"If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener."
~J. C. Raulston
Fresh cut Christmas trees are a common holiday tradition. With the proper care, they can stay fresh, and be
safe through Christmas. However, you need to remember that a Christmas tree can always be a fire hazard, no matter how well you take care of it.
- Always put your tree in a water stand. Be sure to cut off at least one inch of the trunk and put it in water within 10 minutes of making your cut, or you will have to make another cut.
- Never let the water stand run out of water. Check the stand daily. The tree will use more water when
you first bring it in the house than it will use a week later.
A tree can use up to a gallon of water per day. If the
water stand runs out of water, you will need to make another 1" cut before the tree will be able to absorb water
- Spray your tree with Wilt-Pruf. This spray helps prevent moisture loss. Wilt-Pruf will help your tree
stay fresh a little longer. It is a nontoxic, odorless spray that really makes a difference. Wilt-Pruf is not a fire
retardant, it just helps the tree from drying out as fast.
- Do not put your tree near a fireplace or in front of a furnace vent. Do not put a Christmas tree in the
same room with a fire; even a small fire in the fireplace can dry a tree out fast. Try to keep the tree as cool as
- Always use miniature or LED lights; never C7 or C9 lights.
- Spray your tree with a Fire Retardant. The fire department always recommends this step.
Many gardeners buy a potted spruce or pine tree, use it for their Christmas tree, and then plant it in the
yard after Christmas. As long as you follow a few simple guidelines, you can have a successful experience
with a potted Christmas Tree.
- Do not keep a potted tree in the house more than 10 to 14 days. A tree may start breaking dormancy or start growing when it is kept warm for an extended period of time.
- Water your tree regularly while inside the house and water it thoroughly when you take it back outside. Do not let the rootball dry out.
- Spray your tree with Wilt-Pruf to help prevent moisture loss. Spray the tree again with Wilt-Pruf just before you put it back outside.
- Put your tree in a protected area when you take it back outside. The tree may have started to grow, so it
needs to be acclimated before putting it directly in the cold.
By following these simple guidelines you can have a healthy tree to plant after Christmas.
We have a detailed Christmas Tree Care Guide. Stop by for a copy, or download it from our website.
Amaryllis are one of the popular winter blooming flowers. They are very striking and colorful. Amaryllis bulbs are extremely easy to grow, even for people that normally kill their other houseplants.
Amaryllis bulbs make the perfect gift to help keep your family gardeners busy during the winter. They also make great gifts for friends and neighbors. Amaryllis bulbs are easy to take care of, and you can almost watch them grow. With the proper care, you can have your amaryllis bulb bloom year after year.
Amaryllis are available in many different colors ranging from white to pink to red. 'Red Lion' and 'Orange Souvereign' are two of our most popular varieties, but we also have 12 other varieties to choose from. Amaryllis bulbs are available in different bulb sizes, ranging from 26cm to 40cm size. The number of blossom stems and blossoms will vary with each amaryllis bulb, but you can expect more blossoms with bigger bulbs. One or two blossom stems are common on the small (26cm) size bulbs, while three or four blossom stems are usual on the medium size (34cm) and four or five blossom stems are possible on the larger size (40cm) bulbs. The blossoms will not be any larger on bigger bulbs, you will just have more of them.
Poinsettias are perhaps the most popular houseplants in the United States. Almost everyone has at least one or two poinsettias in their home during the Christmas season.
Unfortunately, most poinsettias get thrown away right after Christmas. Poinsettias will grow and stay pretty through the winter if they are properly cared for. They can also grow and bloom year after year, if you have the patience to take care of them.
An important fact to remember is that the red color you see is not the flower. Poinsettia flowers are actually small, yellow features in the center of the colorful bracts. Poinsettia flowers only bloom for three to four weeks.
The colorful bracts, however, can maintain their color until the beginning of spring, if the plant is properly watered and fertilized--yes, your plants need fertilizer this winter.
When you pick out your Poinsettia this holiday season, be sure to follow these few simple guidelines. You can keep your poinsettia looking great throughout the entire holiday season.
1. Poinsettias need plenty of light. They have been grown in greenhouses under optimum conditions.
Reducing the amount of light they receive makes the plant naturally drop some of its leaves.
2. Poinsettias need plenty of fertilizer. They have been fertilized every few weeks in the greenhouse, so you need to keep it up.
