Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Living Holiday Tree Choices
If you plan to decorate a live tree indoors and then move or plant it outdoors, choose a smaller size tree, as it will adapt better than a more mature one. After you bring the tree home, water it well and store it in an unheated garage or outbuilding for two or three days as a "halfway spot" till you move it indoors. Keep the rootball moist and the boughs misted. Once the tree is in place indoors away from heating vents or fireplaces, either water it directly or by scattering ice cubes around the soil surface to slowly seep down into the entire rootball. Limit its time indoors to a maximum of seven days; fewer if the house is very warm.

Move the tree outside again to the garage, shed, or a protected spot for at least two weeks before moving or planting it in the open. The longer you enjoy the tree in the warm house, the longer it will need to readapt to outdoor conditions.

Clever Gardening Technique

Mini Holiday Trees
Norfolk Island pines can become mini-holiday trees, with their own tiny lights and ornaments. Provide each room in the house with its own individually decorated tree, such as one with cookie cutters hung with red ribbon bows for the kitchen.

Other living plants for indoor color include African violet, azalea, begonias, Christmas cactus, Christmas (Jerusalem) cherry, cyclamen, and kalanchoe, as well as the ever-dependable chrysanthemum and poinsettia. Be sure to give these plants bright, indirect light; keep them cool and out of drafts; and water them just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. Cacti and succulents are also good choices, but they need direct sunlight and very little water.

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