A live wreath to go with your live tree

From succulents to air plants, living holiday wreaths grow on you.

Wreath with Tillandsia from Green Gardens
  • Wreath with Tillandsia from Green Gardens

This year, I want a live wreath to go with my live tree.

“We always have fresh wreaths on hand,” said Daniel Ferretti, general manager of Wholesale Flowers & Supplies in Linda Vista (619-295-4333; wholesaleflowersandsupplies.com). “We have the basic green wreaths, which are made from three evergreens: cedar, Noble Fir, and a unique yellow-tipped cedar. They range in size from 10 to 60 inches, but the most popular are 20 inches [$12.99] and 24 inches [$15.99]. We have a huge store, full of design supplies. You can browse and pick out elements to add to your wreath at home, or you can bring them to our design department, and we’ll assemble it for you.” And as the name implies, “our prices are all wholesale to the public. We’re one of those hidden secrets of San Diego.”

This Christmas season, said Ferretti, burlap is proving to be the design element of choice. “It’s very rustic. We have burlap bows, burlap flowers, and burlap Christmas ribbons. Besides that, we do a lot of wreaths with feathers right now, and we’ve done some wreaths with mini poinsettias in pots that are tucked into the greens. But you have to remember to water the poinsettias. And there’s an ocean-themed wreath that uses starfish instead of poinsettias. It looks very cool.”

Green Gardens designers Chrissy Mack and Patsy Eppler

Green Gardens designers Chrissy Mack and Patsy Eppler

Over at Green Gardens in Pacific Beach (858-483-7846; sdgreengardens.com), creative director Patsy Eppler told me that “Tillandsia, which is an air plant, is really popular right now. There must be 150 varieties of the plant. They have a grassy look, there’s a curl to the leaves, and they can range from dark green to bluish in color. The plant literally takes its moisture and nutrients from the air, though I recommend misting them once in a while. You can wire them or glue them to a wreath, and we’re planning on using them in some succulent wreaths that have a Christmasy feel.”

Succulent wreaths, assured Eppler, “are not that hard to make. You start with a wire wreath and line it with moss — I usually wet it first. You fill the moss with soil and then pack more moss on the back; you want to get it as tightly packed as possible. Then I use a pencil to poke holes in the moss. I take my succulents, shake off all the dirt, and push them into the hole, using a little more wet moss to hold it in place. I do that over and over again until the wreath is full. It’s a labor of love. I recommend you keep it flat for 10 days or so to let the succulents take root. Then you can hang it: there’s a back to the wreath frame that clips on.”

If you don’t have that much time or love to spare, Eppler recommends getting a basic green wreath from a grocery store, then gluing succulent cuttings onto that. “They’ll live, because they’re succulents. You can use tacky glue. It takes about 18 hours to set. I made one for a lady last year, and she said they lived for six months without water.” (That said, she does suggest misting wreaths once a week to keep them green through the holidays.)

Eppler is happy to help customers design their own wreaths, and will even give advice on how to make them. But, she says, “Most people are so busy this time of year that they just want it done for them. So, I keep freshly made wreaths on hand in the store, as well as matching arrangements. I have traditional Christmas-style wreaths with berries and birds in the branches. And I like to add a touch of glitter to make them festive. And since we’re at the beach, I have some that use shells and mosaic tiles that are made by a local artist. Our smallest wreath is $24. Average price is probably $45, but the sky’s the limit, depending on size.”

Finally, I called Jodi at the Urban Seed Home & Garden in Old Town (619-584-7768; urbanseedstore.com). “Our wreaths vary in size, price, and material,” she said. “We have some very nice eucalyptus ones for $45; they have a very natural look, complete with seed pods. Our manzanita wreaths [$45] are lovely woven twigs of indigenous redwood. It’s pretty prized around here, because only a few people are allowed to grow it. The bark is red and the leaves are dark green.”

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