Ensure that your outdoor wreaths (and swags, garlands, and other greenery decorations) last throughout the holiday season.
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Few things make a space feel more festive than a gorgeous fresh wreath. Whether you hang one on your front door or use several to dress up your windows, wreaths are a harbinger of the most wonderful time of the year. "Nothing is better during the holidays than a fresh evergreen wreath," says Andy Hunter, owner of Lynch Creek Farm, a company that specializes in live wreaths and centerpieces. "They smell like the forest and can naturally brighten any home."

But, as beautiful as live wreaths are, preventing them from turning brown can prove tricky. "Wreaths are composed of different types of greens, but some of the more commonly used kinds are conifers from the evergreen family," says Matt Roth, owner of The Magnolia Company. "Premature browning is normally the result of premature drying."

Curious if there's anything you can do to keep a live wreath fresh throughout the season? From what to look for when shopping for greenery to watering tips and more, here are the steps Hunter and Roth say you can take to prevent a fresh wreath from drying out too soon.

green wreath with berries and floral accents hanging on red door
Credit: Kevin Alexander George / Getty Images

1. Buy a Fresh Wreath

The first step to ensuring your wreath doesn't turn brown too quickly is to buy one that's as fresh as possible. "If you are looking at a wreath and it feels light and appears dry, chances are it's a few weeks old," Roth explains.

The Shake Test

To determine whether or not a wreath is fresh or not, Roth says to give it a good shake. "If the falling needles remind you of a rainstorm, take a pass because you will probably not be able to bring it back to life," he says.

The Smell Test

Roth also recommends sniffing the wreath to see if it smells fresh. "Think of what a fresh cut Christmas trees smells like," he says. "Wreaths made of firs and cedars should smell similar."

2. Hang Your Wreath Outside

If you plan on hanging a live wreath indoors, Hunter says to reconsider. "We always recommend hanging fresh wreaths, swags, and garland outdoors because they will last much longer outside than in a heated home," he explains.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

When hanging a fresh wreath outside your home, Hunter says to keep them out of direct sunlight, which can cause them to dry and brown faster. "Quality live wreaths can last up to eight weeks outdoors, but will likely only last a couple of weeks in full sun or inside," he says.

3. Apply Water

Spritzing or misting your wreath with water regularly is essential—and will prevent your piece from turning brown.

How to Spritz a Wreath

"Spritzing a wreath will help it last longer and bring out the fragrance," says Hunter. "We recommend spritzing the back of the wreath (where the cut ends of the boughs are) every two to three days."

How to Mist a Wreath

Roth suggests misting your wreath—as opposed to spritzing, which involves gently spraying the wreath with water—up to three times a day to stave off the browning process. "I use a small (16 to 24 ounce) water bottle to generously mist the wreath in the morning, around 1 p.m., and then again at the end of the day," he says.

4. Cover the Wreath at Night

Are you leaving your outdoor wreaths uncovered at night? Roth says to reconsider. "I recommend misting the wreath and then covering its face with a lightweight plastic bag, like a trash bag," he says. "You can just tuck it around the outside of the wreath and keep it hanging."

According to Roth, covering the wreath in plastic will keep the misted water on the surface at night, ensuring it stays fresher for longer. "In the morning, take the bag off and mist it again," he says. "Do this every day and you'll see a huge difference."

5. Try an Anti-Transpirant Plant Spray

If all else fails, you can always try an anti-transpirant plant spray to help lock in moisture and stop your wreath from turning brown. Composed of film-forming polymers that dry to a clear transparent coating, anti-transpirant sprays, such as Wilt-Pruf Anti-Transpirant Plant Protection Spray ($18, amazon.com), are designed to protect foliage from heat, sunlight, wind burn, and other elements that might cause it to dry out too quickly. Though Roth has not had much luck with these formulas, they're worth a try: "I've had other people tell me about their success with them," he says.

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