Decorating for the holidays is as easy as stepping outside, although there are also many local places to buy fresh greenery if you must. Whether you want to decorate your mantle, table, door, lamp post, porch or fill your containers, there are many ways to achieve holiday spirit with fresh greenery and natural materials.

Here are just a few plants, stems and natural materials that can be used for your decorating:

Base and Fillers:

• Cedar

• Spruce

• Pine

• Boxwood

• Laurel

• Yew

• Holly

• Inkberry

• Japanese Andromeda

• Sweetbay Magnolia

• Southern Magnolia



• Dried hydrangea blooms

• Redtwig or Yellowtwig dogwood

• Birch logs and branches

• Blueberry twigs

• Contorted Filbert

• Pine or Spruce Cones

• Spray painted, dried Giant allium flower

• Pussy willow branches

• Lavender

• Antlers

• Cabbage



• Winterberry

• Snowberry

• Coralberry

• Cedar berries

• Holly berries

• Mahonia


Live plants:

• Heuchera/Coral Bells (I especially like ‘Green Spice’)

• Hellebore

• Evergreen/hardy sedums

• Any evergreen shrub

• Rosemary topiary


As with any plant pruning, be sure to make appropriate cuts so as not to damage the plant.  Keep all materials outside in the cooler weather until you need them inside, and definitely don’t decorate inside too early with fresh material.

Typically a week or two before Christmas is a good time. Once you’re ready to make your arrangements, cut all stems at a 45 degree angle. To keep your greenery fresh, you can pound the end with a hammer and soak it for 24 hours. Let it dry completely and then spray with an anti-desiccant spray such as Wilt-Pruf. This adds a protective coating to the needles and leaves, which slows water loss (except don’t use on juniper berries, blue spruce or cedar because it can damage their wax coating). 

Mist the greenery every few days for best results. For arrangements in water, you can add 1 part glycerin to 1 part water. Avoid placing interior arrangements and greenery near heat, sunlight and candles.

Happy decorating and happy holidays!