Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2007
Regional Report

Care for Living Christmas Trees

If you decide to bring a living tree into your home for the holidays, make sure it has bright, indirect light, sits well away from heater vents, and has a very large saucer to collect runoff water. Set the saucer up on blocks to prevent damage to carpet or floors. Empty one ice cube tray onto the surface of the soil every day to keep the roots cool and to water the tree. Use strings of small lights to reduce heat to the foliage. Allow living evergreens to stay indoors 10 days maximum to prevent needle drop.

Change Watering Routines

Water plants that are located under eaves throughout the winter months. Remove saucers from under outdoor container plants to prevent root damage. Reduce the amount of water to indoor plants to imitate their natural environments, and step up the humidity by using a humidifier or setting pots on pebbles in a tray of shallow water. Discontinue watering indoor cacti until February or early March.

Feed the Squirrels

If you have a source of unshelled nuts, set some out for the squirrels. The offering will be much appreciated, and perhaps with something better to eat, the squirrels will leave your bulbs alone!

Hang Outdoor Holiday Ornaments for Wildlife

Make edible ornaments for birds and wildlife. Slices of oranges and apples pierced and hung with colorful ribbon will be appreciated by the birds. Roll pinecones in peanut butter, then dip in birdseed and hang in shrubs with decorative tinsel wire. Peanuts in the shell strung on colorful bits of yarn are irresistible to blue jays. Short popcorn strings make a nice offering to crows. Remember to keep birdbaths clean and full during winter months.

Deadhead Cyclamen Flowers

Deadheading will help your cyclamen plants bloom well into spring. Grasp the stems of faded flowers near the base of the stems, twist and pull. Leaving the fleshy stubs on the plant can cause fungal disease. Cyclamen grow from bulbs and are best watered by setting the pot in a bowl of water up to the rim. Avoid getting the top of the bulb wet, which can encourage fungus disease.

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