How Do I Keep My Evergreen Wreaths and Garlands from Drying Out?

“Every year at the holidays, I hang a live wreath and real pine garland on a fence outside near my patio. I’m wondering if you know of a way to preserve both the wreath and garland so that they last beyond the holiday season without getting brown?  Thank you!” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio

Answer: You have a couple of options, use either evergreen preservatives or foliage sealers. For preservatives, you can purchase one or make your own. Then there’s a matter of getting it into the wreath and/or garland branches. Liquid preservatives are easy to get into wreaths but next to impossible to get into long garlands unless the greens were preserved beforehand. For garlands, foliage sealer sprays are the better option, though they are a bit more expensive, especially if your garlands are long. Either way, here is an overview of different preservative products, application options, and suggestions for use.

Commercial and DIY Evergreen Preservatives

Chemical Tree Preservatives

There are many bottled commercial evergreen preservatives available. Look for them wherever cut trees are sold. There are also DIY recipes for evergreen preservatives that are said to be quite effective, though I have never tried one myself. Here is a DIY evergreen preservative recipe that I obtained from Live Science (click here). It provides clear step-by-step details. Keep in mind that all chemical options are toxic, so when using them, make sure pets or children cannot access the water. (Click here for additional safety instructions for evergreen preservatives.)

Wreath preservation: Shortly after purchasing your wreath, fill a broad utilitarian pan large enough to accommodate your wreath with the recommended preservative-to-water ratio. The pan should be filled with at least 2 inches of the mix–enough to cover the branch bases. Next, cut the branch bases with sharp pruners; this will allow the preservative to be taken up. Next, submerge the back of the wreath in the preservative mixture. Set the preserving wreath in a cool, dark place for at least a few days. Allow it to dry before hanging. This should help your wreath last longer outdoors. As a double precaution, you may also spray it with sealer.


It takes time to successfully treat evergreens with glycerine–two to three weeks–but if you have time, give it a try. Glycerine is non-toxic and available at craft centers. To make the mix, pour one part glycerin and two parts water into a pot. (The final quantity should be enough to submerge the back of your wreath in a pan.) Next, heat the mixture until it just reaches a boil, and then remove it from the heat. Let it cool, and store it in a cool, dark place until use.

Wreath preservation: Follow the same steps for chemical preservation using your glycerin mix, but keep your wreath in it for at least two weeks. After this time, the needles should be somewhat pliable. You’ll need more time for this method, so be sure to purchase wreaths in advance of the holidays. You can also cut evergreen stems, treat them with glycerine, and then make your own wreath. (Click here to see a great DIY wreath-making slide show by Martha Stewart.)

Spray Sealers

Clear foliage sealers are purchased as sprays and are perfect for helping preserve garlands. They keep needles from desiccating and add a glossy finish. There are also glittery ones if you like that sparkly look. Read the product instructions for the application.

Hopefully, one of these methods will work for you. As a final tip, for Christmas tree care I add sugared lemon-lime soda to the water. Adding a can to around a gallon of water will feed the tree and help keep the vascular tissue open for water uptake.

Happy holidays!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Leave a Reply

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.