How to Keep Holiday Evergreens Fresh

Spruce boughs

WHEN buying evergreens to use for decorating, make sure they look bright green and that there's not a lot of needle loss when you pick up the branch. It's best if you can cut the branches yourself, though many garden centers offer fresh greens that will look great for several weeks.

Keep them Cool

Good Evergreens for Cutting

  • Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • White pine (P. strobus)
  • Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
  • Fraser fir (A. fraser)
  • Noble fir (A. procera)
  • White fir (A. concolor)
  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • If you receive a wreath or other evergreens by mail, unpack them immediately.
  • Mist the evergreens with water; repeat every week or so.
  • Evergreens will deteriorate more rapidly in warm temperatures. Try to display them in a cool place. Indoor displays should be away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
  • Holly is more fragile than other evergreens. The leaves will discolor if exposed to very warm or cold temperatures. The ideal temperature range is 32 to 60 degrees F.
  • If you're cutting your own fresh evergreens, be sure to wait until after frost, or at least until cool weather has arrived.
  • Choose evergreens that are known to last a long time. See Good Evergreens for Cutting, at right. Some last longer than others. For instance, white pine is not especially long-lasting, though it can look good for a few weeks. Balsam fir holds up longer. When possible, opt for evergreens that grow in your region. They are likely to last longer.
  • Save cuttings that have a short vase life for arrangements that only need to look good for a few days. For instance, blue spruce (Pinus pungens 'Glauca') is especially beautiful, but it drops needles within a short time.

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