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JenREES 12/23/22

Hope you have a blessed Christmas and wishing you joy, peace, and hope this Christmas season! A reminder for holiday food safety tips, please check out: https://food.unl.edu/article/holiday-food-safety-tips. This week going to share some info. on a number of Christmas-related plant topics that were written by Extension Horticultural Educator Kelly Feehan.

Live Christmas Trees: Just a reminder to daily check live Christmas trees for their watering needs to avoid a fire hazard. Kelly shares, “The rule-of-thumb is a tree will use one quart of water per day for every inch of trunk diameter near the base. If you have a tree with a 3-inch base, it can use 3 quarts of water per day. The trunk should have been freshly cut at a slant just prior to putting it in the stand. If the stand is empty for more than six to eight hours, the tree’s pores plug up again. Water uptake is much reduced and the tree dries out sooner. If a tree stand dries out for half a day or more, the only thing that can be done is to remove the tree from the stand and recut the base; which is not a fun task with the lights and ornaments. When watering, nothing needs to be added to water in the tree stand to promote freshness.”

Christmas Cactus: Kelly shares, “to keep Christmas cactus blooming as long as possible, place it in bright but indirect light. Too much sun can cause leaves to turn yellow. Keep soil or potting mix constantly moist but not waterlogged. Even though they are cactus, they are jungle natives and prefer just moist conditions with indirect light. Avoid fertilizing Christmas cactus during the winter; but do fertilize every other week from spring through fall. Plants seem to flower best if they are a little pot bound; but if roots become over-crowded in the container, blooming will decrease. If you haven’t repotted in several years, or you notice a decrease in flowering from the previous year, repot the plant into a slightly larger pot, but wait until spring. If possible, move the plants outside for summer. Keep in a shady area as Christmas cactus will not tolerate full sun.”

Poinsettias: Kelly also shares, “It’s Poinsettia time. Hard to believe these bright, colorful plants originated from a weed. And amazing what plant breeding and good marketing can do. To enjoy your Poinsettia as long as possible, place them in an area with bright sun for at least half the day. If possible, provide a night temperatures in the 50’s or 60’s. This is often the most challenging condition to meet in the home, but keep plants as cool as possible at night. If plants are near a window, don’t let the leaves touch cold window panes; and keep Poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts.  Poinsettias need to be well-watered. Because they are in a light weight soil-less mix, they will dry out quickly. Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering; then water thoroughly until water runs out of drainage holes. Be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions or at least pour excess water out of the foil after each watering.”

Amaryllis: Finally Kelly shares, “Amaryllis is a popular holiday plant. It is easy to grow and blooms well indoors with large, colorful blossoms. For these reasons, the National Garden Bureau has named 2023 as the Year of the Amaryllis. The plant we call Amaryllis and enjoy during winter is actually Hippeastrum. It is a member of the Amaryllidaceae genus and this is likely why it is called Amaryllis. If you received an Amaryllis bulb as a gift, plant it in a container that has drainage holes and is one to two inches larger than the bulb. Use a well-drained potting mix and plant so the top one-third of the bulb remains above the soil. Water to moisten the potting mix but then wait for signs of growth before watering much. Once growth begins, keep the soil barely moist. After a flower stalk forms, the soil can be kept uniformly moist but avoid overwatering. Amaryllis need very bright light for blooming. Place them in or near a south window.”


God continues to paint such beauty in the midst of this deep cold! So fitting as a reminder to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the true reason for this Christmas season!
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