Middle South

December, 2004
Regional Report

Plan on Decorative Plants

If you've found yourself purchasing materials for holiday decorations, now's the time to make a list of decorative plants you can grow yourself for next year's crafts. Consider holly (Ilex spp.), firethorn (Pyracantha), cotoneaster, and viburnum for their colorful berries, as well as broadleaf evergreens with variegated or gold-colored foliage to brighten up wreaths and swags.

Water Christmas Tree

Keep the reservoir on your Christmas tree stand filled with water. This not only keeps the tree looking fresh, it also minimizes the fire hazard. A dried-out tree will ignite much more readily than a fully hydrated one.

Caring for Poinsettias

Keep your poinsettia in a cool (65 to 70 degrees F.), bright spot, and keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated. Avoid areas near heaters, as well as drafty spots near doors. Once the plant begins to fade, you'll have to decide whether to toss it or try to keep it until next year -- possible, but somewhat challenging.

Remove Decorative Foil

Remove decorative foil around gift plants because it prevents proper drainage. Or, punch holes in the bottom and place the plant on a waterproof saucer. Most holiday plants prefer evenly moist soil and bright light.

Use Salt Carefully

Purchase special "plant-safe" deicing salt for use on walkways near plantings, or plan to use sand or sawdust instead. Regular salt runs off into soil and can harm plant roots.

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