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Keeping Natural Holiday Decorations Fresh Longer


Keeping Natural Holiday Decorations Fresh Longer

From Christmas trees to wreaths, to pine boughs and baskets of pinecones, few things match the beauty and seasonal spirit that natural elements bring to your holiday décor. How to keep them looking their best through the holidays? Here are some tips:


Choose Your Natural Holiday Décor Wisely

Some conifers simply last longer than others when cut or kept indoors. Short-needled pines, such as spruce and hemlock, are very attractive, but will begin to shed their needles/leaves after just a few days. Norway spruce is a popular choice for Christmas trees but sheds its needles the quickest. Yews not only lose their leaves in just a few days but are quite toxic to humans and pets. Common green varieties of boxwood retain their leaves well but have an unpleasant odor.


When choosing greens, opt for aromatic evergreens such as pine, eucalyptus, juniper, cedar and balsam. Long-needled evergreens like Princess Pine or cedar retain their needles longer than short-needled pines, and varieties of variegated boxwood are more neutrally scented than the common green varieties. In general, pines, firs, and cedars are good choices since they tend to dry out slowly and retain their needles well even in warm interior temperatures.


Handmade Holiday Garland - Farmside Landscape and Design

Image Credit: Farmside Gardens

Home Harvesting Natural Elements for Holiday Décor

A great source for natural décor can include your own backyard. Be mindful when harvesting evergreens to remove the branches from your trees and shrubs as if you were pruning your plants. This approach will help to retain your evergreens’ natural beauty and structure. If you’re gathering branches of perennials that have dried in the garden, you can cut these back completely without concern.


Select your cuttings from well-established shrubs and trees. Avoid branches that have obvious signs of pests or disease, are browning, yellowing or shedding needles. Choose branches that are green with tight needles. They should be firm and cool to the touch.



Preparation Matters

Once you’ve selected your Christmas tree and evergreens, condition them to rehydrate their branches. Fill a bucket with room-temperature water. Make a fresh cut to the base of your Christmas tree and place it in the bucket of water for at least 24 hours. Use a hand pruner to make fresh diagonal cuts through evergreen branch stems that you’ll use for wreaths, mantle and tablescapes. This will allow more water to be absorbed. Gently crush the exposed end with a small hammer and set the branches in water for at least a few hours, or overnight if possible. Treat your Christmas tree and evergreens with an anti-desiccant spray, available at your local garden center or nursery, as well as online. This will help seal the pores on the leaves and bark so foliage can retain moisture for a longer period of time.



Handmade Holiday Wreaths - Farmside Landscape and Design

Image Credit: Farmside Gardens

Caring for Your Natural Holiday Décor

Make sure your Christmas tree has ample fresh water every day. Your tree will absorb a lot of water the first few days after being cut, so you may want to check on the water levels more than once a day during this time period. Keep your tree and greenery away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight. A daily misting with water will help to keep your tree and evergreen branches smelling and looking fresh.


If you’ve gathered pinecones from your yard, clean them by using a coarse brush to scrub the scales to remove dirt, grass and needles and loosen the seeds. If the pinecones are very dirty, you may want to wash them. Place the pinecones n a bucket filled with warm water and a little dish washing soap and gently scrub. Because the pinecones will begin to close up when wet, you may want to clean them in small batches. Pinecones will open back up on their own in 1-2 days when taken out of the water. You can speed up the process by placing them in the oven. Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper and place a single layer of cleaned pinecones on it. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sheet with the pinecones in it for 25-30 minutes. Closely monitor the pinecones since oven temperatures and moisture retention varies.


Once dried, you can use a clear sealer on the pinecones to help preserve them and give them a nice shine. At the end of the season, store your pinecones in a zip lock bag to keep them fresh and dust-free.


Main image photo credit: PixaBay

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