Crafty / Holiday

Preserving Boxwood: How to and a Challenge

For a long time I’ve been coveting a square boxwood wreath.  Simply beautiful.

West Elm

Actually, if the price was right or someone would just hand one to me, I’d take a traditional circle wreath as well. 😉

Origin Crafts

Gorgeous right? But the price tag?  Ready for some sticker shock? They typically they start around $50.   Um, yeah, not doing that.  Granted it is very much a timeless decoration.  From Spring to Christmas, they are just simply beautiful.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I didn’t even make the connection until sometime this summer that we have 3 large boxwood bushes in our front yard! Can you believe?

At that moment I realized I could let the coveting end and get busy.

So, last week I finally started the process of preserving the boxwood to make a wreath of my own. The plan is to have the boxwood ready for the first week of December. Psst: It’s here!

I’ve seen many people make a boxwood wreath without the step of preserving, but I want mine to last.  Not that I don’t have an endless supply of boxwood.

But if you are going to go to the trouble of making something, it ought to last, by golly.

I took some small garden snips and started trimming the bushes.  They certainly could use a trim.  I can’t believe I actually kept my husband from trimming these bushes this year because I knew I wanted to preserve some boxwood.

I certainly could have let him trim the bushes this fall.  I was able to fill this grocery sack just by trimming the branches of the bushes that had grown together.  Silly me. 

Next, I mixed glycerin with hot water in a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin.  I also added green concentrated food coloring, a good two long squirts.

I decided to give my stems a good rinse before I set them to soak in the solution.  My greatest fear was inviting in some creepy crawly bugs in along with the boxwood.

I added the solution to mason jars and tucked in as many stems as I could.

I soon realized I had cut a lot more boxwood than I could fit into 6 mason jars. So I went hunting for alternative containers.  I also realized that something low and wide would probably be best.

And look, now I have an attractive arrangement whilst preserving my boxwood.  I just adore the natural simplicity.  I assure you, that as soon as these containers are emptied to make the wreaths, I’ll go cut some more to replenish.

I would recommend verifying your container is water tight though.  See this beautiful container?

While arranging the boxwood stems, I look down to see that I had green water all over the counter. Yikes! I quickly grabbed a bowl and dumped what liquid was left into the bowl.  This was probably better way to do it anyway.  Having a bowl inside used less of the water/glycerine mixture and by this time I had less. 😉

The savings of preserving your own boxwood is significant.  The glycerine, which I purchased at my local Wal-Mart, cost around $3.50 a bottle.  I used two.  The dye, was $1.79 from Hobby Lobby.

Now here’s the challenge.  You know you want one of those beautiful wreaths. So go out in your yard or your neighbors yard and do your own bush trimming and preserving.  Of course, you probably ought to ask permission if it’s not your bush. 😉  But given my experience, you can assure your neighbor they won’t notice a few missing stems.

Let’s meet back up in a couple weeks and we’ll make some wreaths.

Are you in?  Leave me a comment if you are and I’ll send you an email when the follow up post is ready!

Update: I’ve written the tutorial on How to Make a Square Boxwood Wreath here.

I’ll also want to update you all with a few tips from the process.

1. The stems that were in the jars didn’t do as well as the ones in the wide containers.  Several of the stems had a fuzzy mold on them.  I probably stuffed them too tightly.

2.  In order to make a wreath you will need a large amount of boxwood.  With the two containers and the jars I photographed I was able to make one wreath.

Spring Update:

My wreath turned brownish.  The leaves were still preserved, not brittle or crumbly, just not green anymore.

So, here’s what I did with my wreath.

If you scroll back and forth between the photos above you can hardly tell the difference.

I spray painted it using a green spray paint and a light green paint.  (I would avoid a gloss spray paint, but I happen to have this one on hand so I used it sparingly.)

Would I still do this again? Yes, most definitely.

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  • Cathy Sleeth
    November 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I'm in. But now, I must find some box woods to trim.

  • Cathy Sleeth
    November 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I'm in. But now, I must find some box woods to trim.

  • Karen
    November 21, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    I've got to try this I have three boxwood shrubs. Mine probably wont be ready for Christmas though. Thanks for the tutorial

  • Emma Kate at Painted Style
    November 22, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Oooh, intriguing! I think my neighbours hedge is boxwood. I shall kindly offer to trim it!

  • melissa@joyineveryseason
    November 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I always sigh longingly when I see boxwood wreaths in the store but I don’t even bother checking the price tag … I’m going to plant my own … who KNEW?! Love this – so simple but so pretty!

