How to Keep Holiday Evergreens Fresh
Evergreens make gorgeous (and compostable!) holiday decor. Wreaths, swags, table runners, or even just a simple vase of fresh pine boughs can be used to brighten your home both inside and out.
Tips for Extending the Life of Evergreens
- 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. The ideal temperature range is 32 to 60 degrees F.
- Holly is more fragile than other evergreens. The leaves will discolor if exposed to very warm or cold temperatures.
- 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.
Cutting Your Own Greens?
- Be sure to get landowner permission first if you plan to harvest greens on someone else's property.
- Be sure to wait until after frost, or at least until cool weather has arrived. This triggers the tree that it is time to go dormant and helps set the needles.
- Cut just above a node (where branches and leaves/needles join together on a bough) to encourage future growth on the tree.
- Make cuts at a 45-degreee angle, then place the cut bough in a container of fresh water. An angled cut ensures the bough will be able to take up water and stay hydrated in your container.
- Choose evergreens that are known to last a long time. See Good Evergreens for Cutting, below. When possible, opt for evergreens that grow in your region. They are likely to last longer.
- Don't be afraid to experiment — gather cones, berries, and red-osier dogwood twigs to use as colorful accents to your greens!
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)
- Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
From L to R: juniper, white pine, and balsam fir all make excellent fresh cut evergreens.
Last updated: 12/19/2022
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