One of the things I was most excited about when we first moved into our current apartment was the fact that it had a working fireplace and mantle. I had all sorts of ideas about making cute garlands to hang on it every week or every month. That hasn’t exactly happened… but, I thought it would be a great thing to do as part of our Christmas decorations this year!
We don’t usually set up a tree because we are generally visiting family on Christmas day so I thought a garland would be a nice touch. I purchased some succulent cuttings from Waterwise Botanicals for some wedding favors I made a few weeks ago. I was really inspired by the Portulacaria afra branches, the beautiful white Senecio haworthii, Aeonium arborescens cabernet, and the Echeveria agavoides. The reds, whites and greens all looked so pretty together! So, I decided to put together a somewhat a-traditional Christmas garland using only succulents. Here’s how I did it!
I used a variety of succulent cuttings, floral wire, and wire cutters. You really don’t need much to make this.
To make the base of the garland, I attached a bunch of the Portulacaria afra branches together using wire. I cut short pieces of wire, overlapped the branches, and wrapped the wire around both branches. I found out quickly that the wire didn’t need to be very tight for two reasons. The first, if I wrapped it too tight it would break through the branch. The second, even if the branch didn’t break it wasn’t able to move or create a pretty shape when I tried hanging it up. So, somewhat loosely wrap the wire around two branches. Continue to do this until you have a strand the desired length. I made two strands of the same length and hung them up together to create a more full looking garland.
After I had the base ready, I attached individual branches of the Portulacaria afra in different varieties to the base. This helped it to look a little less uniform and more like the pine garlands you see. Having the variegated varieties really looked nice as it gave it just a hint of color variation.
To attach the base to the mantle, I used 3M Command Hooks and wire. I put the Command Hooks on top of the mantle (rather than vertical like you would on a wall). I then wrapped a piece of wire around the garland base and then to the hook. This worked really well and is quite secure.
At this point the garland was just one big swag. I decided to create a focal point in the center of the garland using the other succulents I mentioned earlier. Again I used wire to attach these to the garland base. As I created this part, I realized that the weight of the succulents was going to cause it to hand in a weird way (the weight pulled everything forward and down). So, I got it put together how I thought it would look best and then pulled the center up to the mantle and attached it to another Command Hook. I probably could have started with the center pulled up in the first place and it may have been easier to get everything looking just right. Honestly, the center was the hardest part of the whole garland.
To finish off, I picked out two somewhat large succulent cuttings and used them to cover the Command Hooks on the sides (the one in the center was already covered by the focal succulents). I also added a few cuttings throughout the rest of the garland, again attaching them with wire.
Overall I’m really pleased with how it turned out! I love how Christmasy it feels without using your traditional Christmas garland materials. I think it would look great year round too, although I’d probably use more color varieties instead of just red, white and green.
I’m hoping it will survive through Christmas without a lot of care on my part. There really isn’t a good way to water it so I’m hoping that it doesn’t dry out. I have misted it once just to see how that works but I’m not sure it will actually help. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens!
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