preserved boxwood intervention

by | Jun 17, 2015 | All Things Home, Decorating | 15 comments

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been feeling like my house was “preserved boxwooded-out”, so I started swapping some of them out for live plants.  A few readers here on the blog and on Instagram said they felt the same way and I thought I would write a post about it.

I know, for me, I added preserved boxwood in lieu of fresh flowers and live greenery.  I wanted to add some life to the space, but didn’t want the upkeep that comes with live plants or the cost that comes with buying flowers each week.  I also am really picky about using fake flowers and greens.  Some of them can look nice, but they rarely look really real.  And, when I think of fake flowers, I immediately make the jump to dust-covered arrangements with frayed fabric petals.  I know that’s totally unfair to really nice “fauxliage”, but that’s what comes to mind.

When I tripped across preserved boxwoods, I loved them immediately.  They are real, green and require zero maintenance.  Sounds good to me!  I’ve been adding wreaths and topiaries around the house ever since.




I finally realized a few weeks ago that they are everywhere!  I counted and I had over 20 preserved boxwood pieces in my home and that is just too many.  Also, a few of the really old ones were starting to get fuzzy, just like the silk flowers I mentioned above.  I tried rinsing, vacuuming and shaking them off, but I couldn’t get them looking like new and it was time to let them go.

As I started to look at the boxwoods with fresh eyes, I noticed a few things that weren’t working for me.  First of all, when you use the same thing over and over in a home, unless it’s an intentional collection, it can start to just look repetitive…like you don’t know what other design choice you can make.  You’re stuck in a rut.  “I need something green, so let’s go with yet another preserved boxwood.”    The boxwood pieces, though they were in varying shapes, were all the same color and texture.

I didn’t remove all of the boxwoods from my house.  I still love the wreath hanging on the cow in the kitchen and I have a  little topiary in a bathroom that doesn’t get any natural light, so a preserved plant makes sense.


Otherwise, I’ve been swapping the preserved boxwoods out for real plants…


mms-8406 mms-8414

…and some flowers from my bushes while they are in season.



I pitched the preserved boxwoods that were looking tired, but I am storing the rest in the basement, so I can still rotate them in and out, but never will they be displayed in such large quantities!  Two or three would be fine, though.

If you’re looking for other preserved greenery options, lemon cyprus is a bright green with feathery leaves and comes in wreaths and topiaries.  Basil lepto (shown below) and seeded eucalyptus are also pretty.


Do you need a preserved boxwood intervention?


  1. Jannean

    Like you Marian I am fussy about faux plants and flowers so preserved boxwood always seemed like the perfect, no maintenance solution but I can see how it can easily get out of hand. I only have two in my house, one conical the other round and I would probably have bought more but couldn’t find any that looked as good for the price. As for live plants, the last few I bought have been a disappointment so I’ve given up for the time being. You wrote the other day about keeping your live myrtle plants alive for two months so, congratulations! I have wanted one forever but last time I checked they are very pricey and I would feel badly if they didn’t survive. My solution of late has been switching to faux succulents. I display them in a jar or under a doom and add reindeer moss for realism. As and added bonus because of their wide leaves they are easy to keep clean should they get dusty.

  2. beck campbell

    I just bought my FIRST preserved boxwood wreath yesterday…I had a 20% deal at Target so I picked up a small one to put on a a wall hanging I added in my guest bath…haven’t shared it yet, and I’m not so sure the wreath isn’t too small for the wall decor. But I do like the look. Like you, I am not into “repetitive” decorating, but then again, I am not into knick-knacks just for the sake of filling space. 90% of what I decorate with usually has some meaning…family heirlooms and such. I like the addition of “greenery” but I too have a problem with live plants in the house. I can landscape and maintain a killer yard, but give me a live plant for the house and forget about it! One of the reasons I love knock-out rose bushes…super simple to grow and they put off amazing little flowers all summer that can really brighten a room in a little ironstone pitcher or bud vase!

  3. Irene in Vermont

    Have you every tried using salt to clean your faux flowers? Just put a couple of table spoons into a large resealable plastic bag and then every few months put your flowers in (and seal) and then shake for about 1 min. The salt crystals are gently abrasive and clean the dust and bugs out really well! When the salt starts to get grimy (mine usually lasts about 2 years), throw away. I got this from Martha Stewart Living over a decade ago and have been using it ever since. It works well!

  4. renee

    I do not have any preserved boxwood. I don’t actually dislike it, but to me – it has become a trend, and I stay away from trends. I do like your wreath and would probably use that.

