ceropegia), Crassulas, Echeverias, Euphorbias, Haworthias, Hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum), Kalanchoes, Sedums (groundcover types).
Hang your wreath using galvanized hardware to prevent rust. If you’ll be displaying your wreath on a wooden surface, such as a door, consider covering the back of the wreath with plastic attached with crafts pins to protect the wood from moisture.
Water your wreath when it feels dry, about every three to 10 weeks, depending on temperature and lighting. Soak the wreath in a container of water for at least one hour. Avoid misting or surface-spraying your wreath; this encourages shallow rooting, which weakens plants.