Christmas Symbols: Poinsettias, Holly and Firs
by Candida L Eittreim
edited: Friday, December 14, 2001
Posted: Friday, December 14, 2001
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Though I truly love living Christmas trees, they are often difficult to transition from the indoors to the garden successfully.
I love Christmas! And can hardly wait to fill my home with these special Christmas plants. Holly is a wonderful shrub,, and provides gorgeous Christmas color. Contrasting the glossy green leaves with the red berries, against the lighter green and cream holly, can set a dark corner of your garden or home, alight. Hollies are very easy care and disease resistant. Indoor or container hollies benefit from a weekly feeding with MirAcid or other acidifier. Keep the soil damp but not wet. A weekly bath for the leaves, if used as indoor plants, will help the leaves retain their glossy sheen and good health. In the Spring you can transplant holly into a semi-shaded area, where they will grow quite happily. An occasional trimming of leggy branches is all they need.
Though I truly love living Christmas trees, they are often difficult to transition from the indoors to the garden successfully. Either we set them aside after Christmas, meaning to plant them later, or they are so dried out they die anyway. Firs are truly not meant to be indoors, as their native climate is the higher colder mountain and foothill areas. Our over heated dry homes stress them beyond belief. All firs, as a rule, like a cool moist environment in an acidic soil. If you have to have a living tree, and it is small enough to be easily moved, I suggest keeping it outdoors during the day and only bringing it in during the evening, for a few hours. Keep the soil evenly wet, and mist frequently to keep the branches and needles well hydrated. Plant outdoors well before Spring sets in. The ground should still be quite cold, to get these trees set in correctly. Amend the soil if needed with sulfur, compost and phosphate, about a week or 2 before you plant your fir. This should give you a gorgeous tree for years to come.
Poinsettias now come in colors ranging from cream to grape. The long petals are actually bracts: leaf like extensions of the plant. These are temperamental plants, which don’t like being taken anywhere. Buy from a nursery or grower, rather than a supermarket display. Poinsettias are semi-tropicals from Mexico, specially bred for US markets. Don’t let their soil dry out completely and don’t mist the darker reds, they can spot. Feed the red poinsettias a tomato food to increase their deep red tones. When buying poinsettias, check to see how easily the soil mass slips from the pot. If it slips out in one piece, feels like concrete and can’t crumble, don’t bother with it. Look for healthy plants, with new growth and no roots twined around the bottom of the soil mass. Mist light colored poinsettias lightly and frequently, if kept indoors. Better yet make a grouping of 3-4 in a pebble -covered tray to provide color and humidity.
Holiday plants make lovely gifts, both for yourself and others. A few minutes of care when buying the plant, and once you get it home, can make the difference between having it still here next year, or gone in a few days. Always remove the foil wrapping immediately. It may be decorative, but it holds in too much water and leads to root rot. If the pot seems too small for the plant, there’s a good reason for it. The marketers squeeze/force bloom these plants by deliberately limiting root growth. This TEMPORARILY increases blooming, but ends up killing the plant. Place the new plant in a pot one size larger, with fresh clean soil. This will help it survive much longer. Remember, plants are living things, and require care and consideration, in order to live and thrive.
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\MERRY CHRISTMAS!