These days the holiday season is upon us before the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are stashed in the refrigerator. With gifts to buy, parties to plan, and another big meal around the corner, you can save money by creating DIY holiday wreaths and garlands. All you need is a 16- to 18-inch wire wreath form, some floral wire, and plant material. For a garland, you will want a ¼-inch thick rope or cord on which to wire the plant material.
What garden plants should you use for Christmas wreaths? Traditionally, Western red cedar, noble fir, white pine, and incense cedar boughs are used for Christmas wreaths. If you are fortunate enough to have these trees growing on your property, gather the branches and trim the plant material to similar lengths, depending on how tight and full, or long and drooping you want the wreath or garland to look. The branches and leaves will typically be cut to a length of 4 to 6 inches long for most wreaths.
If you prefer a silvery, blue wreath, blue spruce is another conifer that can be used in Christmas wreaths and garlands. Preparing the plant material is the same as for the evergreen branches above. Finishing the wreath with accents of small, silver Christmas balls and a wide ribbon that is silver, blue, or teal-blue results in an elegant holiday wreath you’ll be proud to have created.
English holly is another garden plant that has become synonymous with the Christmas holiday, but English holly (Ilex aquifolium) is invasive in some parts of the country such as the Pacific Northwest. An alternative plant, with a similar leaf shape and texture is Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki.’ It has shiny, variegated leaves. If English holly is invasive where you live, use Osmanthus instead. Small bunches of Osmanthus can be wired into a wreath in combination with the evergreen boughs of cedar and fir mentioned above. The texture and color contrast are lovely together.
Ponderosa pine cones are the pinecones typically used in holiday wreaths and garlands. They are fairly compact and stiff, and can be wired into your wreath frame either in pairs or individually. Wrap some floral wire around the widest end of the pinecone, slip the wire through the evergreen boughs, and wire it onto the frame. If you do not have Ponderosa pine growing on your property, the cones can be purchased, scented or unscented, in bulk through online vendors. If you want a longer pinecone, you can use the cones of white pine, which are usually about 4 to 5 inches long and look great wired to a wreath frame as a pair.
If you live in a warmer climate, perhaps in the South, consider using plants such as Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Southern magnolia can be used to create a spectacular wreath. The shiny, green leaves are large and impressive. To add interest, turn some of the leaves over so their fuzzy, brown underside is visible.
Whether you choose Western red cedar, noble fir, or Southern magnolia, putting your DIY skills to work will result in a Christmas wreath or garland uniquely yours. When your holiday guests ask where you bought that lovely wreath, you can proudly tell them you made it yourself.