Pine Cone (Pinus elliottii) Wreath for the Farmer Florist
Pine cones are abundant in Mississippi and, for this reason, may be overlooked as floral design material. However, the cones produced by adult slash pine (Pinus elliottii) trees have unique patterns and texture and are great to use in fall and holiday decorations. Many south Mississippi farms have some slash pine trees, and flower farmers should consider value-added products using their cones.
Slash pines have a broad range but are best grown in sandy, subtropical forests. They grow best in warm, moist areas. They do not tolerate extreme cold and are especially sensitive to ice damage. Slash pines can grow across a large range of soil types but prefer sites with high soil moisture, typically near bodies of water. They are great for coastal communities because of their tolerance to saltwater intrusion.
Slash pines grow at a relatively fast rate, attaining about 14 to 24 inches of growth per year. They reach heights of 75 to 100 feet at biological maturity.
In the landscape, slash pine trees are generally planted in spring, when seedlings are easily found at greenhouses and nurseries. Reforestation occurs in the winter with bare-root or containerized seedlings. Growing slash pine trees isn’t difficult, as this is a hardy species. Avoid high pH levels and make sure they get plenty of sun (about 4 hours per day) to ensure success.
Fertilize newly planted trees using a slow-release, general-purpose fertilizer that won’t burn the sensitive roots. A regular, balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 is fine once the trees are a couple of years old. Slash pine trees also benefit from a layer of mulch around the base, which keeps weeds in check and helps keep the soil evenly moist. Replace mulch as it deteriorates or blows away.
Slash pine needles may be 5 to 11 inches long. Cones measure 3 to 6 inches long and are a glossy, reddish-brown color. The cone scales are thin and have a glossy brown coloring unlike the other most common softwood pines in the Southeast. Be warned: slash pine is the most susceptible pine tree to fusiform rust, a fungus that can prove fatal to the tree.
Harvest and Handling
Collect pine cones as they fall from trees throughout the year. Select cones that are a rich brown color with open scales. Shake or tap the cones on a hard surface to release loose seeds. Avoid slash cones that have turned gray and brittle as well as those chopped by mowers. Store cones in boxes or baskets where they can remain dry. There is no need to use pesticides on cones that have been stored dry because any moisture source needed by insects is eliminated.
Pine Cone Wreath
The wreath shown in this publication was made with 92 slash pine cones individually wired to an 18-inch wire wreath frame. We used paper-covered wire cut into 20-inch lengths, but 22- to 26-gauge florist wire will also work. Bind the cone with wire at its halfway point, leaving two equal-length arms of wire remaining. Then, bring these arms around the wreath framework and tightly bind them together so that each cone is firmly attached.
It is best to assemble this wreath in stages: wire all of the pine cones first, and then bind them to the wreath frame. This wreath has an outside diameter of 22 inches and weighs between 4½ and 5 pounds.
Our survey found that consumers like this design, rating it 5.5 out of 7 points, and are willing to pay about $30 for it.
If pine cones are plentiful, the cost of this wreath is negligible. It does take over an hour to create it, with most time spent wiring individual cones.
This a viable product for Christmas tree farms. Because pine cones are so durable, you can make wreaths during slow times of the season to sell during the holiday season. It is best to make wreaths before Thanksgiving because you may have little time to devote to wreathmaking once the busy season begins.
Display a sample wreath and remember to add a price tag to the design. Charge a profitable retail price because many customers are willing to pay for this design. Check online retailers to learn how much other designers and producers charge for this and similar products.
Wire wreath forms are available at floral wholesale supply companies and craft stores.
Wire each cone individually, then attach them to the wreath form.
Display a sample wreath and add a price tag to it. Customers are willing to pay about $30 for this design.
The Southern Christmas Tree Association (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi) assists growers in the production and marketing of high quality, real Christmas trees for consumers. For more information, visit http://www.southernchristmastrees.org/.
Posadas, B. C., and J. Del Prince. 2019. Consumer Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Wreath Designs. Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Bulletin 1227, Mississippi State, Mississippi.
Publication 3549 (POD-11-20)
By James DelPrince, PhD, Assistant Extension Professor; Ben Posadas, PhD, Associate Extension/Research Professor; Christine Coker, PhD, Associate Extension/Research Professor; and Shaun Tanger, PhD, Assistant Professor, Coastal Research and Extension Center.
Copyright 2020 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Produced by Agricultural Communications.
Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P.O. 6044, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (662) 325-5839.
Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is working to ensure all web content is accessible to all users. If you need assistance accessing any of our content, please email the webteam or call 662-325-2262.