Andy Wilson, Extension Specialist, Pinellas County Extension
Living Christmas Trees- Southern red cedar (Juniperus virginana) and sand pine (Pinus clausa) are two Florida natives that are grown commercially for both cut and potted Christmas trees. Both southern red cedar and sand pine can be planted in the landscape after use and both are drought tolerant once established. The southern red cedar also has good salt tolerance. Want the experience of selecting your own tree to cut on a Christmas tree farm? Check out this listing of Florida Christmas tree farms from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: http://www.florida-agriculture.com/consumers/christmas_trees.htm
Care of Cut Christmas Trees- The single most important thing to do to keep cut Christmas trees fresh is to keep the base of the trunk immersed in water at all times once it is brought into the home. Most research has failed to show any real benefit from additives to the water like corn syrup, bleach, etc. Depending on the size of the water reservoir in the tree stand it will probably be necessary to check the water level at least once a day. The tree’s ability to absorb water is usually improved by making a fresh cut at the bottom of the trunk before placing the tree in the stand.
Care of Potted Poinsettias- If you receive a poinsettia as a gift or buy one as part of your holiday decorating, follow these tips to keep it in good condition throughout the holidays. If the pot is covered with a decorative foil or plastic wrap, punch some holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. A few minutes after watering the plant, pour out any water that has accumulated in the saucer under the pot. Poinsettias can be quickly damaged by waterlogged soil. Locate the plant in an area with bright, indirect light or some filtered sunlight. Dark locations will promote leaf drop. To keep the plants in the best condition, avoid exposing them to temperatures below 65 degrees F. More information on the care and use of poinsettias can be found in the fact sheet “Poinsettias at a Glance” available from our office or here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP349
Gifts for the Gardener-The University of Florida Bookstore has a great variety of books, flashcards, posters and other helpful references for the gardener on your gift list. Check out the selections here: http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/
Among the selections is Growing Orchids: Easier Than You Think!, a DVD with lots of information on selecting and growing orchids: http://www.ifasbooks.ufl.edu/p-60-growing-orchids-easier-than-you-think.aspx