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Christmas Decorating Your WayMaster Gardener Scoop – December 21, 2016

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By Majo Bates,

Master Gardener

Most people I know just love December and decorating their homes with Christmas décor!  The first thing we always put up is our Christmas tree.  We've had both real and artificial trees! As we age, we prefer the one we can bring down from our attic.  BUT . . .

Let's look at how to get the most from your real tree:

1.  Purchase a stand that can hold a gallon of water!  This feature could mean life or death to your tree.  Water capacity is a must.  It may also keep you from having a devastating fire.

2.  You might think it obvious, but many of us forget; measure your space for height (including stand and topper) and width.  Take your measuring tape with you when you tree shop.  In measuring for width, keep in mind the distance from heat sources and vents. Also keep in mind where foot traffic will be. 

3.  When bringing your real tree home, please load it stump forward.  You can prevent wind damage on the drive home by wrapping it in a tarp if it is not already baled. 

4.  The tree's needles should be green and flex when you bend them.  Run a branch through your fingers, it should not shed many needles.  In addition, you want that fresh-tree aroma.  Some tree farms provide a machine shaker which gets rid of dead needles, SPIDERS and other pests.  I sure don't want to bring in a bunch of spiders!

5.  In big cities, you can rent a real tree; order it on-line, and they will deliver and set it up.  Then they will come get it and take it down.  OH MY!

NOW for the artificial trees:

1.  We really like our artificial tree.  It is not as messy or dangerous.  If you fear a fake look and no smell, this might be the year to reconsider.  These trees look so real anymore, and you can purchase tree scent to plug in which I buy that really smells like the real trees. 

2.  If you put as many ornaments on as I do, you will want to make sure the branches are strong and that you use a high-quality strong tree stand.  Some have locking wheels, some have a foot pedal to tighten the tree in, many have removable legs and clamps to secure your tree, and I understand the newest have steel claws that hold the trunk in.

3. If you like fast and uniform, you might want to go pre-lit for tidy, tangle-free lights. Tip count equals fullness, and on many pre-lit trees today they are just beautifully attached.  Trees with longer needles don't seem to require as many tips to appear full. 

4.  Don't forget, today you can purchase a tree that is slim to fit in tight places, as well as corner trees and tree curtains that light up with a picture of a tree on it.  Wow!

5.  Over the years if you are frugal, these trees can save you a lot of cash.  Just keep in mind that quality and a strong warranty equals greater lifespan and long-term savings.

After putting up our tree, I enjoy getting out our old décor and arranging it throughout our home.

Keep in mind when purchasing Christmas flowers: 

1.  I think I have to have at least one Amaryllis every year.  I like one that will grow tall and graceful.  I prefer solid, bold RED.  Mine has been growing for a few weeks and is just starting to blossom.  It will be beautiful for Christmas.

2.  I don't have to purchase Christmas cactus as I already have two, and they bloomed right at Thanksgiving when the kids were here.  I do usually purchase a few as gifts.  They make lovely gifts as they are usually lush with flowers that hang down like lovely Christmas ornaments from the ends of the leaves of the plant. 

3.  I like to decorate with Holly even though it is not typically sold as a live plant at Christmas.  I have a plant outside, and I like to bring some of the leaves in along with their red berries.  They are so lovely.

4.  I think the most recognized flower for Christmas is the Poinsettia which was originally bright red with green leaves (the 'flowers' are actually leaves on the plant).  They grow naturally in a large range of colors from white to pink to red with solid or speckled leaves.  Many sellers now dye or paint them many other colors and may even add sparkles.  At Christmas I really prefer the RED and one pinkish, white one to balance things out.


Note from Extension – Many folks share over the years how much they enjoy the Master Gardener Scoop articles. If you want to be part of a garden group where you have the opportunity to learn together or you know someone who does, consider giving the ‘gift of knowledge.’ Master Gardener training starts in January and makes a great gift for a friend. Call 526-4551 for details.

May the peace and blessings of Christmas be yours, and may the coming year be filled with happiness.

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Christmas Decorating Your Way