Using Winter Foliage for Holiday Decor

Designing a beautiful, unique arrangement is as close as your back door when you use native plants! Traditionally, decorating with winter foliage using fresh greenery and seasonal fruits, berries and nuts has signified everlasting life and the hope that the return of spring brings. In the US, greenery used as a part of decorations is a tradition dating back to colonial times. The best place to find fresh greenery, is your own back yard! A few things to remember:

  1. Not all holiday ‘greenery’ is green. Some deciduous firs for example, have a grey or blue tint.
  2. Remember that you are pruning these plants when you take leaves or stems and consider carefully what you cut and what you leave.
  3. Make note of species you like growing in other gardens or on public land, but don’t harvest them- just plant them in your own garden for next year!

Types of Greenery to use- Pines, Firs, Cedars and their Cones

  • Boxwood- use for fine wreaths and garland. Make sure you like the smell before you bring it indoors- it’s pungent.
  • Eastern Red Cedar- A grey or blue cast juniper with a powerful cedar scent and light blue berries
  • Firs- nice scent and good tolerance of indoor conditions
  • Florida Anise- tons of aromatic foliage, but requires a little extra care
  • Holly- traditional plant with bright red berries
  • Ivy- keep the ends in water or the leaves will wilt
  • Juniper- sticky, fragrant, and with small blue berries
  • Mountain Laurel- a traditional favorite for wreaths and garlands- best used outdoors
  • White Pine- pine cones from this tree add an interesting element to your decor
  • Southern Magnolia- make stunning wreaths with large, glossy dark green leaves
  • Spruce- usually used for wreaths, stiff branches with short, sharp needles
  • True Cedars- use the small male pine cones but spray them with lacquer or acrylic so they don’t release their pollen at room temperature
  • Virginia pine- short, coarse needles with long lasting needle retention.

In addition, consider the following: Acorns, Holly Berries, Mistletoe, Nandina Berries, Pine Cones and more! MAKE SURE THAT IF YOU USE BERRY PRODUCING PLANTS THAT SOME OF THEM CAN PRESENT POISONING HAZARDS FOR CHILDREN AND PETS- ESPECIALLY MISTELTOE BERRIES. Also, be sure to take care with decorating specimens- you could end up with unwanted plants if you aren’t careful with seed drops. Make sure to clean and sharpen your cutter blades before starting, and fill a bucket with water to store fresh cut ends in. Soak the greenery overnight, allow it dry, and then spray it with an anti-transpirant to prevent drying. Try not to place fresh greenery and fruits near doors or windows that get direct sunlight. And of course, the best time to plan for Winter decorations is when you plant in Spring! Check out all of our native plants, including red twig osier, which makes a beautiful, unusual addition to your holiday tableaux.

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