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Holiday Plants

Holiday plants are fun to enjoy but they can continue to live way beyond the holiday spirit. With just a few basics we can bring them along into another season.

Florist's Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)

This is called a florist's cyclamen because it has been grown especially in a greenhouse and forced for the holidays.

This plant can take bright light all day with one to two hours of full sun.

Be sure to water from below, since this is a tuberous plant it can easily become logged. If you must water from above keep out of the center of the plant.

Ideal temperatures are 65F to 50F at night.

When the dormant period starts (March to May) fertilize every two weeks. Dormancy can be coaxed by withholding water. Not an easy plant, but beautifully delicate.


Norfolk Island PineNorfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

This plant is usually grown as a small houseplant that generally out grows its space. However, for the holidays it is sold with little red holiday bows making it a very festive centerpiece.

The Norfolk Island Pine requires bright indirect light. For good color two hours of direct sunlight is best. But other than that try to avoid full sun; in low light it will shed its needles. Indoors rotate the plant to promote symetrical growth. As in all houseplants, avoid drafts.

If indoors, when the soil feels dry, water. Then let the soil go dry again before your next watering.

It can be summered out nicely and will grow in the tropical zones for it is originally from the rainforest of Brazil and seen in New Guinea and Australia.

When repotting it is important to match the pot with the size of the plant. For transplanting use equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and sand or perlite.

Fertilizing can be on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, cutting back during the fall and winter.

Propagating is done by seed, which will take considerably longer than branch tip cutting. When a tip cutting is taken, the branch does not regenerate and will be out of symmetry.


Mistletoe (Philodendron leucapum)

Such a pretty pest for the holidays. This invasive, half-parasitic plant is a native American. Half-parasitic because it is capable of producing its own food but at the same time steals water and nutrients from its hosts. It usually locates itself high in the treetops.

Be careful. All parts of the plant are poisonous: the stems, the leaves, and its berries. Ironic since it is the berries we like to see at the hall kissing ball.

The flowers are really insignificant and are white to yellow in color.

The history of the mistletoe is ancient, dating back to the druids. These Celtic men, used mistletoe in the winter solstice ceremonies.

Different cultures believed different things.

In Japan, mistletoe is chopped and spread on their fields to ensure a better crop. In Australia, a sprig of mistletoe was placed in a couples bed to encourage conception.

However, in recent times, the kissing ball represents friendship and a welcoming goodwill. Just another of those holiday "fads" from England that started in the 18th century.

If you are lucky or unlucky enough to have mistletoe growing on your property, the only effective way of getting rid of the pest is to prune. Yes, the entire limb. However, do not get carried away and over prune, or you will have another set of problems to worry about. In the past, some herbicides have been used but this proves not to be cost effective.


Tree Boughs: Holly/Boxwood/Yew

Remember to use these as "greens" as your last trimmings in the house, for they dry out rather quickly. Use florist oasis for keeping the cut plant material in water and looking fresh. If possible, change them a couple of times for safety and before a party or scheduled event for freshness. The holly berries are toxic and the "greens" are not tasty either.