How to Keep Evergreens Fresh

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You can keep your evergreen fresh, throughout the holiday season.
Image Credit: Annie Otzen/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Fresh evergreens have figured prominently in holiday decorating for centuries. Pines, firs and cedars make stunning arrangements and favor us with longevity, remaining attractive for weeks. These plant materials will hold their moisture well, even in warm, dry indoor conditions, if you care for them properly. Many families collect fresh evergreen boughs from the great outdoors themselves. Folks without access to, or a desire for, harvesting their own will find them readily available just about anywhere throughout holiday seasons.


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Things You'll Need

  • Repurposed spray bottle

  • 5-Gallon bucket

  • Clear nail polish

  • Anti-Transpirant aerosol spray, such as Wilt-Pruf

  • Clean, sharp shears

  • Hammer

Step 1: Cut Fresh Evergreen Boughs

Cut unblemished fresh evergreen branches, stems and twigs from healthy living evergreen plants with clean, sharp shears. The plant will consider this action to be pruning, so clip only small amounts of material from different sections.

Step 2: Buy Fresh Evergreens

Purchase evergreens that look fresh. The needles should be an attractive dark green and should not feel dried out or brittle. Stems should be sturdy, but flexible, and they shouldn't crack when you bend them gently. Don't buy evergreens that are shedding their needles, or those that look faded or yellow,


Step 3: Crush the Cut Ends

Crush the cut ends with a light blow of a hammer. This will allow the evergreen stems to absorb the maximum amount of water. Put the ends into water immediately.

Step 4: Cover With Cool Water

Place the fresh evergreens into a 5-gallon bucket and cover them with cool water as soon as you can. Set the bucket out of direct light and leave it overnight. This will provide your plant material with the maximum amount of moisture before you create your arrangements.


Step 5: Air Dry and Treat

Shake the excess water from your evergreens and allow them to air dry completely. Treat them with an anti-transpirant aerosol spray, such as Wilt-pruf. Follow the packaging instructions carefully. Paint the cut ends of the woody stems with clear nail polish to seal them and minimize moisture loss. Store your completed evergreen decoration in a cool spot until you're ready to use it.


Step 6: Show Them Off

Display your fresh evergreen decorations out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Try to locate a shady spot for hanging outdoor items.

Step 7: Mist the Evergreens

Fill a repurposed plastic spray bottle with water, then mist your fresh evergreens daily.


Step 8: Disassemble and Dispose

Disassemble your fresh evergreen branch decoration when it becomes unattractive. Dispose of the plant material on your compost heap, or chop it up to use as mulch.


Don’t treat your blue spruce, cedar or juniper berries with anti-transpirants, which will ruin their natural wax coverings and destroy the colors.


Place evergreen materials out of the reach of children and pets. Many of these plants have poisonous parts.

Long-held tradition calls for placing an evergreen wreath on the front door, but it’s not the best choice as far as the plant material is concerned. The evergreens dry out quickly and respond unhappily to sunlight, dropping copious amounts of needles to be tracked indoors.