, Salem, MA


December 6, 2013

North Shore Gardener: Keeping poinsettias and cut greens vibrant


In addition, some of the plants are poisonous, so all houseplants should be kept away from young children and pets who might find them attractive to eat.

A great number of our houseplants are poisonous, especially when eaten. Isn’t it just common sense to keep all plants and holiday decorations that might be dangerous to our children and pets out of reach?

Q: I’m beginning to feel like Christmas. I want to use a lot of simple greens and red velvet bows this year, but the greens always seem to die too fast. We’re having a party later in the month. How soon can I decorate with my fresh greens and still expect them to look great? I want to get my money’s worth out of greens like boxwood and pine and keep them looking fresh.

A: Any cut greens will last longer if they’re soaked before you use them. Don’t have a place large enough to hold your greens to soak them? Don’t want to use the bathtub? Toss them into a plastic garbage bag, add water, and place in a cool place away from the sun. To use, drain well to save your furniture and wallpaper! It is difficult to guess the life of greens, but when they are cared for and the water is changed every few days, they’ll live a week or better.

Buy your tree early — it can be soaking up water outside your house better than on a dry lot with no care.

And if you want to help your Christmas tree last longer, recut the trunk, stand in a bucket of water and hose it down well for a few days — then drain and decorate.

Q: We’ve decided to buy a live tree and then plant it after the holidays. What can I do now, before the weather gets any worse, to get ready? I really don’t relish being out in the yard, planting a tree as the snow is falling, but my daughter thinks it’s the right thing to do. It’s that or an artificial tree. But I love the smell of a real tree, potted or cut — make it simple, please.

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