Everyone is familiar with the traditional Winter Foliage we see every year, such as cedar, pine, and holly, which are all great. Don’t get me wrong, but there are lots of other options out there, readily available at this time of year. Here are some of my favorites and how best to use them in your holiday décor.
The green berries and grayish-green foliage make this a great accent Winter Foliage for arrangements and garlands. It will dry, but won’t drop its berries so it’s very low maintenance. I like it for the texture and softness it adds to arrangements. It looks great with white pine, dusty miller, and variegated pittosporum.
The berry is available all year round in red, lime green, cream, and peach. The red and green are commonly found at most quality florists during the holidays, and while it can be expensive at this time of year, a few stems add a great punch of color to your holiday Christmas arrangements. It typically lasts up to two weeks, and if the foliage browns simply remove it from each berry and you may get another week out of the berries.
This Winter Foliage makes a nice addition to a color scheme that doesn’t feature red, I find the yellowish cream buds clash a bit. It adds great interest to all green and white palettes, and its soft, flexible boughs work really well in garlands or footed vase arrangements.
This foliage has become very popular at holiday time over the last few years, showing up in every décor magazine. Commonly used in wreaths and orbs, it is well suited to both contemporary and traditional décor. You can find “preserved” boxwood at some retailers, which has been treated to last indefinitely but expect to pay big bucks. We add it in fresh square wreaths and use it as staple foliage in Christmas arrangements and bouquets. When sprayed with ‘Leaf Shine’ it gets nice and glossy and the dark green color works well with other lighter colored foliages.
Although this foliage is not long-lasting and can’t survive out of the water, I had to include it in my list. The color and texture are so unique, and the pale grey/green color of the leaves almost looks like it has frost on it. It’s great for party décor that doesn’t need to last the season. Purchase at your local florist but expect to pay a bit more than usual at this time of year.
Ilex is one of the most commonly used winter berries. Like many berried plants, it survives the longest in the cold. However, it has pretty good vase-life indoors if it is fresh. It will drop its berries like holly, but will likely outlast any flowers in an arrangement. It also works well as an accent in outdoor urns as long as the soil or potting medium stays damp and the temperatures are cool. My favorite look for ilex is en masse in a large vase, perfect for a front entryway or buffet table.
If you live on the West Coast, you can likely walk into the back yard and harvest all the ivy you will need for your holiday arrangements. Best used with a water source, it makes a great addition to footed or vase arrangements due to its cascading nature. Spray with ‘Leaf Shine’ to add glossiness and enhance the variegation in the leaves.
A great accent for outdoor urns and planters. These sticks will hold their beautiful dark red color if kept cold. It can be found locally if the temperatures drop enough to turn the bark. Otherwise, it’s usually readily available at garden centers and florists at this time of year.
I think this is the year-round favorite foliage of most florists and designers, including me. I like it at holiday time because of its softer sage green and white foliage; it adds a lot of interest to simple arrangements. Long-lasting if in water, each branch can be cut into segments for low arrangements. Especially those designed in an oasis, so while more expensive than your typical greens, it goes a long way. It is also available non-variegated with very dark green foliage, lovely at this time of year.
Last but definitely not least, the magnificent magnolia. Glossy green on top, suede-like golden brown on the back, this foliage is versatile and looks fantastic in a white and green palette. Especially with gold accents to bring out the brown. Leaves will dry if not kept in water. You can cut individual leaves from the branch and use them individually in arrangements.
I hope you find this list helpful and inspiring. While not an exhaustive list, it’s got all my favorites on it for sure. Mix any of the above with foliages that we find locally like cedar, pine, fir, and maybe holly to fill your house with festive holiday arrangements. Once you have a base of foliage, you can simply add and replace blooms as needed over the holiday season.