A Simple Succulent Wreath
Sun-tolerant plants make fun, easy project

June 18, 2009

by Mimi Saenz, Victoria County Master Gardener Intern

edited by Charla Borchers Leon, Victoria County Master Gardener
In addition to your plant selections, gather together a wire wreath frame, sheet moss, potting soil, rooting hormone, a medium gauge roll of wire and water mister. Tools include gardening scissors to trim plants and cut wire, and a pencil with which to poke holes.
Do you enjoy hassle-free gardening?

When watering becomes too much work, especially in the sweltering South Texas heat, succulent plants may be the answer to your low-maintenance gardening needs.

If you're looking for a creative way to incorporate your succulents into a fun project, why not try making a succulent wreath?

Succulents are sun-tolerant plants, which have either leaves, stems or roots that are capable of storing water for extended periods of time. A few common names are kalanchoes, hen and chicks, jade plants, cacti and rose moss, which most gardeners have around the yard or have easy access to. For added interest, select plants that bloom so that your wreath will always have a new look.

Plant selections

Many people automatically think of cacti when succulents are mentioned. While a cactus is a succulent, there are many other, and probably better, choices available to use for a succulent wreath. Non-thorny plants would probably make for a safer wreath. Your best bet is to visit the local nurseries to see what is available.

Two things to take into consideration are whether you would like the wreath to hang or lay around an object, such as a votive.

If it will be hanging, you may want to use trailing succulents, such as crassulas, portulacas or sedums.

If your wreath will be laying flat, upright or taller succulents will give it more dimension. Try using senecios, sempervivums, greenovias or kalanchoes.

Also take into consideration how contrasting colors will affect your wreath. You may want to lay out all cuttings and see their placement on the wreath before you actually do the planting. Keep in mind that the color of the sheet moss will be your backdrop, so you may want to use a contrasting color to make your cutting standout.

If you can't find a cutting in anything but green, consider whether it will bloom.

For Preparation

About two days prior to starting your wreath, decide what succulents you'd like to use and make several 2- to 3-inch long cuttings. Set them aside to scab over so the roots may have a base from which to form. In addition to your cuttings, you will need the following:

1. Gardening scissors (to trim succulents and cut wire)

2. Wire wreath frame (any size)

3. Sheet moss (8 oz. bag)

4. Potting soil

5. Rooting hormone (such as blue plant food)

6. Medium gauge roll of wire the same color as your sheet moss

7. Pencil (to poke holes with)

8. Water mister

Getting Started

Find a large work area. Remember that you'll be working with moss and soil, so it may get a little messy.

Lay out the sheets of moss and thoroughly mist them. Set aside.

Decide plant placement on the wreath. You may want to use the bigger plants as accents and smaller plants as fillers.

First frame the wreath with the moss sheets. In one hand, hold the wire wreath frame. In the other, take the wet sheet moss (brown/bark side on the inside) and start to fold it around the wire frame. Before completely folding the moss and securing it in place, grab a handful of potting soil and stuff it into the moss, placing the soil on top of the frame. Mist the soil after each stuffing. Hint: Allow 3 to 4 inches of wire to make a hook for hanging purposes before you start wrapping the wreath.

Using the wire, secure the moss sheets in place by wrapping it around the moss-covered wire frame. Hint: If you have some heavy or unusual-shaped plants that may need extra support, wrap them as you are covering the frame. Continue to wrap and stuff until the whole frame is covered with sheet moss and secured with wire.

Next, using the pencil, poke holes in the areas where you've decided to place your cuttings. Dip the cuttings in the rooting hormone and simply slip them into the holes. If a cutting is too long, you may have to trim it back. Also, if the hole is too big for the cutting stem, either wire it down or simply take another piece of sheet moss and secure it around the cutting then wire it into place. After all plants are in place, thoroughly mist the entire wreath.

Now what?

You are now ready to display your succulent wreath. Remember, succulents are heat-tolerant and require very little maintenance.

All you need to do to maintain your wreath is to water it every now and then. Most people have the tendency to overwater succulents, so water sparingly.

Your wreath may be hung in a sunny place or it will look just as lovely placed on an outdoor table, framing a hurricane votive, where it receives plenty of sun.

Easier than you think

As you stand back and admire your new creation, you will realize how simple it was to make your succulent wreath and you will be ready to make several more for family and friends to enjoy.

Secure wreath well, especially where sheets of moss intersect. If not, they may come apart during watering.

It may be necessary to trim succulents as they grow.

Rosette-type succulents - pinch off the root.

To shorten the plant, allow the end to scab over, and then replant.

Trailing-type succulents - pinch off ends as temperatures get hotter. It may be necessary to water wreath more often, but over watering is the easiest way to kill a succulent.

Be sure to let your wreath dry out between waterings.

For a new look, change out your plant selections with easy-to-root succulents.

For a unique look, visit your local nursery to see what's new in the world of succulents
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.