Style at Home: Add a touch of fall to your home with bittersweet

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

Bittersweet reminds me of my childhood. In the fall, my friends’ families harvested strands of the woody vine, which grew naturally in the woods around our hometown. Their moms snipped bits from the vines, which were covered in dazzling orange berries, and used them to create beautiful fall displays throughout their homes.

Bittersweet is an important actor in Mary Carol Garrity's homage to fall. (Mary Carol Garrity)

Now, I’m doing the same thing in my home. Nope, I’m not clambering through the woods, hunting for the elusive vines, risking a serious case of poison ivy. Instead, I just open a package of fabulous fakes. I found some amazing faux bittersweet at market this year — the best I’ve ever seen — and we have been going to town with it, using it as the base or accent in most of our fall creations.

You can use bittersweet vines create beautiful fall displays throughout your home.


I’ve approached fall decorating lots of different ways in my home, from creating grand, jaw-dropping displays all over my house, to adding just a tiny touch or two in key spots. This year, my homage to fall at my little lake cottage is more minimalist. Bittersweet is an important actor in the story, with little sprigs worked into my year-round displays, giving them a hint of fall. I love how wispy and airy it is, and how you can make strands of the vine peak out ahead of everything else.

In nature, bittersweet grows vertically, up trees or telephone posts, or it sprawls out horizontally, covering bushes or fences. One of the things I like best about the faux bittersweet is it’s very easy to twist and turn into a natural-looking position, so you will swear it’s real. But, in two to three years, it will still look amazing, not dry and brittle, like natural bittersweet will do over time.

Mary Carol Garrity found faux bittersweet at market this year.

You can cut small sections to put in arrangements. You can place small bittersweet wreaths under your place settings to give your fall table a spark. Or, use a large bittersweet wreath on your door to welcome guests, or insert sprays of bittersweet into floral arrangements.


This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at