Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2006
Regional Report

Keep Cut Trees Fresh

Cut Christmas trees will hold their needles better if you give them an old-fashioned cut-and-soak treatment. Ask the salesman to make a fresh cut or do it yourself, then prop the tree up in a bucket of warm water outside. Let it soak overnight, then install in the tree stand.

Choose Living Trees Carefully

Many people would like a living Christmas tree, to decorate indoors now and plant outside later. But conditions indoors and outdoors aren't favorable for many varieties. Consider instead Eastern red cedar, Carolina Sapphire, or King William's Pine, popular among Southern tree farmers for cut and living Christmas trees.

Extend the Life of Garlands

When we deck the halls, there's nothing sadder than constant shedding on the mantel or stairs. Prevent dehydration with a spray of an antidesiccant, available at garden centers and Christmas tree lots. To extend the life of garlands and trees, avoid hot spots like strong sunlight, heater vents, and working fireplaces.

Caring for Magnolias

Sad-looking magnolias need a second look. Lots of dropped leaves from all over the tree can simply be the result of a dry or very wet summer. Plan to irrigate regularly or direct water away from the tree. However, if the leaves also have spots, consider spraying with Bordeaux mix.

Give Easy-Care Orchids

The finest decoration, gift, or self-indulgence for any gardener must be orchids. Phalaenopsis with colorful names like 'Taipei Gold' and 'Sogo Rose' readily inhabit bright windows and human comfort zones. They will bloom annually after exposure to two weeks at 55 degrees, which usually happens just in time for the holidays.

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