    I have always had a love for plants/flowers, etc. and have always had them inside and out. Fresh flowers really aren’t expensive at many grocery stores, etc. and I do enjoy them. If you want something that blooms and is beautiful – tray an orchid. The blooms will last for weeks and around here I can find them for usually no more than $10. Even if I decide not to keep the plant after the blooms die (it sometimes takes FOREVER for them to re-bloom and they are not very pretty plants without blooms), I don’t fee bad – $10 for fresh blooming flowers for weeks!

    I do not care for fake plants/flowers at all. Many of the flowers that people use (arrangements) are so full of dust. I can almost always spot a fake! LOL

  5. Mari Monroe

    When are you going to post your tutorial on how to preserve boxwoods?! I planted 20 boxwoods anticipating this tutorial 🙂

    • Jane Little

      I have preserved
      boxwood tips with glycerin solution. Is it necessary to condition stems before
      preserving? When is the best time to wash boxwood, before preservation or
      after? Also, I used floral dye but didn’t like the inconsistent color. Have you
      ever tried or heard of first dyeing, then preserving?
      Thanks in advance for your time,

  6. Heather Fowler

    I love all the new real plants that you have added. As someone who has had a lot of plants in my house over the years, I am going to suggest that you find some sort of container to put under each of those plants. Even if they don’t have holes in the bottom I have found that leaving plants that have been watered on wood furniture can leave marks. I don’t want you ruining your beautiful pieces! I like putting them on top of scales, but then I just realized that because I had one next to the kitchen sink and it gets wet on the counter there, that there are now a few places of rust on the granite (from the rusty scale).

  7. Diane

    I have absolutely no idea what preserved boxwood is? I mean I can see from the photographs what it is but I have never come across it. I am totally useless with real life plants because of course they need water and I am dreadful at remembering to water them which is why I can grow really good orchids.

    I have been growing orchids for about 12 years and before we left the UK to move down to Portugal I had a 10 year old orchid it wasnt huge but it flowered 2 or 3 times a year! Recently we have a lady that comes in and does the ironing for me and generally helps around the house (she cleans the windows we have 54 in our house) and she started watering my orchids without me knowing it and they all started to die off. I couldn’t understand it because I only water them a couple of drops and never leave them sitting in water because they don’t like it.

    So anyway today i caught her watering the plants and then showering them with water…she doesnt speak English and my Portuguese is pequeno (thats small to you and I) but I told her to stop because she is killing my orchids! So anyway my point is orchids are great plants they come in a variety of colours and shapes plus they don’t take a lot of looking after!

  8. Carla

    Hi Marion,

    As you get more into gardening you may want a cutting garden so you can cut fresh flowers for your home during the season they bloom.


  9. Naomi S.

    I don’t have any preserved boxwood, but I think it looks attractive in small amounts and with the right accessories. I, also, do not like most artificial flowers. I guess because I love real plants and flowers so much and fake ones just don’t begin to compare to me.

    I have lots of plants in my house and one that is really easy to care for is my jade plant. It does need to be watered, but not very frequently because it is a succulent. I love the fat little leaves on it and the way it grows into a tree-like plant. Anyway, that is one you might like to try. But start with a little one as they can get quite large. Or, you could get one from a friend by taking two or three little leaves and sticking them in a little pot of soil and they will root and begin to grow a plant! You do have to keep the cuttings moist, but they, too, are very forgiving if you forget. I have lots of other suggestions, but for another time, perhaps. Just keep enjoying getting to know about plants! The variety is endless!

  10. Tanya

    I think it’s funny how our eyes miss things like that sometimes, and then something triggers our attention and suddenly we see the thing we were missing around every single corner. Over 20! Oh My! 🙂

  11. Shirley@Housepitality Designsi

    Hello Marian…I love preserved boxwood…however, I just have one wreath like yours from Decor Steals…and a few topiaries…I love to use live plants…they are everywhere..I love using both faux and real for a great balance…however, I think I need a real plant intervention!!!

  12. Barbara

    Everything in moderation. I’ve had two large preserved boxwood balls in the shop since I opened, sitting on top of large urns. They have with stood almost three years. Added more recently, but like decorating, it’s all about the mix!

  13. Maybee's Mom

    I have a mix of real and fake flowers in my huge window boxes. I hate the muddy mess dripping down the side of my home when it rains and I water. I stick with yellow and shades of purple, people do not even realize some are silks. Another thought…I have several (9) hydrangeas bushes. I cut and dry them, they look beautiful in a white pitcher, and stay for a very long time. I tuck dried pieces into my Xmas tree at Christmas. One year I spray painted them silver…I have several different kinds so they all are different colors, shades of pink, purple and white. Enjoy your summer.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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