Written by: Megan Blatchford
Spend less money on tinsel and plastic Christmas decorations by opting for indigenous, natural decorations instead! Natural plant cones, foliage, flower heads and seed pods can make spectacular decorations with a bit of spray paint and glitter – if bling is your thing.
Here are 4 ideas for creating all natural Christmas decorations using South African plants:
1. An aloe Christmas tree
A Christmas tree can be made using a dried aloe flower stalk. Aloe flower stalks just happen to be dry and ready to pick at the end of November or early in December. One could paint it, decorate it or leave it ‘au naturel’. Care should be taken when hanging decorations from the aloe stalk, as they tend to be brittle and can break at the tips if not handled gently. Ribbons can be tied into bows on each tip to add a splash of colour.
2. Hanging decorations
The bases of dried Protea seed heads can be used to scatter around, or can be hung from the tree as the dried bracts resemble stars.
Leucadendron cones are attractive and can be used fresh or dried, hung from the Christmas tree. Dried agapanthus flower stalk heads can be sprayed gold or silver and arranged in a vase or hung from the ceiling or Christmas tree.
Dried brunsvigia flower heads are also very attractive when sprayed gold and hung from the ceiling. However, they are a bit too large to hang from the Christmas tree.
Leaves of the silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum) can be dried and scattered around, or other decorations can be made from these beautiful shimmering leaves. As an activity for children, decorative leaves can be glued onto circular pieces of cardboard to create hanging stars.
4. Plant wreaths and banners
Pyramidal oasis can be purchased and decorated with various indigenous foliage and flowers. Winddringtonia nodiflora, Podocarpus falcatus and Asparagus densiflorus as well as Stoebe plumosa make excellent foliage decoration as they dry well and add a variety of textures and colours. Wreaths can also be made using this foliage and decorated with dried cones.
Bauhinia seed pods tend to curl outward as they open and dry out to release seeds. Using florist wire and spray paint, these pods can be turned into a glistening banner to hang around the family room.
Some succulent leaves of cotyledon or even exotic echeveria add grey foliage, interesting shapes, and as decorations they last forever. Speaking of lasting forever, ‘everlastings’ (Helichrysum, Phaenocoma and Syncarpha) have gorgeous flowers that maintain their colour and shape for lengthy periods and also make wonderful material to make decorations from. Flowers can be added to wreaths for colour or be glued onto cardboard to make other decorations.
Using plant material as decorations is fun as it provides a enjoyable activity for the kids at home during the school holidays. These decorations are also biodegradable and create an earthy, natural charm to the home.
Please note that no plant material should ever be collected from the wild without permission from the local authorities. Always opt to grow your own indigenous plants so that you have your own supply of material.
These great ideas are brought to you with festive wishes from the Botanical Society of South Africa. A Botanical Society membership for your loved ones is a great Christmas gift that they can enjoy all year through, knowing that their membership is supporting conservation and environmental education. The Botanical Society of South Africa membership has great benefits – you can read about them here.