A ubiquitous feature of the autumn season, the humble pine cone is often found scattered beneath the branches of the conifer tree.
The well-known woody cone (called a “strobilus” in botanical parlance) with overlapping scales that spiral in Fibonacci sequence, is actually the female.
Underneath these scales are seeds that are wind pollinated by the smaller, herbaceous male cones. While still attached to tree or lying on the forest floor, pine cones open their scales during dry periods to disperse their seeds and close them up again when wet, year after year.
It’s an amazing reproductive cycle that has ensured the pine tree – as well as other evergreens – thrive all over the world.
When it comes to decorating the home – for the season or just because you love the bucolic look – the nice thing about pine cones is they’re free! And they are especially easy to source this time of year – you can collect them by the bushel when taking a stroll through a forest.
Once you’ve amassed a trove of pine cones (be sure to collect them in all sizes), you’ll want to clean and sanitize them first.
Then you’re ready to get crafting! If finding pine cones in your local area isn’t possible, then you can purchase a variety of shapes and sizes from this page on Amazon.
Here are some fabulous ways to turn pine cones into beautiful works of art:
Because pine cones have alternating scales that resemble petals, they make for a lovely array of faux flowers that can be enjoyed year-round. Simply scavenge pine cones large and small, as well as a few twigs that serve as their thorny stems, and anoint them in your favorite colors.
There are perhaps thousands of ways to create a wreath of pine cones, but we especially like this number for its cheery display of autumn hues.
Another project that takes advantage of the pine cone’s resemblance to little rosettes, pine cone tops are glued to a styrofoam ball, lightly spray painted in white, and placed upon an elegant planter.
An easy craft for last-minute decorators, this adorable spider is made using a pine cone as its body with googly eyes and several pipe cleaners for its eight fuzzy legs.
Turn a simple set of flower string lights into an eye-catching display! By snipping off the scales of large pine cones and hot gluing them onto the floral bulbs, you can create the illusion of pine cones that glow. Bundle them into an opaque bowl to add an ambient touch to any room.
Pine cones are dipped and dyed in soy wax and scented with fragrance oils to make cute (and eminently useful) fire starters. Place a colorful array in a bowl near the fireplace or give as gifts during the chilly season.
Painting the tips of pine cone scales with gradual color changes elevates a hum-drum woody seed into a vibrant decorative piece. Display them in a clear vase or place anywhere in the home that desperately needs a splash of color.
The classic kid-friendly craft, all you need is a large pine cone, peanut butter, and birdseed. Make it pretty by adding nuts and dried fruit to the feed, and tie it to the tree with a red ribbon.
Inspired by the zinnia flower, this ingenious craft takes advantage of the tightly clustered scales found on the bottom of the pine cone as the structure of the flower. Slap a couple coats of paint on there and you’ve got a permanent bouquet of zinnias.
Perfect for patient crafters, these handsome Christmas trees of varying size are made with extra large pine cones – each one is deconstructed by removing the scales. Glue the woody bracts around and around, bottom to top, on a foam tree and this forms an all-natural (but entirely fake) conifer tree.
Using a large pine cone as a hanging planter of sorts, glue some sphagnum moss around the crown and gently tuck the stems of your succulents within. Mix and match textures and colors to your heart’s content and when finished, hang with fishing line in a warm and sunny spot.
12. Pine Cone Mulch
If you have a lot of pine cones lying around, here’s a project that marries form and function. Cover up unsightly bare ground around your trees and shrubs by putting down a layer of pine cones. Not only will this prevent critters from digging around in your garden, the pine cones will eventually break down and provide food for your plants. This trick also works as a cat deterrent for indoor plants too!
Show off your love with this wall-hanging picture frame DIY, rimmed with a generous amount of mini pine cone rosettes. Aside from pine cones and glue, you’ll need a heart-shaped box to provide the shape and structure.
14. Fairy House
A gorgeous ornament for the garden or a child’s bedroom, this fairy house is all about attention to the little details. Using a bottle gourd as a base (filled with sand to give it heft), individual pine cone scales become shingles for the roof. Everything else – the door, windows, shutters, flowers, and vines – is sculpted from polymer clay.
A festive display that’s both simple and elegant, you’ll need a wooden planter (with a distressed finish), mason jars, candles, pine cones, and a few twigs with berries to pull it off. Add other flourishes like acorns, pine branches, and evergreen sprigs to make it your own.
Want to make one of these crafts but don’t live near any conifer trees? You can purchase pine cones in a range of shapes and sizes from this page on Amazon.