It takes time to get back in the swing after a Thanksgiving break, so while I’m gathering thoughts and thinking of blog posts, here’s one from my archives. From December, 2007.
This time of year can be stressful on plants, and unless one is careful, the effects go beyond a mere crumpled leaf or broken branch. So, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, a poem to remind us of good care:
Twas a late winter night when all through the house, chaos was brewing ‘twixt foliage and spouse. Many plants woo us with blooms during the holidays, but before you commit to taking one home, check to make sure you have the enough space. Dodging large floor plants or maneuvering past tabletop flora while carrying decorations can lead to stress.
The tree was purchased, dragged home in a net, on the floor a spot cleared for it to be set. Trees should be carefully located in an area out of the way from traffic, avoiding sources of heat, fireplaces or electrical outlets. Before bringing your cut tree inside, take time to empty a spot with plenty of space to allow for set up and trimming.
The cacti were blooming, their bright flowers cheered; on the mantle with evergreens did kalanchoe peer. Cool temperatures are best for prolonging the bloom on flowering plants. If possible, set thermostats at 55 to 60 degrees at night, and 65 to 68 during the day. Choose a location with bright, indirect light – directly in front of an east or west facing window is best – or focus a grow light on them in dimmer locations.
When to my wonder guests did arrive, dragging three children, two dogs and cold drafts inside. Cold door drafts and traffic around branches are a plant’s bane, so take care to ensure that they’re not near entryways. When carrying items in from the car, remember that drafts from open doors can rapidly chill these tropical beauties, and close the door in between trips.
My plants were in peril, trampled leaves had big holes; the poinsettia whooshed by like a slapshot on goal. In general, plants and parties don’t mix well. Happy tails and incautious guests can damage leaves or knock the plant over, leaving it looking the worse for wear after the fete. Enjoy your plant’s flowering display from a safe location, out of the way from harm.
Off by the tree there arose such a clatter, of branches and bows and bells in a scatter. Electricity fizzled, this was not what was planned – we’d forgotten to secure the tree to the stand. The base of the tree should be cut as level as possible, without angles or points, so that it sits firmly in the stand. Place fresh cut trees in a sturdy, stable stand with a ring large enough to encompass the trunk, or use open stands for thicker trunk size. Pick a stand with an adequate water reservoir for the tree.
Water was everywhere, the floor was a mess – the tree dropped its needles as if getting undressed. Pines need water to keep their needles supple and attached to the tree. But the cut end seals off with resin, preventing water from getting to the branches. The longer a tree stays on the lot without water, the more likely it is to drop needles early. Look for fresh trees with a firm grip on their foliage, and preserve your tree by making a new cut one inch from the end of the tree and plunging the end into warm water. Keep the tree in one gallon of water from this point on, without allowing it to dry out.
But the children were safe (though the dogs they barked faster) as we rushed in to fix the yuletide disaster. But let the lesson be learned from this rhyme with a reason – may both people and plants have a safe holiday season.