Nothing expresses winter holidays like boughs of fresh greenery draped on mantels or garlands around doors. But beware: Fresh greens require care to stay, well… green!
Heat, lack of humidity, and direct sunlight are the enemies of fresh holiday greens. That means if you start decorating for the Christmas season as soon as the turkey leftovers are put away on Thanksgiving Day and don’t take your decorations down until just after New Year’s, you will need to take steps to preserve your fir and cedar.
1. Chill out
This is easier said than done with December temperatures flirting with 80 degrees every day, as they have this year. Heat causes the moisture in fresh greens to evaporate, leaving them brown and wilted. Indoors, however, you can control the temperature to about 68 degrees — or cooler — to keep greens looking vibrant longer. Just be sure you don’t place them near a heat source such as a heater vent. They won’t like the warm air blowing on them.
2. Spritz away
The best way to keep greens looking good is to mist or spritz them, even indoors. That’s because central heating systems take the moisture out of the air, causing greens to dehydrate. Inside, a mister is desirable, because you can control the spray and avoid getting water spots on fine furniture. Outside, where weatherboards and millwork are used to getting wet, a spray bottle is an easy find and will provide the moisture your greens need to keep their color. Don’t wait until they begin to fade. Instead, plan a daily spray regimen as long as weather is dry. It only takes a minute or two and it’s worth it to preserve your investment.
3. Go dark.
Direct sunlight is the worst enemy of all. Not only does it heat the foliage and cause moisture to evaporate, but the sun’s rays cause damage similar to what unprotected skin experiences. If you have a front porch and want to hang fresh greens to frame your front door, the odds are good that they can survive in protected shade. But wrapping them around porch railings may not be as successful. Why not use faux greens outside and reserve the fresh greens for inside, where you and your guests will be able to enjoy them up close?
If you’re thinking that the expense of fresh greens and the work to keep them looking good outweigh their beauty, a slight attitude adjustment — and a look around your yard — can make a world of difference.
Who needs cedar and fir if you have access to magnolia leaves, fresh rosemary, palm fronds and locally grown citrus?
Besides expressing our home-grown culture, these have the distinct advantage of being easily replenished. When one component begins to fade, just step outside with clippers in hand.