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Keep It Moist
Whether greenery is hung in the heat of your house or the cold air outside, these winter environments are intensely dry, and the plant has no source of moisture. Once you've conditioned the cuttings, treat them with an anti-desiccant spray (sold at nurseries). This seals the pores on the leaves and bark and helps the foliage retain moisture.
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Caring for Loose Greenery
Fresh greenery will last indoors for about two weeks; it will last longer outdoors in cold climates. Display greenery out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources; mist with water daily to help the cuttings last.
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Maximize Water Absorption
To process greenery you plan to put in water, first recut the stems at a 45-degree angle with a sharp knife or pruners so more water can be absorbed.
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"Sitting at the market all day, these plants go without water," says Hannah Milman, Martha Stewart Living's executive editorial director of crafts. "Conditioning rehydrates the branches, and this helps greenery last longer." Before making wreaths or garlands, fill buckets with room-temperature water. Using a hand pruner, make diagonal cuts through stems, then gently crush the exposed end with a small hammer. Set in the water for a few hours before working with the plants.
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Use combinations of aromatic evergreens -- pine, cedar, eucalyptus, balsam, juniper -- and mix them as you would flowers. The scent is pure winter, and you'll crave it every year. A daily misting of water will help keep evergreens smelling fresh.
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Greens We Love
From the traditional favorites to lesser-known beauties, here are 19 varieties with information on where they grow and how to use them.
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1. Eastern Juniper
Especially good for use in outdoor garlands, it won't survive long indoors -- heat makes its needles turn brittle. Commonly found in the eastern United States and the Rockies.
2. White Pine
Used for outdoor swags, garlands, and arrangements, its soft branches can't support heavy ornaments. Available nationwide.
Dries quickly; makes attractive, scented cut arrangements and outdoor garlands. Found in Western coastal areas.
5. Blue Spruce
Good for outdoor garlands and wreaths, and as cut trees. Take care when hanging ornaments, as needles are sharp. Common in the Midwest and the Northeast.
6. Burford Holly
Less prickly than English holly, this type is also nice in cut arrangements, as well as garlands and wreaths. Lasts up to a week indoors. Available throughout the South.
Dries out quickly, but is favored for cut arrangements and outdoor displays. Found in the West.
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3. English Holly
This prickly holiday standard is ideal in garlands and wreaths. Lasts up to one week indoors, longer in cut arrangements. Nonvariegated; available nationwide.
8. Black Pine
These graceful, long- needled branches are dramatic in outdoor garlands and cut arrangements. Limited to parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
13. Fraser Fir
A favorite cut tree; also a popular choice for garlands. Common east of the Mississippi River.
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9. Western Juniper
A hardy, fragrant, longer-lasting evergreen; good for decorations indoors and out and cut arrangements. Found west of the Rockies.
10. Princess Pine
Versatile; great in garlands, wreaths, and cut arrangements. Available nationwide.
A pleasantly fragrant choice; use for indoor or outdoor displays. Available nationwide.
15. Incense Cedar
Somewhat fragrant; often used in swags and garlands, indoors and out. Found from the Pacific Northwest to Northern California.
16. Port Orford Cedar
This delicate- looking evergreen is versatile and hardy; drape in garlands and arrangements. Found in the Pacific Northwest.
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11. English Holly
Popular in cut arrangements, garlands, and wreaths. Lasts up to one week indoors. Variegated; available nationwide.
A lush addition to cut arrangements; ideal for decorating indoors and out. Available nationwide.
17. Noble Fir
This long-lived favorite cut tree has bluish-green needles and sturdy branches. Found in the West.
18. White Cedar
Best in garlands, swags, and wreaths hung outdoors. Limited to northern New England.
Use in arrangements, as well as in garlands and wreaths, indoors and out; can be gilded. Found in the South and parts of the Northeast.
Popular in Christmas Trees, Wreaths, and Garlands