DYI Wreaths


The Pacific Northwest abounds with plant materials that work well to make decorative wreaths for winter holidays. Think first of Douglas fir, Shore Pine, and Cedar; all native to this area. Noble fir is classic, and others of those families are often available. Avoid spruce and hemlock, which drop needles if kept out of water.

Many of our landscape plants can be combined with the natives or used alone as well. Chamaecyparis of many varieties give wonderful texture and a punch of blue or golden color for variety. Juniper is long lasting, but beware those that have a disagreeable odor if your wreath will be indoors or at your front entrance. Almost any evergreen shrub or hedge plant is fair game for snipping. For wreath making, you need cut only six inches or so of the tips.

Broadleaves of camelia, rhododendron, holly and such leathery types add a lovely contrast of broad and smooth to the more finely cut and feathery evergreens. Evergreen huckleberry also lasts well, and the fine twigs of deciduous (red berried) huckleberry can be worked in for another delicate touch.

Add cones of any sort, perhaps twigs with moss or lichen, and anything else that strikes your fancy as you scrounge around your yard or neighborhood. Cut your materials into pieces around six inches in length, using the most attractive tip growth.

I prefer a wreath form that has two parallel wires attached at intervals, but any round shape, even a bent clothes hanger, can be made to support your choices. Use #22 or #24 wire on a continuous paddle for attaching. Connect the end to the base. Select several pieces of plant materials and gather the ends into a cluster. Lay the cluster on the support and wrap the wire securely around the bottom of the material and the base.

Do not cut the wire, but lay another cluster with the tips hiding the previous wrap and wrap it also. Continue in this fashion until you have worked all the way around the form and tuck the last cluster under the tips of the first, wiring snugly before securing and cutting the wire.

The more densely you add your materials, the fuller the wreath will be. If it doesn’t suit you, back up, unwrap, and layer your clusters more closely or use larger clusters. You can add cones or other ornaments with short pieces of wire afterward if you wish.

To make the wreath remain fresh longer, spray it with a commercial product designed to prevent wind damage to evergreens in the landscape. You may find this at a local nursery. Wreaths hanging outdoors in damp weather stay fresh much longer than any used indoors, so limit the indoor use to special events only. Dry plant materials are extremely flammable. Use common sense in displaying your creations.

Happy Wreath Making!

Karen Brown

Recent Posts