As I travel around, I know it’s the holiday season. The Salvation Army bell ringers fill the air, parking lots are full, and parents are saying “I’m gonna tell Santa if you don’t be good.” Thankfully, I have matured past, or at least I am physically past, that last part. Another sign of the season is all the Christmas plants that are for sale in the stores. Garden centers, grocery stores, florists, and even department stores have plants just waiting to brighten someone’s home. Here are a few plants that make great gifts and tips on how to keep them looking vibrant.
The poinsettia is a traditional Christmas plant that goes with anyone’s décor. Poinsettias come in red, pink, cream, and peach, variegated.
They require bright light such as that from next to a window, consistent watering, good drainage, and fertilizer. As with most plants, drainage is critical. Their roots do not tolerate wet soil. Fertilize with 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer at half the application rate each time you water. With proper care, poinsettias will retain their color through mid-February.
Norfolk Island Pine is a classic, slow-growing, indoor evergreen that can be a part of the home for many years. Smaller plants are great for centerpieces, while taller plants are excellent for stand-alone floor plants. They require a bright location but do not place the plant in full sun.
Supplemental lighting with a fluorescent bulb may be required to keep the plant dense and compact. Keep the soil moist but not wet. These plants do not tolerate wet soil. They do, however, prefer a more humid environment. This can be accomplished by placing the plant on a saucer with pebbles and water. Be sure not to let the plant’s roots touch the water. Fertilize two times per year with a liquid house plant fertilizer. Plants grow towards the light, so rotate the plant weekly to keep the shape symmetrical. The plant will require repotting every two to three years.
Finally, there is the gift of greenery. Although not necessarily a living plant, greens are cuttings from pine, cedar, holly, and other evergreens.
Greenery can also be arranged with flowers such as carnations and even candles for centerpieces. Keep the cut ends in water, or if the florist inserted the ends into a sponge, keep the sponge wet. Keep greens out of direct sunlight, and keep them away from heat sources and HVAC vents. Greenery will last for about two weeks indoors. If you have a garage, place the greens there overnight to maintain their appearance.
Why wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to give these natural gifts? They are meant to be enjoyed, and who does not like an early gift.
Besides, giving early gifts places your name at the top of Santa’s nice list.
Oh, and Santa, I have been extra good this year.
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