Making your own Christmas wreath helps you to get into the festive spirit. Why not include the children when gathering materials from the garden and for adding the finishing touches? Wreaths also make a great present for friends and neighbours.
Timing The weeks before Christmas
You can use the traditional ivy and holly with berries (or their variegated forms), spruce and pine, experiment with box, Magnolia grandiflora, osmanthus, Viburnum tinus and bay. For a more rustic wreath, you can use twisted stems of hazel, birch, dogwood, willow, honeysuckle and vines and decorate with rose hips or the fluffy seed heads of old man's beard (Clematis vitalba).
When to make a fresh wreath
Wreaths positioned outdoors will last four or five weeks, so preparations can begin in late November. Indoor wreaths will look fresh for one or two weeks, depending on how warm it is.
How to make a wreath
Assemble the materials: one wire ring*, one bag of sustainable sphagnum moss* (moss from your lawn usually works equally well), plenty of holly, cut into 12.5-15cm (5-6in) sections, one reel of 0.56mm annealed wire*, a 19g pack of 22.5cm (9in) Florists stubbing wire*, secateurs and a bow to decorate. You can use a pre-made padded wreath base* rather than making your own.
- Tease out the moss and lay a fist-sized bundle on top of the wreath ring
- Fasten one end of the reel of wire to the ring and start to wrap the wire around the moss in a circular fashion. Keep the wire taut and continue working the wire round the ring , adding more moss bundles until completely covered
- Lay the prepared greenery on top of the moss, adding one piece at a time in the same direction and securing it with a single wrap of wire. Overlap the holly to ensure no moss is visible and continue until the whole ring is covered
- Tie off the wire with a few extra wraps around the wreath then draw a longer piece of wire up to form a loop to hang the wreath and finish off with a bow
- You might like to use bunches of berries from holly, cotoneaster or ivy or even rose hips to add colour to the wreath
- Hang outside and keep the moss moist. It should last several weeks
* Available in florists etc
Pine wreath with cones
- Wire short sections of pine branches onto the pre-formed twig ring or moss ring with a loop for hanging
- Take an open cone and wrap the stubbing wire around the base of the cone and twist the ends together
- Place the cone on the wreath and push the wire through the ring, twisting the ends to secure. Cones look good clustered in threes and can be sprayed with fake snow or covered with glitter
Colour winter stem wreath
Willows and dogwoods grown for their winter stems make a great alternative wreath. No base is needed. Simply collect 12-15 young, flexible stems at least 1.5m (5ft) long.
- Take one stem and bend it into a circle about 30-40cm (12-16in) in diameter, twisting in the overlaps until it holds the circular shape
- Add the next stem, starting from the thicker end and twist it in and out the circle
- Continue with the remaining stems, making sure that the stems start slightly further along each time
- Add the wire loop and hang
Old man's beard (Clematis vitalba) 'tinsel' wreath
The fluffy seed heads of this hedgerow clematis make great natural tinsel.
- Cut short sections and push into the twig ring
- A blast of hairspray can prevent the seed heads breaking up
- This wreath is best indoors
Wreaths are generally trouble free but, with evergreen wreaths, the moss must be kept moist to prevent the foliage from withering and they last better outdoors, while those with clematis 'tinsel' do better indoors.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.