From the Desk of Ed Hume: Making Your Own Wreaths and Swags

December 6, 2010 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

Ever thought of making your own wreaths or swags?  It’s easy, fun, and gives you a chance to improve or develop your own creative skills and save some money at the same time.  Also, you quite often can find enough greens right in your own garden to make your own wreath or swag.

If you can’t find enough greens from your own garden, you’ll generally find a wide selection of pre-cut greens at stores that sell green goods, such as nurseries, garden centers, plant departments, and florists.  It’s not unusual for these types of businesses to feature cut tree branches of pine, fir, cedar, cut holly, pine cones, and other interesting materials for making swags and wreaths.

Start by making a trip through the garden to see what you might be able to trim here and there to use in a wreath or swag.  Often you’ll find plant material you wouldn’t even think of using for that purpose.  For example, in the past I have used the colorful foliages of Dusty Miller, variegated juniper and cypress greens, nandina, and even heather.  Plus, you can use the branches of plants with berries like cotoneaster, firethorn, and beauty berry.

The Winter-flowering Sasanqua camellias and Winter-flowering heather are showy in wreaths and swags.  The only problem is that the flowers generally don’t last too long.   Look around, and I am certain you’ll find some really interesting greens and Winter flowers you can use that are right there in your garden.

Incidentally, these greens and flowers are excellent to use in making centerpieces or Winter floral arrangements as well.  Place them in a container that holds water and the greens will last considerably longer.

Avoid using soft needled tree greens such as cedrus deodara or the Atlantic cedar, because the needles of these types of trees/plants shed (drop off) very quickly.

It is a good practice to treat the greens with a preservative before using them for decorative purposes, as it should help to keep them from drying out too quickly, thus lessening the chance of creating a fire hazard.  There are several brands that are used for this purpose.  The staff at your local nursery, garden center, or plant department can show you the one they recommend.  Over the years, I have used “Wilt Pruf,” which is an anti-transpirant and a natural pine-emulsion that is non-hazardous, organic, and biodegradable.  However, I hesitate to mention it because not every store carries that particular brand.  Be certain the brand you use dries to forms a transparent and flexible coating.  Most products come in a “ready to use” sprayer, so all you do is lightly spray the greens.  Of course, read and follow application directions on the label of the particular product you use.

My wife uses a lightweight wire to gather and hold the greens together when making a swag or wreath.   However, some homeowners simply staple the greens to a wooden (often plywood) backing.

As I mentioned earlier, it is fun and easy to use some of the cut greens, flowers, and berries from your own garden for holiday decorating.


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Clip of the Week: Indoor Flowering Plants Ed’s Podcasts: Living Christmas Trees

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