Dig It! Holiday Plants
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
December 10, 2009
Seasons Greetings everyone! We are at the time of year when in the midst of all the holiday gatherings with family and friends the need arises for hostess gifts or perhaps simply some fresh greenery to lift our spirits during these winter days. For the botanical minded this can be accomplished using one of the staple plants we traditionally find during the month of December. Just about everyone loves to receive a potted plant and, for those who lack a green thumb, a dried evergreen variety will provide a wonderful alternative. Here are a few examples of common holiday houseplants and the care they require.
Christmas cactus can tolerate anywhere from low light to bright and sunny (but not direct sun) areas - these versatile plants can live for a very long time with proper care. This is not a true cactus and so it does require moderate watering, but take measures not to over water. If you receive a plant and want to encourage blooms for next Christmas, slowly reduce the water during the month of October to induce dormancy, which will lead to a showy display for the holidays.
One of the most widely recognized Christmas flowers is the poinsettia, which is a plant native to Mexico. Poinsettias are easily cared for, so if the room is a comfortable temperature for you, your plant will be happy too. Make sure to avoid both excessive heat and cold drafts and especially when transporting, cover with a large plastic bag. Poinsettias prefer indirect sunlight for 6 or more hours/day. Provide water when the soil feels dry to the touch and do not allow the plant to sit in standing water. Finally, don’t fertilize when they are in bloom, but you can use an all-purpose fertilizer after the blooming season. Have you always been told that poinsettias are poisonous? It seems that the belief stems from the death of a child in Hawaii in 1919, which was attributed to a leaf from the plant. The story has been perpetrated ever since, although there really is no evidence to suggest the plant is highly toxic. (In experimental doses, a 50 lb. child would have to consume over 1.25 lbs of leaves to have such a reaction.) The poinsettia belongs to the genus Euphorbia, which includes several plants that are toxic, so the plant is not really deadly, but neither is it edible.
Sometimes people find it easier or more appropriate to give a dried arrangement or wreath. This time of year evergreen branches are a popular choice because of their seasonal significance. Some other options include a holly bough, which stands for ‘truth.’ Care should be exercised when decorating with holly around pets and children, who might be tempted by the poisonous berries. A sprig of mistletoe is always a festive addition, although once again this plant is toxic, so make sure it is inaccessible to any wayward relations who might want to eat it rather than stand underneath. Now you are armed with information on how to make your holiday plants thrive into 2010.
To share more gardening tips and secrets, come to the next Sage and Snow Garden Club meeting February 9, 2010 at 11:30 for social time & noon for the meeting in the Cooperative Extension Service Office at 621 South Pine, Pinedale. Contact the Garden Club at Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941, at email@example.com or call 307-859-8606. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to www.pindealeonline.com and click on the link under "clubs". http://www.pinedaleonline.com/clubs/sageandsnowgardenclub.htm