Plant Preview

Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Make a Boxwood & Holly Evergreen Kissing Ball

December 1st is considered the start of the Holiday decorating season, as well as being the beginning of Hanukka this year. A unique variation on ubiquitous Christmas decorations is an old-timey “Kissing Ball”. Holidays seem more charming when fresh botanicals are used for decorations, and there’s no excuse in our industry not to bring some evergreens indoors! Along with pine and mistletoe, it’s traditional to deck the halls with boughs of holly and boxwood, two evergreens that symbolize ‘constancy’ and ‘foresight’ in the Language of Flowers.

This year create a “Kissing Ball” out of Green Borders Boxwood and Christmas Jewel® Holly.

Easy to make and with staying power that lasts through the holidays and beyond, a shoebox of 4-5 inch clippings will make one kissing ball and will create the start of a beautiful holiday.

Green Borders Boxwood is the top choice for low, informal hedging and when dark green color is needed to provide structure and interest in the landscape all year long. This littleleaf boxwood displays a sturdy growth habit and dense, dark green foliage. Slow growing, Green Borders reaches a mature height of 2 – 3 feet tall and a slightly wider spread of 3 – 4 feet, making it excellent for garden edging and borders. Plants are profusely branched and the glossy, dark green foliage adds a distinctive rich color to the garden in winter. Green Borders Boxwood is also exceptional because it is tolerant of moist soils. Clip a shoebox- or stuff a plastic bag- full of evergreen twigs about 4-5 inches long.

Christmas Jewel® Holly is a beautiful Ilex pernyi hybrid with a dense, naturally pyramidal shape. The dark green, polished foliage of Christmas Jewel® is narrow a blunt spine that doesn’t prick. Plants are loaded with large berries that turn apple red by Christmas and last until early summer. Christmas Jewel® Holly is an adaptable plant; perfect as a specimen plant or grown as a narrow, dense hedge. Clip about a dozen 4-5 inch sprigs heavy with brilliant red berries for accent.

How to Make a Boxwood & Holly Kissing Ball
First, here is a video to show you how Acadia Wreath Company makes their Kissing Balls. It's pretty funny. (If you're not crafty, just buy one of theirs online.)


Half a block of floral foam, well-soaked in water

Tight plastic mesh from bulb, grapefruit or onion bags, dark color preferred

Spool of thin wire approximately 18 to 20 gauge


About a shoebox full of 4-5 inch sprigs of Green Borders Boxwood

About a dozen 4-5 inch clippings of Christmas Jewel® Holly with berries

A few sprigs of mistletoe

Floral pick

Red Ribbon


1. Soak the floral foam (one brand name is Oasis) thoroughly, then pare off the corners to make a rounded or ball shape about 5 inches across.

2. Drain the floral foam and wrap the plastic mesh around it, enclosing the foam securely. Weave or stitch it together in a few places to hold it closed.

3. Cut a 10-12 inch length of wire to make a hanger. Thread it through the center of the foam, creating a bend or U- shape to catch on the bottom side of the foam. Make a loop at the top for hanging.

4. Clip enough 4-5 inch sprigs of Green Borders Boxwood and stick in the floral foam to cover the ball evenly and completely, making a uniform sphere of boxwood about 10 inches in diameter.

5. Add berried stems of Holiday Jewel® Holly as an accent, again spacing evenly around the sphere. Your lush, full Kissing Ball of greenery is now ready for decorating.

6. Wire a bit of mistletoe to a pick and insert at the bottom of the sphere.

7. Add a red bow at the top and a tuft of short streamers to the bottom of the ball.

8. Throughout the Holidays, re-soak the entire Kissing Ball once in awhile to keep the green stems fresh, submerging it in a large basin of warm water, then allowing it to drain well before re-hanging.

Let's hear how you make your Kissing Ball and what greenery and decorations you choose to use! That's what the Comments Box is for, so Post a Comment. Do you use coniferous evergreens like arborvitae or spruce, or do you add pine cones?

Here's wishing you willl meet the one you love beneath the Kissing Ball this Holiday Season.

Photo Credit Kissing Ball, Acadia Wreath Company.


  1. Looks fun, Geri! You might want to check out my young adult novel, FORGET-HER-NOTS (HarperCollins, 2010), in which the language of flowers comes magically to life through a fourteen-year-old girl. In fact, reading your book, Tussie Mussies, sparked my interest in the language many years ago. Hope our paths cross one of these days. Happy Holidays!

    -Amy (Brecount White)

  2. Thanks, Amy, can't wait to see your new book! And thanks for the attribution.