Upper South

October, 2010
Regional Report

Create a Christmas Centerpiece from the Garden

Make a beautiful centerpiece for the dinner table from your garden, adding just a few store-bought flowers for bright color. Choose a low bowl or waterproof basket, insert a piece of fresh-flower foam soaked in water, and begin arranging. Fill the container with an assortment of both needled and broad-leaved evergreens, then insert some flowers. Or, add painted twigs or pine cones with a floral pick attached. Add water every four or five days.

Place Poinsettias Wisely

With good care, poinsettias will stay in bloom throughout the winter months. If possible, bring it home on a day above freezing or wrap it well before taking outdoors. At home, place it where it will get at least six hours of bright light a day. Avoid areas with drafts, such as near an outside door, or near a heat source, which will dry the plant. Normal home temperatures should be fine. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.

Give Amaryllis Some Support

With their glorious large clusters of flowers atop a singular stalk, amaryllis are a wonderful addition to the winter indoor garden. Don%%%t let tragedy happen, with the top-heavy stalk falling over. Use a 12- to 15-inch garden stake designed for single stems. Just be careful when placing the stake into the soil that it is a safe distance outside the bulb.

Decorate A Tree for the Birds

Sure, it%%%s great to have trees lighted at night, but give a thought to decorating outdoor trees for use by songbirds during the day. String garlands of popcorn, cranberries, raisins, and peanuts still in their shells. Hang %%%ornaments%%% of carrots, apples, and chunks of suet.
Add small %%%seed balls,%%% available from garden centers. Choose a tree that is visible from the house so that you can enjoy the birds easily.

Prolong the Life of Live-Cut Christmas Trees

The freshest, longest-lasting Christmas trees are the ones you cut yourself at a Christmas tree farm. If you wait more than 4 hours to set up a fresh-cut tree or buy a tree from a lot, cut at least an inch off the butt and immediately place in water. Use a stand that will hold at least 1 gallon of water and always keep the tree in water, never letting the base dry out. And, yes, plain tap water is fine.

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