Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Plants For The Season

Plants for the Christmas season can be as simple as buying a red leaved poinsettia or forcing bulbs to decorate your home during the cold months of fall and winter. Holly branches from the garden covered in berries in a vase or on the table can become a long lasting, natural centerpiece for the holidays. The typical items for winter months include forcing paperwhites (always pretty and smell beautiful) and large hyacinth bulbs in a pot indoors. Instead try forcing crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs for the holidays. Grape hyacinths come in a number of colors, most typically purple, while crocus come in purples, whites and yellows. Grape hyacinths cone shape with small bell flowers and the cup shape of the crocus are both lovely. Imagine these tiny flowers in a pot on your sill or in pots decorating your table and it will be worth the effort to force these early bulbs indoors.

Amaryllis bulbs are always fun to pot up, although the timing of bloom can vary from the time you plant the bulb. Your amaryllis bulb generally will take 7 to 10 weeks to bloom so time your amaryllis bulb planting in November for bloom in December. Christmas cactus are fun to grow indoors and have beautiful flowers that open in December. My dad had quite a green thumb which is where I get my gardening gene. My dad took a poinsettia after the Christmas holiday one year and planted it up as a hanging house plant. His intention wasn't to color the leaves again for the holidays but simply grow the poinsettia as a houseplant. The poinsettia grew very large over the years with a good two feet of green leaves, maintaining a healthy looking green all year long. The poinsettia was beautiful even without the red leaves. This is another way to keep your poinsettia live and growing, with or without the festive color at Christmas.

A fun tradition my dad started in my family was planting a small live pine tree in a pot then using the tree as our Christmas tree for many years until it was big enough to plant out in our garden. We had a number of Christmas trees lining our quarter acre property when I was a kid. I continue this tradition today. Our Christmas tree in Eureka is a redwood started from a foot and a half tall tree in a gallon pot. Two years later the tree is a good three feet tall and growing, with plenty of light green tips of growth during the summer months. We stop watering the pot a week before bringing it indoors. Once we bring the tree indoors, we place a plastic saucer under the pot, cover the square pot with a tree apron and the tree is ready to be decorated. Adding a little water during the month when needed keeps the live tree in good shape. Once the holiday is done the Christmas tree pot goes back on our deck until next holiday season. My plan is to keep this tree in a pot. Once the tree grows too big to bring indoors it can still live in a pot on the deck and another small Christmas tree can be purchased to pot up. The Christmas tree is great to look at all year long and an earth friendly way to use live trees for the holidays.

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