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Hort in the Home Landscape

Decorating with Evergreens for the Holidays

In my opinion, nothing screams the holidays more than the fragrance of fresh cut evergreen and for many of us, we're lucky enough to have evergreens in our own yards to harvest from. Check out a few tips below for success when harvesting your evergreens:


Which type of evergreen should I harvest?

Of the many great evergreen species we grow in Illinois, these are a few of my favorites that are long lasting as a cut evergreen:

Narrowleaf Evergreens

Broadleaf Evergreens

White Pine









Where do I cut?
  • Don't concentrate all your cutting on one side or portion of the plant. Remove foliage from various sections of the tree or shrub with the goal of making it look like no foliage was removed at all.
  • If cutting a smaller piece of evergreen, cut back to a joint, which is where a side shoot emerges from a main branch.
  • Many evergreens will not put on new growth if you cut back beyond the green growth, so be careful when cutting to still maintain the proper shape of the tree.
  • Never remove more than one-third of a tree or shrub's growth at one time. This will cause too much stress to the plant.

What if I don't have any evergreens in my garden?
  • Hit up the local garden center or florist! They all have evergreen boughs available for purchase this time of year. If you need a lot, purchase a tree and cut your smaller pieces from there.
  • Or ask a neighbor if they'll share, but be sure you have permission!
What else do I need to know?
  • Wear gloves, that sap is sticky!
  • If you're not going to use the evergreens right away, keep them in a moist, cool area like a bag or box in the garage for storage until you're ready to use them.

    Check back later in the week and we'll be discussing how to keep those evergreens lasting as long as possible indoors!