December: Collecting Christmas Greens

Northern Virginia is bountiful in its plant life. Southern Magnolia, Holly, Smilax or Jackson Vine, Ivy, Hemlock, Pine, Cryptomeria, Yew, Aucuba, Boxwood, Pyracantha and Nandina may all be pruned to provide Christmas greenery. There are a few points to remember when collecting these decorative materials:

1) Remember that you are pruning and in the wrong season. Remove the branch or stem at its base where it intersects another branch or stem. Prune with an eye toward thinning the entire plant equally for better air and light circulation in the growing season.
2) When you bring your collection inside, re-cut the ends of each stem or branch and then splitthem either with a knife or by smashing with a hammer just before plunging them into warm water. The greenery needs to remain in warm water for 8-24 hours. Allow to dry and then spray all foliage with "Wilt-Pruf."