Monday, February 6, 2023
Feb. 6, 2023

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Gardening with Allen: Festive flowers add holiday cheer


I noticed poinsettias in a store already. Could you give me some pointers so if I buy a plant early it will last through the holidays? What other flowers can we use to brighten our home during this period?

There are many possibilities to use flowers and other natural plant materials to add festivity to our homes and offices this time of year. The poinsettia is at the top of the list. I like to have a plant in every room. I always have at least one red one to show off the Christmas colors. Many other colors and combinations are also available including peppermint bi-colors.

Other potted flowers include azaleas, kalanchoes, mums and cyclamen. My daughter always sends us a beautiful Christmas cut flower bouquet that lasts for at least two weeks.

When temperatures are near freezing, plants and flowers you just purchased should be covered on their way to the car. Poinsettias can be damaged by temperatures in the low 40s. Although a shopping bag is helpful, a scarf or coat will give more protection.

Although most potted flowers, including poinsettias, will slowly deteriorate if they do not get some light, most plants will survive for several weeks with typical indoor lighting conditions. They will do better if given some direct sunlight at least part of the time.

The main thing that determines plant longevity is proper watering. The rule of thumb is to let the top of the soil become dry before watering and then apply enough water so that a little runs out the drain holes. I like to feel the soil with my finger almost every day for every plant. I water plants individually rather than watering everything at once.

Most plants will tolerate a little overwatering, but if the soil is constantly wet, roots will start to deteriorate from lack of air supply. If most of the roots die, then the top begins to die.

Needle evergreen branches and shrubs and trees with red berries are very good for indoor holiday decorating. Evergreens add wonderful, natural smells. Besides using the lower branches from the Christmas tree, almost everyone has some evergreen shrubs and trees that could spare some branches for decoration. Does your evergreen tree have a few branches that are dragging on the ground?

Most junipers could use some shaping. The best way to shorten an extra long branch is to cut it well inside other branches so the stub does not show. Do you or a friend or neighbor have shrubs such as pyracantha, cotoneaster and heavenly bamboo, which produce red berries? Clusters or ropes of evergreens with some berries make excellent decorations for mantles, shelves and banisters.