The practice of decorating a home during the holidays using fresh greenery dates back to ancient Druid and Roman times. The tradition may be long, but the actual life span of fresh Christmas wreaths for sale and swags is, unfortunately, limited. If you choose to deck your halls with various evergreens, take a look at how to keep them "evergreen" as long as possible.
Indoors vs Outdoors
If you want to place Christmas greens on the exterior of your home, you're in luck if you live in a cold climate. The chill air helps extend the life of wreaths and garlands, allowing you to enjoy their scent and appearance longer before they begin to dry out. If you live in a warm climate, hemlock and spruce trimmings withstand the outdoors better, as well as most broadleaf evergreens like holly, ivy, laurel and boxwood.
For indoor use, greens that dry out very slowly and hold needles longer at warm temperatures make the best fresh decorations. This way, you won't have annoying needles falling to the floor and a fire risk due to overly-dry wreaths. Cedar, fir and pine are your best bet for long-lasting freshness, but don't limit yourself to just these. With a little knowledge, you can still have longer lasting greens no matter what type you choose.
Heat and Light: the Enemy
Logically, heat and light will dry out evergreens over time. Because of that, place your greens with care and keep them away from candles, fireplaces, sunny windows, space heaters and heat vents. Before you decide where to put them, first soak the greenery in water overnight to boost their hydration levels. If you want, spray them with an anti-transpirant to help seal in moisture and make them more fire resistant. However, these sprays can discolor cedar, blue spruce, and juniper berries as it damages their waxy coating, so spray with care.
Sight and Touch
You can check your greens for freshness simply by touching and feeling them every couple of days. Any needles should feel flexible and springy when you bend them. The entire needle, including the tip, is green. If needles break or develop brown tips, it is time to replace them. Simply snip off the dry portion and replace it with a fresh piece. Don't wait until needles are falling off—this means they are too dry and must be discarded completely to avoid risk of fire.