Holidays and horticulture go hand in hand

Thanksgiving is past, the fall color is almost gone and our attention has turned to the Christmas season.  Horticulture plays a significant role in our celebrations of this special day and the experience of the whole season.  Many decorate their evergreens and yards with lights, ribbons, bows, and other seasonal decorations.  We hang wreaths, garlands and ropes of evergreens to decorate our doors, mantels and homes.  We celebrate with poinsettias and Christmas trees in key or starring roles for our holiday celebrations.

                Christmas trees have played an important role in our celebrations for centuries as the early Europeans started the custom of bringing evergreen boughs and trees into their homes after everything outdoors had frozen and turned brown except for these evergreens.  The evergreens brought life, pleasant scents and energy into the celebration and evolved with the customs of gift giving and Santa Claus.  Today many use fake or artificial trees to simulate this excitement.  If you want the real thing,  select a tree from Oklahoma Christmas tree farms or trees shipped from Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin.  With the interest in sustainability, living Christmas trees (container grown or balled and burlapped) from better nurseries are growing in popularity.  After Christmas, they can be planted outdoors and added to the landscape in your yard, at a local school or neighborhood park.  Don’t forget to keep the living tree watered while in the house so it will not get too dry and dehydrated.  The longer a live tree is in the house at warm, dry conditions the more it may stress the tree and adversely affect its success when planted outside.  On cut trees make sure that you use a good tree stand, make a fresh cut on the base of the trunk. Keep the water filled in the stand to keep the tree fresh as long as possible.  There are additives like polymer gels and preservatives you can add to extend the life of the tree and to keep the needles fresh.  On both living and cut live trees it is a good idea to mist or spritz the foliage with an atomizer or mist bottle. 

                Poinsettias were discovered in Mexico by our U.S. Ambassador, Joel Poinsett, back in the 1800’s.  He sent the first plants back to botanist friends in the U.S. and soon these beautiful bracts of brilliant red poinsettias came to be known as the Christmas flower.  Breeders have taken those early poinsettias and bred varieties that stay showy for months, are naturally short, for use on tabletops, desks and counters.  They have developed all different tones of red, white, pink and marbled bracts to add excitement to our Christmas holiday festivities.  Poinsettias like to be warm and watered anytime the soil starts to feel dry.  Enjoy the beauty and excitement of this Holy Christmas season.

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