  • jessica
    November 24, 2013 at 12:27 am

    We bought boxwoods for our front lawn landscaping last year. This thought definitely crossed my mind. I'm excited to try it!

  • Cindy
    November 24, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Thank-you have been thinking about doing this myself!<br />

  • Cindy [email protected]
    November 24, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Thank-you have been thinking about doing this myself!

  • Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.
    November 25, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I must try this! I have boxwood in my garden too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous
    November 25, 2013 at 4:19 am

    I&#39;m in :)<br />[email protected]

  • Anonymous
    November 25, 2013 at 4:29 am

    I&#39;m in! I&#39;ve made my own wreath from my boxwood bushes, but didn&#39;t even think about using preserved boxwood. It quickly turned a golden color, which is very pretty on my green door, but I&#39;d like to know how to preserve my next one! <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /

  • Joni
    November 25, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Lovely. How long do you leave them in the preserving liquid?

    • Leslie Davis (too!)
      March 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      I was going to ask the same thing – I looked back over the post and still didn&#39;t see an amount of time the cuttings were left in the preserving liquid. Great way to upcycle a boxwood I plan to remove from the yard at our new house. Thanks!

  • Laura
    November 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I definitely want to know when you post your how-to! Thanks!

  • Laura
    November 25, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I definitely want to know about your upcoming how-to. Thanks!

  • leslie
    November 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    i&#39;m in!

  • Dana
    November 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I&#39;m definitely going to try this!!

  • Richella Parham
    December 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I want to play along! I LOVE using fresh boxwood, and I had no idea you could preserve it like this. Thanks so much for posting this! I&#39;ve pinned this and I&#39;m featuring you at this week&#39;s Grace at Home party! 🙂

  • Kim
    December 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I never knew glycerin was a preservative! Thank yo iso much for this information. I will be making one of these pronto! Yours turned out beautifully.<br />Kim@reposhture

  • Becky
    March 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    you can also use Wiltproof or Futura floor wax for preserving.

    If you like boxwood wreaths, try a boxwood Christmas Tree, just carve the shape into a brick of soaked floral oasis

  • Ami Awolf
    June 25, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Excellent Post – I will definitely copy this idea as I LOVE Boxwood. There is a spray, which while I type I can not remember, but it is suppose to do the same thing. Again, thanks for the post, now you have me wondering about other possibilities.

  • Virginia
    October 15, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    How long do you keep them in the preserving liquid?

    • Leslie
      October 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      At least three weeks. But like I say in the post, unlike ones you purchase, they do eventually change colors, but are not as brittle. Once mine changed colors, I spray painted it as described.

      • Beth
        July 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm

        You can buy floral spray paint that, I think, will make it look more natural. I’ve used it on hydrangeas, (not dried ones) to achieve a certain color blue for red, white and blue arrangements that I made for a military send off party – it worked very well. Sorry I can’t remember the name of it.

  • Victoria
    November 19, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    What type of dye did you use and where did you find it? I tried finding floral dye but have not had any luck? I asked for floral dye from hobby lobby but they did not have.

    • Leslie
      November 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Victoria, I used a concentrated dye found in the cake decorating section of Hobby Lobby.

  • Wendy T in Indiana
    November 24, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    We tried making these for my daughter’s wedding. The cuttings turned brown and moldy. Big fail. We ended up making the wreaths fresh a couple days ahead, then submerging them in a kiddie pool until the day of. Might try making one and painting it sometime.

    • Tony Pham
      December 12, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Add bleach to the solution to prevent fungus growth.

      • Leslie
        December 13, 2016 at 8:52 am

        Good Tip! Thanks!

        • Shelly
          July 22, 2018 at 11:49 am

          Add white vinegar instead of bleach.

          • Leslie
            July 27, 2018 at 7:37 am

            Good tip!!

  • […] to preserve your boxwood before making your wreath Paper Daisy Design have a simple recipe for preserving your wreath so it will last much longer.  This will need to be done two to three weeks […]

  • Kathy
    February 10, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I read on Wikipedia that if you make a fresh cut and pound the stem it will take up the preservative better and leave some room for air flow. I have boxwood bushes and I can wait to try this!

  • Darla
    June 24, 2017 at 10:24 am

    After preserving it, how long did it take before the wreath turned brown and brittle?

  • […] like to make your own boxwood wreath, there’s some great tutorials out there!  This one from Paper Daisy Design looks do-able (now I just have to grow a boxwood […]

  • Hannah
    July 19, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    What color spray paint did you use?

    • Leslie
      July 24, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      I don’t recall anymore, but it was a deep rich green.

  • Ellen
    November 22, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    Do you cover them in the glycerin and dye or just put ends of stems into it?


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