The use of fresh greenery adds a special touch to the holidays, but only as long as the mistletoe and pine branches remain green. Here are a few tips to keeping your décor fresh:
• Before purchasing holiday trees, wreaths and precut evergreen branches, look closely. Branches should be pliable enough to wrap around one finger, and needles should be green.
• When arriving home with a live tree, remove the bottom 2 inches of the trunk (even if you just cut it from the farm), and place the tree in a bucket of water immediately or in a tree stand that holds 1 quart of water per inch diameter of the tree’s trunk. Check the water every day and replenish as long as the tree remains in the home.
• Keep holiday trees, greenery, mistletoe and poinsettias away from registers, radiant heaters, stoves and fireplaces. Cool air will extend the life of the greenery.
• Place sprigs of mistletoe in the refrigerator until needed. After hanging, mist the sprigs daily to keep them fresh.
• When hanging a holiday wreath on the door, place it on the outside of the storm door rather than in-between the storm door and regular exterior door. This space is typically warmer because of the reflective light, and the heat can dry the wreath prematurely.
• Provide drainage for poinsettias. Take the plant out of the foil wrapper, set it in the kitchen sink and add water slowly until a stream runs out the bottom of the container. Wait a few minutes for the excess to drain, and then return the plant to its decorative wrap and a more festive location.
Poinsettias are one piece of holiday greenery that can be used year after year. Simple tips to preserving a poinsettia after the season:
• When poinsettias have finished flowering, cut back stems to 4-6 inches and fertilize.
• Re-pot into a bigger container or transplant to the garden once all danger of freezing temperatures is past.
• During the summer, pinch shoots once a month to encourage branching and fullness.
• Poinsettias must be brought back inside before nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees.
• New flowers are encouraged by the amount of light that the plant receives. Starting in late September, be sure the poinsettia is in the dark a minimum of 12 hours per day. Place the plant in a dark room or throw a blanket over it each night. Flowers take about 60 days to mature.