Wednesday, December 11

Garden Pic Wednesday: Decorating with Christmas Greenery

Christmas Greetings!
I spent many years as a floral designer, so today I'm 
doing a couple of quick decorating tips for Christmas greenery and Poinsettias.

First: Vasing Christmas Greens For The Table
We buy a fresh tree yearly, which means a few branch trimmings.
What I like to do is snip off the smaller branches on a branch of Frazier fir, strip each stem of needles that will be under water, then arrange them arrange them in a vase for my table. It makes a pretty, long lasting arrangement that I can flowers to or just enjoy along. Plus it smells nice.
About once a week the stems will need a fresh snip and fresh warm tap water.
I recommend a solid vase, rather then a clear one, so stems won't be visible. 

Even if you don't have a real tree, many fresh tree lots will let you help yourself to their pile of trimmings for free--but you should ask. Fund raising tree sellers tend to me more charitable about their trimmings then for-profit lots, which may charge $5 to $15 dollars.

Or you can snip trimmings from evergreens in your own landscape for a vase. Juniper, holly, cedar---whatever evergreen you have around. Gardenia greenery looks great in a vase, too. 
Locally we have these wild shrubby trees that are covered with red berries this time of year that I've cut and used before, but they're quite thorny and unpleasant to handle. Though they look very Christmasy out in the woods!
When I was a kid, I bent a hanger into a circle shape, then used twists to secure wild cedar tree branches around it that we cut from one that grew on our property. It made a nice smelling wreath. A little prickly to handle, though.

Cutting Poinsettias for the Vase:
Poinsettias actually perform wonderfully in a vase, though they need special treatment to stop the milky sap flow they have, which will keep them from being able to absorb water.
Sometimes stems break-off a potted Poinsettia and you can use those or, for a special occasion, you could just buy a suitable plant and cut off all the blossoms for a vase arrangement. 
(You just throw those plants out anyway once they're done right? Why not just vase them?)
To prep a Poinsettia for vase you'll need either a box of matches and a candle or a lighter.
I like to just light a candle so my hands are free. 
You need a flame to cauterize everywhere a leaf has been removed or a stem cut where the milky sap is leaking.
 This stops the sap flow, so the stem can then absorb water in the vase.
1) Cut the stem at a 45 degree angle and only remove leaves that will below the rim of the vase in the water.
2) Lightly cauterize each bleeding spot where a leaf was and the bottom of stem by brushing it through the flame just enough to stop the sap flow, but not enough to blacken it.
3) Fill a vase with very warm tap water and arrange your cauterized stems in it.
4) And if your Poinsettias show signs of wilting, just re-cut the stems 1/2 inch, re-cauterize, and put in fresh warm tap water in your vase. They'll perk right back up. 
5) They'll last as long as the tiny yellow flowers in their centers are blooming and maybe a tad longer, but generally they're done once the center flowers are. 
You'll be amazed how long they'll last if you care for them well.
You can also arrange Xmas greenery in the vase with your Poinsettias, add other flowers or just enjoy the Poinsettias alone.
To me, putting them in a vase is their best use.

As a potted plant, I consider Poinsettias fairly tempermental, since it's more a tropical plant.
They'll wilt/die if you water them too much or not enough.
They'll wilt/die if your home is too hot or too cold or if you put them too close to a heat vent or a cold draft.
Like Goldilocks, potted Poinsettias need everything "Just Right."
Come back tomorrow for Mama Kat!

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