Preserving Magnolia Leaves for the Holidays

December 1, 2008 | By | Comments (10)

Greetings, Thanksgiving survivors! Now that you’re wondering what to do with all of that left-over squirrel, I know you’ll appreciate some helpful holiday decorating tips that will effectively obliterate any free time you have between now and Christmas!

Debbie asks: “We are getting ready to trim some limbs from a scraggly magnolia.  I would love to preserve the leaves for Christmas decorating, but I don’t know how to do it effectively and efficiently.  I will have ten to fifteen branches of varying lengths to work with.  My goal is to preserve them so I can make a garland for my front door or banister. Any quick, cost friendly ideas?”

Answer: If you just want them to look good through the holidays, I would do the following:

1. Wait until the last minute to cut
2. Cut fresh, healthy growth from the ends of the branches
3. Keep the leaves in a cool room out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources

Now, if you want to preserve them long after the holidays are gone, I suggest you use this this link to read very thorough instructions from the Clemson University Extension about using glycerin and a number of other methods to preserve cut material for the holidays. The Grump just loves takinbg advantage of the hard work of others!


  1. Steve Bender


    It’s worth a try. Spray them and see what happens.

    January 3, 2015 at 9:07 am
  2. J. Fornnarino

    After the holidays my live magnolia wreath with some pine boughs is starting to smell. Once it thoroughly dries out, can it be sprayed, possibly gold to keep as an inside decoration?

    December 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm
  3. Steve Bender
    November 28, 2014 at 11:50 am
  4. christy

    same question as Dforgash,

    November 23, 2014 at 9:00 am
  5. Steve Bender

    Magnolia leaves preserved with glycerin naturally turn light brown. You could try adding some green food coloring to the glycerin solution to make the leaves greener.

    October 31, 2014 at 9:42 am
  6. Lindseyco

    How does one preserve green colored magnolia leaves (green not brown) using Glycerin for a garland. The Clemson sight you gave wasn’t helpful.

    October 27, 2014 at 10:40 am
  7. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Cut magnolia branches usually sprout new growth. However, not if you cut them all the way to the trunk.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:02 am
  8. s browder

    the utility company is going to trim back lower branches of my magnolia. should I have them cut the branches at the trunk or will the branch eventually grow back if cut a foot out from the trunk?

    January 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm
  9. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Supposedly, you can place the cut ends of branches in anti-freeze and the branches will absorb it and be preserved. However, as anti-freeze is highly toxic to humans and animals, I don’t recommend using it for this purpose.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:02 am
  10. D Forgash

    I have heard that you can preserve magnolia with anti freeze rather than glycerine.
    Is this true? How?

    October 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

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