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How to keep live Christmas trees, poinsettias and Christmas Cactus healthy

Horticulturalist Erica Jo Shaffer has answers

  • Scott LaMar
Christmas tree with warm yellow string lights and white icicles and snowflake shape ornaments. Red packed presents under the tree.

Christmas tree with warm yellow string lights and white icicles and snowflake shape ornaments. Red packed presents under the tree.

Aired; November 28th, 2023.

 

It’s almost December and the plants many people are thinking about are red and green – Christmas trees and poinsettias.

Horticulturist Erica Jo Shaffer was on The Spark Tuesday and said watering a real tree is very important,”It usually takes two or three days for the tree to start drinking and then suddenly it really starts drinking. So you would get your tree, you would shake it, make sure a lot of needles aren’t going off, whatever stand you’ve got. And then it should be in water within an hour or two after they put a fresh cut on. They should take off about an inch and then it’s going to be ready to drink. But then you need to get it in water. Even if you’re not ready to set it up, then stick it in a bucket of water so that that cut is in water. And then follow it  every couple of days or every day (with water).”

What if a family opts for a potted Christmas tree,”Potted Christmas trees are a good idea, especially for people who don’t want to cut one and they don’t want artificial. And if you’ve got the space to plant it afterwards, the trick on that is they are right now going into dormancy and all the plants are. So, if you buy a potted tree and then bring it into your 70 degree house for three weeks or a month, it’s going to wake it back up. And then you’re going to throw it out in 20 degree temperatures and that’s most likely going to kill it. You’re going to want to bring it in only for 3 to 5 days. You don’t even water it before you brought it in and then you don’t water it again until you take it out. It’s a good idea to have the hole dug already because that way if the grounds frozen and your hole is already dug, you could put the the soil that you took out of the hole and take it in the garage so it’s not frozen. Make sure it’s at the right depth. A lot of times the tree is too deep in the root ball too. The trunk stops, the roots start. That needs to be ground level.”

Shaffer said stores and holiday customers make mistakes when it comes to poinsettias, “They’re tropical plants so don’t put your poinsettia near your front door that every time you open (the door) and it gets a cold blast.”

Poinsettia pots are often wrapped in foil and Shaffer said that’s not good for them,”When you water it, that water gets trapped in, and they’ll immediately start to root rot. And then they start wilting because they can’t drink water. And then you give them more water. And totally drown them. So that would be another quick way to kill your poinsettia.”

 

 

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