Even when it’s already dead—let’s spray!



This is the first time I have seen Wilt Pruf sold as an accompaniment to holiday wreaths and other decorative cut evergreens around here. There was no signage, but I am assuming you’re meant to spray it on them as a preservative. I wonder what the point would be—with cold weather impeding their decay, how long do you really need a wreath to last? Mine always look just as good when I take them down—sometimes in early spring—as they did when I put them up in December. And it’s not like you’re trying to keep leaves alive through the winter, as with rhododendrons (not sure that ever worked either). This stuff is dead. It's over.

Inside the house I might take it more seriously. Would this keep decorative greenery from drying out before I’m ready to get rid of it? But then you have the danger of WP dripping all over everything and most likely interfering with the evergreen fragrance, which is the main reason I have it.  Hmm. Spray it on outside and let it dry? Will it kill the scent?

If there is any good reason to treat cut evergreens with this, I’m interested in knowing about it. If there isn’t, then here’s just another excuse to spray stuff around for no reason.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. It does seem to delay wilting and withering by retarding moisture loss from the needles/leaves. General recommendation is to soak the wreath or whatever for a few hours, let the surface dry, then spray outside. Once dry you can bring it inside. I haven’t noticed a lot of scent once dry, although there is more inside than out of course.

    Two big problems are that it seals in the fragrance of things like firs, and that it will change the color of waxy surfaced material – so blue spruce aren’t and juniper berries turn brown.

    It may have some benefit of cutting down on fire hazard on rapidly drying foliage. Outside, it would mainly be of benefit where a wreath or swag was on a sunlit surface especially if also behind a glass door.

    Not a fan of it myself, because I keep the season short, but I can see the point for the Thanksgiving to Valentines day people.

  2. I should have mentioned that I also don’t use it because of the polymers breathed in when spraying it. Way, way back when I sprayed it in mass while working in a garden center, I’d wear a respirator. I’m sure that is not necessary on a home scale, but I’d wear a good dust mask (2 straps) and face shield or goggles and avoid spraying in wind.

  3. In CT with an exposed, western facing front door, WiltPruf has done wonders for my annual boxwood wreath. Without it, the leaves dry out and turn yellow and brown long before I’m ready to take it down.

    I wouldn’t use it on anything I had indoors, but I find WiltPruf very protective of both my live and cut broadleaf evergreen plants that otherwise get scorched by the winter sun.

  4. Eeh i dunno that doesnt seem safe to me for some reason. I could understand having water tubes at the end of each branch to keep it fresh. This doesnt look so safe.

  5. to answer my own question above (and if anyone’s also interested), Wilt-Pruf is derived from pine oil or resin. You can go to the web page (wiltpruf.com) to find out more.

    From my perspective, it seems like a waste of time, money and plastic packaging (but I’m not making a living out of it, and I live in Oregon where wreaths don’t easily dry out).

  6. Because I’ve used it on some broad-leaved evergreens during winter here in the windy prairie, I once tried it on a Christmas tree…and believed that the tree did not dry out as much that season as it usually does. But, I haven’t seen any controlled studies. Might be useful on “living” Christmas trees that have to survive indoors for a few months. This is no drier environment than most of our homes.

  7. Wilt pruf will keep the greens from losing moisture from transpiration by coating the stomata on the needle surface. This moisture loss occurs even once the branch is cut. If you doubt transpiration occurs, just stick the wreath in a sealed plastic bag and you should see moisture accumulate inside the bag.

  8. We use it at the nursery to spray our Christmas trees and certain wreaths and roping. On the trees you use it lightly and it does make the tree look fresh longer, but it does decrease the scent, especially in the immediate days after spraying then the scent returns. We dip our solid fir and boxwood wreaths in it and let them dry. As someone previously mentioned, it does turn blue foliage green, like Colorado blue spruce or Arizona cypress. We do not dip the white pine wreaths as any moisture speeds up the decay of this material. If I was cutting my own tree or making my own wreath at a time close to Christmas, I wouldn’t bother with Wilt-Pruf.

  9. In mythbusters, they came up with the conclusion that “spraying nothing” works the best for Christmas trees. Don’t spray hairspray on them .. unless you don’t care about creating a big fire hazard in your house. Google Christmas tree fire video.

  10. boxwood wreaths, fresh cut holly, fresh cut magnolia in the house all last much longer and look fresher when sprayed with wiltpruf
    before being brought into the heat! balsam wreaths in new jersey will not be green in the spring if left out all winter without wiltpruf unless you are wearing rose colored glasses

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