How to Keep Live Garlands From Drying - This is the Key to Fresh Festive Foliage According to Florists

Expert advice on how to keep festive foliage fresh and fragrant

Garden Trading, Hoxton Dome floor lamp
(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Festive foliage garlands look fabulous draped over mirrors, mantels, doorways and even the Christmas table. Yet with the heating on, they can end up looking a bit drab by the big day. If you want to know how to keep live garlands from drying, we've canvassed expert advice from florists.

Whether you go for pine, spruce and fir, eucalyptus, laurel, holly or other beautiful branches for your Christmas decorating, it's possible to extend the life of your festive foliage.

With these simple suggestions from florists your garlands will stay looking good for longer. After all, garlands are one of the ways to decorate with foliage that will make your home smell Christmassy too.

1. Choose longer-lasting foliage

foliage garland with blue decorations and lights

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

The best Christmas garlands will be made from evergreens that last longer indoors than others, so knowing what to choose is a good start. Alternatively, opt for foliage that dries well, such as eucalyptus. 

'If you plan to transform your home into a winter wonderland with fresh evergreen décor pieces for the holidays, I recommend garlands created from pines, spruces or firs,' says Alfred Palomares, resident plant dad at 'These varieties are known for their longevity throughout the season.'

2. Trim the ends and give your garland a drink

foliage garland around fireplace in florist Willow Crossley's house

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Ensuring your foliage garlands are as hydrated as they can be before hanging them, will help them stay fresher for longer.

'Whether you are purchasing your garland or making it yourself, I suggest trimming the ends and soaking it in water overnight to give it a good drink,' says Alfred.  'Trimming the ends will allow the needles or leaves to properly absorb water. It’s also best to begin this process as soon as you receive your greenery.

'Be sure to let the garland dry before placing it on your banister, doorway, or mantel and adding any decorations.'

3. Mist your garland

foliage garland around a chalk board menu

(Image credit: Future / Simon Brown)

Much like you may mist your houseplants, garlands can benefit from a gentle spritz too. Be sure not to spray any water near electric string lights and remove any decorations that may get spoilt.

'No matter where you place your fresh evergreen garland inside your home, it is important to mist it often so that it remains hydrated and healthy throughout the season,' explains Alfred. 'Live garlands should also be kept away from direct sunlight and any heating vents to prevent their needles from drying out.'

'If you do have the space to hang a fresh garland on an outdoor balcony, or frame the front door to welcome holiday guests, I suggest decorating outside as garlands do last longer outside in the cold weather,' Albert adds. 

4. Choose LED lights

Christmas fairy lights in a foliage garland

(Image credit: Getty Images / GMVozd)

Threading lights through a garland looks lovely, but lights can get hot, so be cautious when choosing them. 

The best Christmas lights for a wreath are ones that don't get too hot. 'Adding lights to holiday décor always makes it more festive,' says Alfred. 'If you opt to add a strand of lights to your garland, I recommend ensuring it has LED lightbulbs. LED lightbulbs burn at a low temperature and will help protect your garland from drying out or wilting.'

5. Spruce them up

foliage garland over a fireplace

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

With live garlands or real Christmas trees, it's best to put them up two or three weeks before the big day if you want them to last well, without too much maintenance.

If you have put your garlands up earlier and they're starting to wilt, a little spruce will liven them up.

'Sprucing things up by removing any foliage or flowers that are starting to turn, will make little difference to the overall look if you've started with full foliage,' says floral designer, Karen Barnes for Interflora. 'Just gently tease out any sprigs that are not looking their best.' 

Or, go artificial for peace of mind

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.