Fertilize your poinsettias every two weeks with Blooming and Rooting Fertilizer while they are in your care.
3. Poinsettias need plenty of water, but they do not like to stay wet all the time.
Give your poinsettia plenty of water; enough to fill the saucer. Let your plant sit in water for 30 minutes then drain any excess water remaining in the saucer. Do not water your poinsettia again until the soil feels dry.
The pretty foil pot cover also acts like a saucer, be sure to drain excess water after 30 minutes. Too much water will kill your plant as quickly as not enough water.
4. Poinsettias do not like drafts; neither hot nor cold. Keep poinsettias away from doorways, and away from furnace vents. Protect your plants as you transport them from the store to your home.
The paperwhite narcissus is a popular bulb for indoor forcing during the winter months. Unlike most other
daffodils, paperwhites do not require a cold period.
They are simply planted in pots with soil, or even more
commonly, in dishes or bowls with gravel, marbles or other decorative material. With a little water they rapidly
form roots, grow leaves and shoots.
The white, fragrant flowers usually open up within 3-6 weeks after planting.
Planting in Gravel & Water: The bowl needs to be able to hold water and be at least 5" to 6" deep. Put a
3" layer of gravel in a decorative bowl.
Arrange the bulbs and completely fill the remainder of the bowl with
gravel. The gravel may be any size or color.
Be sure to completely cover the bulbs with gravel to prevent the
bulbs from tipping. Add enough water to only touch the base of the bulbs. Do not let the bulbs sit in water.
Check the water level often - too little will dry the roots, and too much will invite decay. A little charcoal mixed
with the gravel will help keep the water fresh.
Keep the pot cool (50° to 55°) and in the dark until top growth
begins. When shoots are about 2" tall, bring the pots into the light to develop flower stalks. Tall plants will need
support. Bright light and cool temperatures (60° to 70°) will help keep the paperwhites compact.
A common problem with paperwhites is that they often grow too tall and flop over. Recent research conducted
by the Flowerbulb Research Program at Cornell University has found a simple and effective way to
reduce the stem and leaf growth of paperwhites.
The "secret" is using dilute solutions of alcohol. When properly
used, the result will be paperwhites that are 1/3 to 1/2 shorter. The flower size will be the same, and they will
last as long as normal. For more information please download a copy of our Forcing Paperwhites Handout from
Do you remember what you learned about plants in your high school biology class? The part where you
learned that all plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen?
Besides absorbing carbon dioxide, many houseplants can also absorb other chemicals that are common
inside houses. Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Trichloroethylene are three of the most common chemicals found
inside our houses. These chemicals, if present, are usually only found in very small quantities.
They may not
even be detectable in most homes, especially during the summer months when the windows and doors are open.
Winter, when the doors and windows are kept closed, is the most likely time these chemicals may build up in
the air. Many houseplants can absorb these chemicals and eliminate them.
Formaldehyde may be found in particle board, plywood, insulation, paper products (paper bags, paper
towels, tissue paper), and in permanent press fabrics. Benzene may be found in inks, paints, oils, plastics, rubber
products, dyes, pesticides, detergents, pharmaceutical products, and in gasoline. Trichloroethylene may be
found in inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and in adhesives.
Some of the most popular houseplants are excellent air fresheners. Poinsettias can help remove formaldehyde.
Chrysanthemums can remove benzene.
Spider plants, philodendrons, aloe vera, and dieffenbachia can all
remove formaldehyde. English ivy, pothos, and dracena can remove trichloroethylene
It's hard to imagine that something as simple as a houseplant can keep your home a little healthier; but it
can. Of course, houseplants by themselves can't make your home completely chemical free, but they can make a
The more plants you have in the home, the cleaner the air will be. The longer you keep your plants
inside your house, the more effective they will become.
No matter where you live you can breathe a little easier
when you surround yourself with Mother Nature's Natural Air Fresheners - Houseplants.
Some people talk to their plants. Other people sing to their plants. Some people think their plants will
cringe if they are scolded.
While there is no evidence that houseplants actually respond to these types of stimulation,
houseplants will try to communicate with you and tell you if they are not feeling well. The leaves may
droop, spots may appear, growth may stop.
One symptom may mean the plant is not getting enough light. Another
symptom may mean the plant is getting too much water.
