Caring for Holiday Plants

The holidays are here again! Time to get out those dusty boxes of ornaments and untangle those lights. Hopefully you can still fit into your favorite reindeer sweater to wear to the office party. It’s also time to start decorating the house, so in this post I’ve included some ideas and tips about two holiday favorites – Christmas trees and poinsettias – plus a few to-do’s for the yard and garden as well.

Wanting to do something different for a Christmas tree this year? Consider trying a living tree rather than the standard-cut fir. New to this idea? Well, here’s a rundown: instead of shelling out big bucks on a tree that you will throw away in a few weeks, buy a container-grown evergreen from a nursery and use it as a decorated Christmas tree. When the season is over, find a spot in the yard and plant it. This way, you can enjoy it as a Christmas tree and then enjoy the additional benefit of an evergreen in your yard for many years. Blue Point juniper, Leyland cypress and Japanese black pine are all good options for living Christmas trees. If you like to hang heavy ornaments, then Deodar cedar is a great option to consider, as it has strong branches. If you want a nice living Christmas tree that can double as a house plant, then Norfolk Island pine could be the way to go.

When the tree is inside, keep it in the container it came in and set it over a water pan. Water it sparingly, but don’t let it completely dry out – watering once a week will usually work fine. Many nurseries and hardware stores carry living Christmas trees this time of year, including trees that come in festive containers, so don’t miss out if you’re interested!

If you’re set on using a traditional-cut Christmas tree, I’ve got a great tip to help keep your tree fresh. Keep the pan under the tree full of water, adding a product called Superthrive every time you add water. Superthrive is actually a root stimulator and is sold at most nurseries. The product serves as a carbohydrate source for the tree and really helps keep it as fresh as possible.

Decorate with poinsettias? Here are a few tips to keep them looking good all season long. Poinsettias like bright light, so try to put them in areas that receive some sunlight through a window. In order to know when the plant needs water, check the soil by touching it and water only when it feels dry to the touch. Also, try to get all the water on the soil and not on the leaves, which will help prevent fungus. Finally, if you do notice any grey fuzz or discoloring on any leaves, remove them as soon as possible. Remember, poinsettias come in different colors now, so there are pinks and whites to go along with the traditional red. If you want to have something really unique, try and find the Winter Rose poinsettias. The red leaves cup and curl like a long-stem rose flower! So, feel free to break away from the norm and try something a little creative with your poinsettia choice this year.

In all this festive fun, don’t forget that winter is still a good time to be working in the yard and garden. Now is a great time to plant trees and evergreens like the aforementioned living Christmas trees. December is also a good time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, Hardy amaryllis and hyacinth can all be planted now for a garden bursting with color this spring! Remember, it’s a good idea to plant more bulbs in an area than you think it might require so you get a full display. There are always bulbs that don’t make it, and you can thin out any extra plants later if needed.

That’s all for now from the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway. I’ll have more for you soon.

Happy holidays –

Drew Demler

Manager of the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway

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