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How to Preserve Evergreens

How to Preserve Evergreens

Auburn, Ala. – With the holiday season, evergreen clippings and wreaths add festivity to any space. It is necessary to take the proper steps to preserve them!

Here is what you need to know how to keep your holiday evergreens fresh.

When to Purchase:

Greenery clippings will be the freshest for approximately two weeks after cutting. After two weeks, they will start to dry out and drop needles. So plan accordingly. “Make sure the plants you are harvesting from are not drought stress.  That may require you to irrigate prior to harvesting. Do not harvest the branched until you are ready to use them,” said James Miles, an Alabama Extension regional agent in commercial horticulture.


Make sure to test the evergreen clippings before you purchase. If you notice needles are already falling off or there are brown spots on the evergreen, do not select those.” If harvest to use interval is overnight or longer, recut the end and soak in bucket of water,” said Miles.


Because these clippings will be used as decoration, it is important to lock in the moisture before they are put up. During the winter months, the clippings will not have as much moisture from humidity due to the cold climate. You can purchase anti-desiccant spray from local nurseries to treat the clippings and help lock in the moisture.


When you bring home your evergreen clippings, start by making small cuts along the stems. Then place the clippings in buckets of room temperature water for 2 to 3 hours before decorating with them. These cuts will allow them to absorb more water. “Hydrate the branches by soaking prior to incorporating in your arrangement.  If you are using oasis foam, make sure it is saturated prior to adding the cuttings,” said Miles.

Cool, Cool, Cool

To keep fresh, evergreens like to be in the cold. Heat and humidity will make them turn brown.

Clippings placed indoors will dry out quicker than outdoor decorations because of the the heating systems. For clippings placed inside, try to avoid places that receive direct sunlight or placement close to a vent. If possible, try to turn the heat down when you leave your house.

Best Types of Evergreen for Alabama

The following is the list the Mobile Country Master Gardeners use for their greenery sale.


Cryptomeria Cypresses

Junipers Pines Fir

Arborvitae cedar

Rosemary Native Palms: needle palm, saw palmetto, sago


Podocarpus (yew) Magnolia

Citrus leaf branches (satsuma,  lemon, kumquat)

camellia branches bay leaf branches agarista populifola (native)

Cleyera but not with new growth tips

green & variegated aspidistra (cast iron plant leaves)

Small loquat leaf branches



native holly


wax myrtle


Dried blooms from hydrangea (indoor table arrangements only)


Seed pods to embellish

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