A third symptom may mean an insect or disease is
bothering the plant. A quick, accurate diagnosis is half the battle in controlling the problem before it gets out of
hand or spreads to surrounding plants. After the diagnosis, cure the problem, don't just try to fix the symptoms.
The biggest problem we see with houseplants is that people tend to "kill their plants with kindness," or they
"baby their plants to death."
Plants do not grow as fast during the winter, so it is very easy to give them too much
water or too much fertilizer.
A general rule of thumb is to reduce the fertilizer by half and the water by a third
during the winter. Each house is a little different because of light and room temperature. Too much water is the
number one cause of death in houseplants. A moisture meter might be just the thing you need to help you determine
just how much water is right for each plant.
Plants that do not lose their leaves in the winter (evergreens) need more winter protection than deciduous
plants (plants that drop their leaves). Junipers and pine trees may suffer during long, warm dry periods but they
are fairly tolerant of cold and drought.
Broad-leaved evergreens (rhododendron, boxwood, laurel, Oregon
grape, etc.) are affected both by extreme temperatures and by moisture loss, because of their large leaf surface.
When the sun shines on a plant's leaf, the temperature can get as high as 70 degrees, yet the root system remains
As water evaporates from the leaf, no water is able to replace it. The leaves then 'freeze dry'. If enough
leaves die, the entire plant could also die. There are several things you can do to prevent this type of winter damage.
(1) Don't let the soil dry out. Water your plants occasionally during the fall. Don't keep your plants wet,
just keep the soil moist. A plant that freezes with moist soil will be much healthier than a plant that freezes in
dry soil conditions.
(2) Put mulch around the base of your plants to help insulate the soil from hard freezes. Mulch also
helps keep moisture in the soil.
Wait until the ground freezes to mulch plants with Soil Pep, leaves, or with
compost. You want the ground to actually freeze lightly, to help the plants become dormant, before you cover the
ground with mulch. Do not use grass clippings, because they may cause a disease problem.
Apply one or two
inches of mulch around hardy plants and up to six to eight inches of mulch around your tender plants. Newly
planted shrubs need more winter protection than your older shrubs.
(3) Spray your plants with Wilt-Pruf. Wilt Pruf is an anti-desiccant; it seals moisture inside the plants
and it stops evaporation from the leaves. Wilt-Pruf is not poisonous and will not harm animals. Spray Wilt Pruf
when the temperature is above 40 degrees and will stay above freezing until the spray dries, usually one to two
hours. Wilt Pruf is good to use on all plants, especially on 'Broad-leaved Evergreens' and all newly planted
shrubs. Wilt-Pruf is also great to spray on your Christmas trees to prevent them from drying out so fast inside the
(4) If you need to cover your tender plants, cover them with burlap or with a bed sheet.Do not cover
plants with plastic. Black plastic absorbs the heat while clear plastic traps the heat. Excessive heat variations
during the winter are often fatal to the less hardy plants you are trying to protect.
Just because winter has arrived doesn't mean you have completely finished gardening for the year. You probably still have one or two projects left before the ground freezes or before you put your lawn mower away for the year. Listed below are my Top 10 Outdoor Garden Projects to prepare for Winter.
- Clean all debris from your pond. Do not feed fish once the water temperature reaches 50 degrees.
- Fertilize your lawn if you didn't fertilize it in September or October. Fertilize just before it snows.
- Remove all your dead flower and vegetable plants. Do not let them stay in the gardens through the winter.
- Watch the weather. Water outdoor plants occasionally during the winter if Mother Nature does not do it for you. Container plants are especially
prone to winter dehydration.
- Add as much Bumper Crop or Compost to your gardens as practical, and roto till the garden if the ground is not soggy.
- Mow your grass shorter for the winter.
- Rake the leaves off your lawn and put them in a compost pile, or in the garden. Add a little extra nitrogen for composting.
- Wait to trim roses and raspberries until after they freeze.
- Tie up shrubs to prevent snow damage. Protect your tender plants for the winter. Add mulch, or spray with Wilt Pruf
- Buy a new houseplant to enjoy this winter. Remember to water and fertilize houseplants properly during the winter, many houseplants die from too much TLC, not from neglect.
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
Step by Step:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter together.
- Add egg and vanilla and maple extracts and mix well.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and spices. Gradually add to butter and sugar mixture.
- Drop into small balls onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Decorate with sanding sugar or festive sprinkles.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies