Using Fresh Greens Safely during the Holidays

In our high, dry desert climate we often hear customers at the garden center talk about how they’d love to have a live or cut Christmas tree, but that it dries out so fast that they are afraid to bring them into their homes. Moisture loss is certainly of real concern, but the good news is that there’s a product that can make it safer and easier for your family to enjoy fresh greenery in your home this holiday season.

Although anti-transpirants have been around a long time, they are just beginning to be noticed by homeowners as a way to more safely bring the outdoors into homes during the dry winter months. Also called anti-desiccants, these spray preparations provide a protective coating to evergreens and other foliage that acts as a barrier or shield to prevent the moisture in the foliage from escaping and drying the branches out.

Sold under several names and brands, the two which you’ll see most often are Wilt Stop, and Wilt Pruf. Wilt Stop is a product that is derived from the resin of the pine tree and is a natural product with a piney scent. It creates a polymer film which, when sprayed on a tree or greenery, evaporates leaving behind the protective barrier. This film slowly weathers away over a period of several months, depending on the temperatures. It’s available in either a ready-to-use spray or a concentrate that you mix with water. Wilt Pruf is also a natural product which acts in the same manner.

So why do you need these? Adding this layer of protection to live or cut trees greatly enhances their ability to retain the moisture that already exists in the branches keeping them from drying out which greatly reduces their flammability. The same holds true for any other greenery that you bring indoors- wreaths, table centerpieces, boughs, and garlands. This does not mean that you no longer have to water your tree. Instead, think of these products as an insurance policy for your holidays!

They are easy to use. Once you have selected your tree or other greenery and brought it home, place in the sunlight somewhere outdoors. Mix up the concentrate following label directions or simply use the ready-to-use spray and apply liberally, but do not allow it to freeze on the foliage. Allow two to three hours for the spray to dry before bringing it inside. These solutions need the ultraviolet rays of sunlight in order for the polymer film to form.

If you choose to use the concentrate form, it’s important that you be sure to add it to the water, not the water to the concentrate, then mix it well, and shake well again just before application. After applying, immediately clean your spray equipment with hot soapy water. Having used this product for over twenty years myself, I can tell you that, as wonderful as it is, it will clog a sprayer more quickly than just about anything else I’ve ever seen. Since it is derived from pine trees, if you think about how difficult it is to remove pitch and tree sap from hands and clothing,  you’ll have an idea of what it’s like to work with this product. If you spray something by mistake, clean with hot soapy water immediately. If it doesn’t come off, don’t despair- it will wear off with time.

Christmas trees and greens are not the only use for this product however, especially if the winter is dry. Wilt Stop and Wilt Pruf will protect all plants in your yard against the windy conditions of a dry winter, and also against moisture loss during a hot summer which means they can be used on not only trees, but also shrubs, perennials and other plants in your landscape. They work especially well on plants when the roots are frozen during the winter months since they are unable to take up to replenish moisture during that time. Tender transplants or newly installed trees and shrubs will benefit from an application as well during the time that the root systems develop and establish themselves.

If you’ve been longing for an old fashioned Christmas complete with a live or cut Christmas tree, halls decked with boughs of holly or hung with ribbons and roping, then Wilt Stop or Wilt Pruf may be your answer this holiday season!