Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

The Best Garden Greenery for Holiday Decorating (and Which Ones to Avoid)

There is no need to look any farther than your own garden for the best greenery for holiday decorating. Right outside your door growing in your garden, neighborhoods, and parks are shrubs, trees, and perennial plants that would be very happy to share a few branches with you for seasonal enjoyment.

This will guide you through some of the garden greenery for holiday decorating based on appearance and longevity, and also which ones you should avoid.Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Types of Greenery for Holiday Decorating

Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Responsible Pruning

When harvesting greenery from your garden, it’s important to follow the basics of pruning to maintain the overall health of the plant. Take care to remove branches from trees and shrubs as if you were thinning the structure. This will help to retain the beauty of the plant in the landscape. Perennials that have dried in the garden can be cut back completely without any issues.The best garden greenery for decorating and how to harvest it

Conifers

Cut these needle-leaf evergreens from well-established tress/shrubs. The branches should be firm, cool to the touch, and full of green needles. Avoid those that are browning, yellowing, shedding needles, or have obvious signs of disease and pest problems.

  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Spruce
  • Juniper
  • Cedar
  • Cypress
  • Arborvitae
  • Cryptomeria
  • Hemlock

Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Broad-Leaf Evergreens

Broad-leaf evergreens add a different texture and a whole lot of color to holiday arrangements. These are some of my favorites.

  • Aucuba
  • Euonymus
  • Bay
  • Holly
  • Magnolia
  • Laurel
  • Ligustrum
  • Pittosporum
  • Viburnum
  • Nandina
  • Pieris
  • Ivy
  • Sarcococca
  • California Lilac
  • Variegated Boxwood

Herbs

Herbs are a fragrant addition to holiday decorating and compliment the other elements well.

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Dill (seed head)
  • Fennel (seed head)
  • Oregano (Flowers)

Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Perennials and Flowers

Perennials that have flowered and dried in the garden can provide beautiful additions to a wreath or garland. When the holiday season comes around, you’ll be happy that you didn’t cut these back!

Dried Flower Heads

  • Hydrangea
  • Sedum “Autumn Joy”
  • English Ivy
  • Chinese Lantern Flower

Dried Seed Heads and Pods

  • Poppy
  • Coneflower
  • Nigella
  • Luneria
  • Eryngium
  • Globe Thistle
  • Allium
  • Daylily
  • Magnolia
  • Pinecones
  • Crocosmia

Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Branches

Any branches that look beautiful in the garden would look lovely in holiday decorating as well but there are a few that are extra special.

  • Red and Yellow Twig Dogwoods have bright-colored branches that glow in the landscape as well as in arrangements.
  • Curly willows and Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick add festive curled branches.
  • Birch is a long-time holiday season favorite. Add sections of birch logs to decorations
  • Branches with colorful berries are worth adding into arrangements. Notably, holly (red), snowberry (white), Cotoneaster (orange and red), and beauty berry (purple) have berries that can’t be beat.

Greenery to Avoid

There are some types of garden greenery that it is best to avoid, as they won’t last long enough to enjoy in arrangements. Yew looks pretty in the garden but it will shed its leaves within a day. Norway spruce is a popular Christmas tree but it’s also the one that sheds needles the fastest.

Boxwood is probably one of the most popular broad-leaf evergreens for holiday decorating, but I only use the variegated varieties. Many of the common green varieties smell terrible (like cat urine) and that isn’t something that I want on my door or holiday table.

Finally, be sure to look for greenery that is free from pests and diseases. If there is debris leftover from the growing season, you can always give the sturdier cuttings a wash with the garden hose.

Holiday greenery is not limited just to evergreens, and it’s not always green! Some of the most beautiful holiday arrangements include both needle and broad-leaf evergreen foliage, as well as perennial flower and seed heads, herbs, and branches.

Did I miss any? If you have any garden greenery for holiday decorating that you love or avoid, please leave a comment and share your thoughts. There are so many materials to work with out in the world—especially in differing climates—and I’m always learning new ones that work (and don’t).

You might like these other posts from our pruning series:

Now that you know what to cut, here is what to make!

Gardening For Your Front Door: Making a Fresh Wreath

Simple & Elegant Natural Pinecone Swag

A Festively Frugal Holiday Flower Arrangement

Simple Christmas Decorations That Anyone Can Do

Holiday Planter Before and After

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Rae Dassler
    Rae DasslerDecember 4,16

    Hi Stephanie i am looking for diy sheets or a book on how to make glass beaded garden stakes and chimes. Are you able to suggest where i can get them from. I am not very art so want some simple instructions to get started. Your help would be very much appreciated

  2. Courtney Helena
    Courtney HelenaDecember 8,16

    Hi, Stephanie! As usual, a great article. How I miss having access to “wintery” plants this time of year! Here in Brazil, we have pines and such, but they typically look completely different. I usually decorate with bromeliads and other plants that you have as houseplants! In fact, I’m in the process of writing a post about festive tropical plants to use as holiday decor… should be on my blog by Monday, Dec. 12!

Leave a Reply