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The 6 Best Evergreens for Live Holiday Wreaths

This blog post briefly explains how to make a live holiday wreath and list the best evergreens for live holiday wreaths. It analyzes each plant material’s pros and cons, gives ideas for additional decorations, and hopefully inspires your own creativity to make a unique and beautiful holiday wreath. For more information, please visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens website.

Live holiday wreaths are elegant and classic home decor. In today’s fast paced culture, wreath making is a dying art, but making your own holiday wreath is simple, cheap, and you probably have trees and shrubs already in your yard that you can use! It’s a great winter activity to partake in with your kids, grandkids, parents, sibling, or significant other while simultaneously getting your nature fix in the cold winter months.

How to make a live holiday wreath, paddle wireHow to make a live holiday wreath


As I mentioned before, making a holiday wreath is simple and cheap, especially if you use greenery harvested from your yard. To make a wreath, you need a frame, paddle wire, scissors, greenery, and any decorations your heart desires. The frame and paddle wire can be purchased most places that craft supplies are sold, including Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Once you have your materials, tie the end of your paddle wire on the frame. Gather a bundle of greenery and lay it on your frame while wrapping the paddle wire around the base of the bundle to tightly secure it to the frame. Don’t cut your paddle wire until the very end, as this will help the process flow more smoothly. After your first bundle is secure, simply start layering in more bundles until you have made it all the way around your frame as illustrated in the photos above. Perhaps the hardest part about making a live holiday wreath is choosing what greenery to start with!


Arborvitae wreath, live holiday wreath

#1: Arborvitae

Arborvitae make an excellent choice for wreath making because they will not shed any needles like some of the more traditional options. Arborvitae have flat leaves. The lack of depth of arborvitae foliage is a good choice if you intend on adding a lot of additional decorations to your wreath. Since arborvitae have cultivars with yellow foliage, this gives you an additional color option that you can’t get with your classic conifers. The effect is a very regal wreath that appears almost golden. It is perfect option for an autumn or thanksgiving wreath.


white pine wreath, live holiday wreath 

#2 White Pine

              White Pine is a great choice for holiday wreaths. It will hold its needles for a long time without shattering, unlike spruce which will shatter almost immediately once you bring it inside to the warm temperatures. The texture of a white pine wreath is incredibly fine and will give your wreath a unique look. It appears silky smooth, and it actually feels pretty nice too! This makes it a great wreath option if you have kids running around the house and you don’t want them to poke themselves on something sharper like spruce or juniper.


Douglas fir wreath, live holiday wreath 

#3 Douglas Fir

              Douglas fir is another evergreen that will hold its needles for a long time. If you are going for the more traditional look, this is the way to go, since most Christmas trees on the market are Douglas fir. Douglas fir needles are flattened on one side and radiate on the other side, making it easy to lay them flat on your wreath frame while simultaneously giving you a good amount of volume. 



boxwood wreath, live holiday wreath 

#4 Boxwood

              Boxwoods have small leaves which makes a nice tidy looking wreath, if that is the style you are looking for. Additionally, boxwood leaves won’t shatter making them a long-lasting option. In ideal circumstances, a boxwood wreath could last up to 2 months. This wreath is perfect for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time for upkeep and revitalization of their wreaths throughout the season. Pair it with a strand of LED lights for a simple and elegant display.


red twig dogwood wreath, holiday wreath 

#5 Red Twig Dogwood

              One of my favorite new trends is holiday wreaths made with red twig dogwoods! Personally, I love red twig dogwood; I love anything with good winter interest. While this is not the route you want to go if you’re looking for a traditional wreath, I think this is great if you are looking to shake up your holiday decorations. The advantage to a wreath like this is that it will not drop leaves and leave a mess in your house.  You could also use yellow twig dogwood if you are feeling especially adventurous with your color palette.


holly wreath, live holiday wreath 

#6 Holly

              An obvious advantage to making a wreath with holly is, of course, the berries. The berries might fall before you are done displaying your wreath, so make sure you don’t have it hanging over a white carpet. This is one you will probably want to keep on your front door instead of inside the house. The shiny foliage creates a really stunning display especially if you incorporate variegated cultivars like the photo on the left. I do not recommend using deciduous holly as your only plant material, since the shelf life would be very short. However, deciduous holly berries incorporated into a wreath with something like fir or pine would be perfect.


 herb wreath, live holiday wreath, kitchen decor

BONUS: Herbs

              Another option you have at your disposal as the crafty gardener you are is to incorporate dried herbs into your wreaths. The wreath pictured to the left is made of both rosemary and lavender. The advantage to using herbs in your wreaths is definitely the fragrance. It’s also a fun addition to holiday décor in your kitchen, since you can pull pieces off to use as you cook. 

Any of the plants listed above would make a great holiday wreath, however they are by no means your only options. Don’t be afraid to mix and match evergreens to get a variety of textures in your wreath. Let your creativity flow! The best part about making your own live wreath is adding extra little decorations, yet another chance to be creative. You can use ribbon and decorations from the store, or you can scavenge in your yard some more. Things like dried hydrangea flowers, pinecones, grass seed heads, viburnum berries, or acorns make great additions. Other store-bought options are led lights, dried fruit, or cinnamon sticks. These items can be wired in as you make your wreath or wired in separately at the end.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with plants that you aren’t sure about. If it doesn’t work you can always replace it with something else latter. Most importantly, have fun. Connecting with nature in any way you can is a fun and fulfilling experience. Nothing will make you appreciate the plants in your yard more than finding a new and exciting purpose for them.

Have you gotten creative with a live wreath? Let us know in the comments!