By Ken Morgan
Try to keep your holiday cactus in the coolest possible room.
This will help delay the opening of the buds until Christmas.
Always feed your plant with Super Bloom when watering while the plant is flowering.
• Keep leaves raked-up on your lawn and landscape areas. Allowing them to remain creates an environment for over-wintering insects and diseases. Whenever possible, compost the leaves for use next spring.
• Buy your Cut Christmas tree now. Balsam, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, and Douglas Fir trees are the best choice because they absorb water more freely, making them the safest indoor cut tree.
• Before you purchase a cut tree, try to break off a small branch with your fingers. If it snaps, off consider it dead. If it does not snap off, cut off a small piece and see if it is green or white, which means the tree is still alive and a good Christmas tree.
• Consider spraying your cut or balled tree, fresh evergreen wreaths and greens with Wilt-Pruf. This will help it to retain moisture in the needles throughout the holidays and prevent premature needle drop. It can also be used outdoors to keep not only cut greens fresh, but will protect evergreen plants as well. Winter winds tend to dehydrate evergreen leaves on hollies, camellias, azaleas, rhododendron, mahonia and other broadleaf evergreens. One application of Wilt-Pruf will protect these plants all winter long.
• Fireproof your tree by using the following homemade recipe: in a four-gallon bucket add two gallons of hot water, one pint Karo white corn syrup, four ounces of liquid chlorine bleach, two teaspoon of 20 mule team borax, two ounces of vinegar and two ounces of Wilt-Pruf. Cut one to two inches off the bottom of the tree and place the tree stump into the mixture, leaving it in the mixture for five days. Remember to prevent the solution from freezing. The tree will remain flame retardant and will stay that way as long as you keep the tree in the same mixture.
• If you plan on buying a live B&B Christmas tree, remember these easy steps. First, bring the tree into a garage or shed for a few days to help it acclimate from being out in the cold to the indoor environment. Once in the home keep away from all heat registers, and fireplaces. Put in a container and put ice on top of the root ball. This will allow the tree to remain moist without rotting the roots. Do not allow the root ball to completely dry out. When you are ready to remove the tree from indoors simply reverse the procedure.
• As a reminder, store all your chemicals, tools and unused seed for the winter. Remember to make sure chemicals are protected from freezing. All garden hand tools should be cleaned and sanitized with alcohol, and all unused seeds should be stored in air-tight containers in the refrigerator.
• Never display a fresh green wreath in between the storm and front doors. The intensity of the sun will bake the wreath and turn it brown.
• Remember to check the water in the stand of your cut tree daily. Allowing it to dry out just one time will cause it to Aheal over which means that it will stop drinking. If possible, use a tree preservative to keep the needles fresh and also prevent premature needle dropping.
• There is still time to transplant plants and divide perennials. The unseasonable temperatures have allowed the ground temperatures to remain high and we have had an abundance of moisture. This combination will insure that your labor will be successful!
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)