Celebrating the Seasons

Gabby Gardeners

Question: What's the best way to treat or handle fresh picked holly for a display centerpiece? Does it have to be in water to stay fresh?

Answer: Here are some tips to keep your holly and other greens fresh through the holidays:

  • Use clean, sharp cutters to cut branches and immediately put cut ends into warm water until ready to use.
  • Before bringing holly or greens indoors, immerse sprigs and cuttings in water overnight to rehydrate. Crush the ends of woody stems to allow the cuttings to take in more water.
  • Hang foliage to dry. Then spray it with an anti-transpirant, such as Wilt-pruf, to help seal in moisture. Note: Do not use anti-transpirants on juniper berries, cedar, or blue spruce. The product can damage the wax coating that gives these plants their distinctive color.
  • Keep wreaths, garlands, and arrangements in a cool location until ready to use.
  • Keep greens away from heat and direct sun.
  • If greens dry out, discard them and replace with fresh cuttings.

Question: How should I care for delicate plants I am storing in the garage for the winter?

Answer: Storing tender plants in an attached garage or shed can be dicey, but here's what has worked for me, and I live in a cold climate. If plants are in pots, set them on top of a couple layers of cardboard. Wrap containers with a layer or two of bubble wrap, but leave the tops open. Place the containers as close to a house wall as possible. Keep an eye on them. If you see any new growth too early, it means the pot is too warm; remove some of the bubble wrap or move to an outside wall or an unheated shed or garage.

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