The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the beauty of both boughs and bouquets. We may be given the gift of a beautiful centerpiece, gorgeous poinsettia or amaryllis bulb. Our porches, doors and mantelpieces may be graced with evergreen wreaths and garlands. All of these require a different method of care to keep them fresh and festive and oftentimes homeowners struggle with falling needles, wilting leaves and a general lack of ‘shelf life’ for these living holiday decorations.
When caring for evergreens that are indoors, the following tips will improve their overall longevity.
· Mist wreaths and garlands with water on a daily basis, wetting both the stems as well as the needles. Use a general household spray bottle for this task and be sure that you are misting the wreath or garland in a location where the water will not cause any damage to walls or furniture. Do not mist when the greenery is exposed to direct sunlight, whenever possible. Another option is to apply an antitranspirant once a week. This is a clear, odorless liquid that dries to a film and slows the loss of water from the needles. Antitranspirants are available through floral supply outlets.
· Keep greens away from direct heat sources such as furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters and very sunny windows. Exposure to additional heat and drafts will speed the drying process and decrease the life of your greenery. If you start to see areas of your wreath or garland that are becoming dry or brittle, consider removing these pieces from the arrangement to keep a fresh appearance.
· Check soil moisture daily. If the soil feels dry to the touch just under the soil surface or the container feels ‘light’ when lifted, add water until some liquid runs out the bottom drainage hole of the pot. If using a saucer to collect excess water, drain the excess so that the poinsettia pot is not kept in standing water. Standing water will cause root injury and stress to the plant.
· Poinsettias prefer to be kept at 65-70 degrees F and like to be put in a sunny location (such as a South, East or West facing window) free from drafts. Do not let the foliage touch the cold glass of the windowpane as damage can occur to the leaves.
· Although poinsettias can be kept and forced to re-bloom, it is a complicated process and may be beyond the scope of most home gardeners.
Happy Holidays from Chelan County Master Gardeners!