A Little Care Goes a Long Way
What’s in the Garden:
Now that you’ve selected your Poinsettias and a cut (or perhaps a live) Christmas tree, you’ll want to keep them looking great as long as possible. Here are a few tips from our experts.
Caring for Poinsettias is fairly straightforward. These plants should not be overwatered, and should not be left sitting in water. Allow the soil to become dry to the touch before giving your Poinsettias a thorough watering.
Refrain from fertilizing Poinsettias while they are in full flower, and keep them out of cold or drafty conditions. These tropical plants need protection from the chill of a New Jersey winter.
Your Poinsettias will appreciate bright light, and can take full sun during the winter months.
These lovely houseplants can be left outside after the last threat of frost in May, and can remain outdoors through mid-August to early September. The flower bracts (the showy, colorful parts of the plant) should be cut back when placing them outside in the spring. A light (second) cut back/pinch can be done by mid August. Bring the Poinsettias back inside the house by September 1st.
Insider’s Tip: In this region, the days are naturally short enough to trigger a new bloom cycle just in time for Christmas. Once the plants are back inside the house, keep them in a room where there will be no interruption of the nighttime darkness. Consider placing a piece of tape over the light switch in that room to remind you not to disturb your Poinsettias during the entire night. During the day, your plants should be basking in a sunny window. It should take seven to nine weeks for the colorful bracts to appear. That means you should be seeing red…pink, white, etc. in late fall.
Cut Christmas Trees
Most people opt to bring home a cut Christmas tree – and with good reason! There is nothing like a perfectly shaped, evocatively scented evergreen. Those of us who like to decorate early and leave the tree standing until Epiphany need to keep that tree looking fresh for multiple weeks. Here are a few helpful hints.
If we’ve already cut the base of your tree here, be sure to get your tree into the stand filled with water within an hour or two.
If you will not be putting up your tree right away, keep it in a cool garage or a shady spot next to the house. You can make a fresh cut and place the butt end of the trunk in a bucket of water until moving in into the tree stand. Spray your tree with water from a garden hose to keep it fresh. When you are ready to put your tree in the stand, you will need to cut at least one-half to one inch from the base of the trunk.
Remember to keep your tree stand filled with water. If the stand is allowed to go dry, the capillary action that allows the tree to take up water will cease.
Your cut Christmas tree will last longer if you keep it away from any heat sources, and keep the room cool. Since you will also be sharing the room with your tree, we recommend keeping the temperature in the low 60s.
We also suggest using a product like Prolong to keep your tree looking fresh longer.
Insider’s Tip: Products like Wilt Pruf and Wilt Stop provide your cut trees, wreaths, swags, and roping with a naturally derived, nontoxic anti-desiccant/anti-transpirant that help prevent them from drying out. These products also prevent “winter burn,” which can affect your Rhododendrons, Hollies, Boxwoods, Azaleas, Laurels, and other evergreens.
Live Christmas Trees (Containerized or Balled & Burlapped)
If you brought home a live tree this year, we recommend that you do not leave it inside your house for more than five days. If the tree is left indoors, it will become acclimated to the warmer household temperatures and will begin to grow. When placing your live tree back outdoors, help the tree make the transition by leaving it in a cool room or a garage for a few days before taking it outside. If the outdoor temperatures dip into the 20s, consider leaving your tree in that cool room or garage until the cold snap passes. Keep the tree near the windows so it can receive some light.
Insider’s Tip: Dig the hole for your live tree before the ground freezes. Measure the container or root ball and dig a hole that will accommodate the tree. Leave the soil in a garage or shed. This way, if the ground freezes, you can still plant the tree in the frozen hole and place the reserved soil around it.
Mixing it Up
This year, if you want to add a little variety to your holiday decorations, bring home a Christmas Cactus or a Cyclamen, which is our Holiday Plant of the Week and now on sale.
Christmas Cactus is a “short-day plant” that loves to flower when sunset starts to arrive early. These plants produce elaborate looking blossoms in every shade from white to fuchsia to orange to red. Give your Christmas Cactus cool temperatures and remember not to overwater them! During the late spring and summer, leave your plant outdoors. It can stay outside right up until the first frost. Bring it indoors before frost hits, and watch as it sets buds and prepares to bloom just in time for the holidays.
Your Cyclamen will enjoy a spot in a cool, bright window. Water your plant thoroughly and allow it to dry out before watering it again. Don’t let your plant sit in water, and remember to keep it clean by pinching any spent flowers all the way back to the corm/tuber. Your Cyclamen will reward you with gorgeous deep green leaves that are “etched” with white, and tall stems that bear ruffled flowers in white, deep pink, purple, and red.
Enjoy decorating for the holidays! As always, we will be happy to help you in any way possible. We appreciate your patronage!