Gina Anderson (copy)

Gina Anderson, Purdue Extension Educator, Floyd County

Have you ever wanted to use evergreens to decorate either the inside or outside of your house for the holiday season, but you didn’t know where to start?

The most important thing to start with is fresh greenery. What is fresh greenery you ask? Fresh greenery is branches cut directly off of evergreen plants. These branches should be checked for insects and other live animals before being taken inside.

Because you are cutting branches directly off a plant, they have a high-water content. Having a high water content is important because it makes the branches more flexible and easier to shape, and they are slightly less flammable. Flammability is important to consider because if you place your cut greens near a light or have candles in the middle of your evergreen centerpiece, it is possible for the cut greens to catch on fire.

The fresher your greens are, the more water they hold, which makes them a little less flammable. Now that fresh greenery has been defined, the next best question is what types of evergreens can be used. Types of Evergreens that can be used include branches of White Pine, Junipers, Cedars, Firs, Spruces, Holly, and Magnolia. Using branches of any of these plants will create a great base to either an outdoor arrangement in a flower pot, or a nice centerpiece on your dining table.

The plants mentioned above are great to mix together because they all have different leaf textures, sizes, shapes, and colors. Most people don’t want a big mass of green on their dining room table, but a nice layer of green with a pop of color and texture.

Items such as acorns, Holly berries, Pine cones, and Sweet gum balls can be added to the arrangement to add the pop that most people look for. These items can be added by using floral wire and wiring the items to the plant stems.

Depending on where the evergreen arrangement is going to be placed, bows and candles can also be added. If candles are being added, make sure that no plant material is actually touching the candle, and periodically check the freshness of the arrangement by bending the leaves of the arrangement. If the leaves bend easily and don’t break, then the plant material is still holding on to water. If the leaves break easily or are a little crispy or crunchy around the edges, the plants are no longer holding water and are becoming more flammable.

There is no right or wrong way to make a cut evergreen arrangement. It can be as simple as cutting a few small branches off of your pine tree and laying them across a side table to accent it or as elaborate as a two-foot-wide table centerpiece that is arranged in floral foam. These arrangements are designs that you create.

The most important things to remember are to make sure the greenery stays fresh, keep evergreen arrangements away from burning candles and other sources of heat, and make sure that they are out of reach of children and pets because some of the materials mentioned above are toxic.

For more information, contact Gina Anderson ANR/CD Extension Educator at the Purdue Extension Floyd County Office, 812-948-5470, or email Gina at gmanders@purdue.edu

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