In addition to their booth at this week’s Wood County Fair, two of Wood County’s Master Gardeners took
time Wednesday evening to provide a demonstration on making a "Living Wreath."
While most people think of wreaths as a seasonal item, especially Christmas wreaths, Joy Ortyl and Nancy
Kanipe showed how to make a wreath using live plants which not only can be enjoyed once, but year after
Ortyl took the lead in the demonstration which was held in the Home and Garden World building. She showed
the step-by-step process for those who were in attendance.
The process takes some advance planning as various materials, in addition to the plants, have to be on
hand and ready.
Her demonstration focused on a metal form which is coated with dark green vinyl. While she suggested she
had purchased hers locally a while back, she had not seen any locally this year. However, the forms are
available through various Web sites.
The form comes in two parts with the main section containing deep pockets to hold the soil for the plants
and the second piece a "lid" which snaps on the open side to hold all the material in place.
The living wreath also includes a liner. Although she wishes she had pre-cut the holes, Ortyl used a
cocoa fiber liner during her demonstration. She also noted that jute, moss or sphagnum can also be used.
If sphagnum is used, there may not be a need for potting soil as most plants can grow using just that
During her talk, Ortyl offered a variety of tips for assuring the living wreath will continue to hold its
beauty over a long period of time.
First of all, she stressed the importance of plant selection.
The plants selected should grow well in the area where the wreath is to be hung. They should also have
similar moisture requirements. In other words, if you’re going to plant in the sun, make sure all your
sun-loving plants like the same type of conditions to thrive, moist or dry soil, for example. Similarly,
use shade-loving plants if your wreath will be displayed in a shaded area at your home.
She chose to plant her demonstration wreath with the curved side up; however, it can also be done the
Among plants that do well in a living wreath are succulents, impatiens, ivy, ground covers. Popular
choices include sedums, hens and chicks, etc.
"You want plants which will grow to fill the spaces in the wreath," Ortyl said.
Ortyl suggested preparing the wreath outside if possible, as well as using a garbage can lid or something
similar underneath to catch excess soil.
After the form with liner is prepared, it’s time to start adding the plants. This is not much different
than planting in a flower box or the garden.
Once planted, Ortyl says to water it well. Not only the first time, but in subsequent waterings, she
suggests always to water the wreath with it laying flat.
"Take it down, water it well and slowly," she stated.
Ortyl noted if you try to water the wreath while it is hanging, it will not absorb enough water and will
you will waste more water than you need.
Two other suggestions involved not filling the wreath with soil, as the plants will have soil with them,
and to plan for the growth as the plants grow and fill out the wreath.
Kanipe showed a smaller living wreath she made previously using a sphagnum wreath form.
Among the plants she recommended were ground covers and what are referred to as "stuffables."
Her wreath also featured moss roses.
If one plants annuals, the wreath would need to be replanted each year.
"If you use perennials your wreath could last for years," Kanipe said.
While attending the fair, take some time and visit with some of the master gardeners in their booth along