Didn’t get a chance to join our #GAworkshop last weekend at the Garden Apothecary shop, in Half Moon Bay, CA?
Read on to learn about the simple secrets of how to make your very own Succulent Wreath. Basically, there are 5 simple steps to creating your custom, healthy, gorgeous wreath – perfect to don your doorway, live in your living room or excite your office!
Step 1 – Gather Your Goods.
Step 1 is the easy step! All you will need as a base, is a pre-made wreath form. I have found an inexpensive but super durable form, from this company: http://www.amazon.com/Sphagnum-Moss-Wreath-living-wreath/dp/B00112466A/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A1PD5R3ZI7U535
Once you’ve procured your wreath form and pins (pins are not necessary if the cuttings have been inserted properly, but they help), it’s time to gather your succulent cuttings. The easiest way to do this is to simply pluck cuttings that are thriving in your garden, cutting the stems about 3″ in length.
Oh, no succulent garden in your back yard? No prob. There are many places to find cuttings.
Walk down the block and see if a friendly neighbor, grocery complex or retail shop will share any of their cuttings. Often times succulents are grown right under our noses and we don’t even notice them! Scope out the local supermarket or that beautifully landscaped house on the block. Most succulent growers are thrilled to share – since they grow in abundance and often can take over! Another easy place to look and ask is a local nursery or flower center.
You will need about 12 medium to large (2-3″ in diameter each) pieces of succulent cuttings, and about 10 – 15 smaller pieces. Pieces that have woody, strong but thinner stems are the best. If you are ordering online be sure to ask for those characteristics in the cuttings. If you convo with the shop owner about how you are using the cuttings, they should totally understand and get you the best ones.
My favorite varieties to use in wreaths are:
Echeveria (use multiple types)
Sedum (the smaller kind cascades nicely)
Jade (variegated if you can find it)
Aeonium (black is always gorgeous against the green/blues)
Step 2 – Soak.
Next, you will need to prep your goodies by soaking them in water. I find using a bucket to soak the wreath is the easiest (if you are water conscience, take the wreath in the shower with you to save on water usage) but a hose will do, too. Be sure to lay the wreath flat and fully saturate with water. This should take about 1-2 minutes, no more. Don’t over saturate, as the moss will start to become soggy and messy – too hard to work with. If you have over saturated, just let it dry out for about an hour or so.
Next take your succulent cuttings and clean off any excess dirt, debris and dead or yellowing leaves from the stem and the base of the “head”. You can do this with your finger, by just pulling off any dried bits that might get in the way of the stem inserting clean in the wreath form.
You will also want to wash off and soak the cuttings in order to clean and hydrate them. Again, a bucket (or the shower) for a minute or so. Give them a good shake to whisk away any excess water. Some folks like to “harden-off” the cuttings before they plant them – I don’t. Mostly, because I’m too lazy. I find that fresh cuttings work just as well as hardened-off ones.
Once the wreath and cuttings are watered, lay them flat and organize by variety and color.
Step 3 – Arrange.
Think of this step as you would a flower arrangement.
Where will the wreath live?
Is it for a party or holiday?
What type of exposure will it get?
For my wreath, I knew it was going to hang on my front door – which gets morning sun and afternoon part sun. I hammered a copper nail to the door and made a note in my Google Calendar to remind myself to take it down and water it twice a month. My front door is white, so my color options are open.
I arranged the larger succulents into groups towards the bottom of the wreath, eying where they would look nice. Then I roughly arranged the smaller cuttings around the rest of the wreath form, generally placing them where they might look best.
Step 4 – Install cuttings.
Once your prep is complete and you have roughly eyed where you think the cuttings will look the best, you can get started planting! I tend to start planting the larger cuttings first by inserting the wreath with a sharp, clean pair of clippers (the ones I used on the cuttings). The secret is to not make the hole too big, make it just wide enough to get the stem in. Once the stem is in the moss hole, you can twist it fully in, securing it down with mild force. A large nail to make the holes will work, too. Make the holes per the size of your cuttings, one at at time.
Be sure to cut the stems if they are too long, and hold them by the head gently to twist them into the hole. If you made a mistake, or the hole is too large and the cutting isn’t staying in – simply remove it and start a new hole in a different part of the wreath. Give the wreath a bit of time to recover that hole (it’s a bit mushy and will bounce back) and go back to it in a few minutes.
Continue to turn the wreath and look from all angles so that you have fully planted the entire form.
Step 5 – Finish and hang.
Your wreath is now almost complete! For the last step, you can hold the wreath up to make sure nothing is falling out from being to heavy or not inserted enough. If you need to pin some of the cuttings you can do so – but don’t stab into the leaves, pin around them. Your wreath should lay flat in a sunny location for about 4 weeks before you hang it – although I rarely do! Normally, if planted correctly, you can hang right away.
Feel free to add a lovely silk ribbon or twine hanger to the wreath for some added color and hanging support.
Depending on your exposure and weather, water about 1-2 times per month, until it’s fully saturated. Your wreath is living – so mostly keep them outside in full to part sun. Your wreath is a living, breathing little creature – treat it with loving care! Once it grows too big for the form or for your aesthetics – simply pull it a part and start again! You will find the wreath should hold up fine and you will have a lot more cuttings then when you started.
*Pics by Rob & Dahlia Co