There is no better sight and smell at Christmas than entering a home where fresh Christmas greens are proudly displayed. With proper care and pre-conditioning evergreen boughs can last up to two weeks indoors before touch-ups and even longer when used as outdoor Christmas décor.
If you do not plan to use your boughs right away, keep them outdoors in a cold, shady area. Direct sun will dry out the boughs and cause needle browning. Do try to use them within two or three days of purchase as they should be hydrated or conditioned before use.
Condition cut greens by re-cutting each branch end at a 45 degree angle and immersing the end in room temperature water for a few hours. The needles on the branches can be immersed as well but do dry them before creating your arrangement.
Once you have created the green stage of your arrangement, spray it all over with an anti-dessicant such as Wilt Proof. This seals the needle pores and locks in the moisture. This is especially important for outdoor urns and windowboxes. Let dry and add your decorations.
Touch-ups are often necessary so keep any leftover bough pieces. I keep a large glass vase filled with cut cedar branches on a side table just for that purpose.
To create maximum visual appeal use a mixture of bough varieties and deciduous branch types. Red dogwood is very popular along with curly willow.
When creating your Christmas masterpieces do not be afraid to mix live boughs and artificial decorations.
Outdoor urns benefit from a lower layer of soil for weight and an upper layer of soaked floral foam for additional water uptake before placing outside. Try and keep urns in a sheltered location; preferably by the front door of your home.