Tags Posts tagged with "Evergreen"

Evergreen

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Metro photo

Majestic Christmas trees garner the lion’s share of the decorative fanfare when the holidays arrive. Trees may be the focal points of holiday decor, but the humble wreath adorning the front door is the first decoration guests are likely to see when visiting a home. Wreaths may need some care to maintain their beauty all month long. Here are some tips to help holiday wreaths last as long as possible.

Choose a wreath wisely

When shopping for a wreath, choose freshly cut greenery that you assemble yourself; otherwise, look for wreaths made from freshly cut boughs with their foliage intact. Make sure not too many needles or leaves are falling off. Heavily decorated, preassembled wreaths may be convenient, but ornaments can make it challenging to give the wreath the moisture it needs to survive.

Moisture/water

Metro Photo

Access to moisture will help to keep the wreath fresh. While a Christmas tree trunk may sit inside of a stand filled with water, wreaths require a little ingenuity. According to the wreath and garland retailer Club Botanic, if you will not be hanging a freshly purchased wreath right away, keep it in a plastic liner in a cool, dark place to help it retain moisture. Just make sure you don’t seal that liner closed. Before hanging, lay the wreath in a couple of inches of water for about an hour or up to a day so that the cut stems can soak up water. Once the wreath is hanging on a door or elsewhere, spritz it with water every few days to prevent it from drying out.

Location, location, location

Where you hang the wreath is key to its longevity. Wreaths and garlands hung indoors likely won’t last as long as those hung outside, advises the floral retailer Bouqs.com. Evergreen boughs tend to require a colder climate to thrive, and indoor heat can prematurely zap moisture from the wreath. Using a humidifier indoors or misting the wreath may help. It’s probably best to hang fresh wreaths outdoors, but avoid direct sunlight, which can dry out the greenery. Slightly shaded spots are best. If your front door is bathed in full sun for hours, hang an artificial wreath here instead of a fresh one.

Maintain airflow

Another factor that can affect the wreath’s longevity is an ample flow of oxygen. Wreaths tend to last much longer when kept on an outer door, indicates Harbor Farm in Ellsworth, ME. Wreaths sandwiched between a front door and a storm door will probably perish faster due to lack of oxygen.

Following these tips can help keep fresh wreaths as vibrant as the day they were brought home.

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Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

 

Last week we took a look at some specific plants that can grow in small spaces. Since there are many options, we’ll take a look at a few more this week.

Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Tree hibiscus do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

A wide variety of vegetables can be grown in pots or tubs including string beans, cucumbers (with a trellis) and squash. Remember to replant for a second crop when the plants cease bearing. String beans, for example, can continue to grow well into the fall.

Roses can also be grown in tubs (medium-sized plants) or window boxes (for tiny rose plants). Like herbs, roses need sun; so select a location for your pots, rock garden etc. that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Miniature roses come in a wide variety of colors: ‘Sun Sprinkles’ is a bright yellow, ‘Hot Tamale’ is a gorgeous mix of deep pink and yellow, ‘Cinnamon Girl’ is a burgundy and ‘Innocence’ is the palest shade of pink, almost white.

Remember to check your rose plants for thorns. If the one you select has a lot of them, make sure you locate it where someone won’t trip and hurt themselves. Miniature roses are prone to the same problems that medium and large rose bushes are, namely black spot (a fungal disease) and aphids. So, you need to take the same care that you would if growing a full-sized plant, that is, use a rose spray unless the variety you select specifically says disease resistant. Also, avoid watering the leaves — aim the hose at the soil. Keeping the leaves dry helps to prevent fungal diseases. If you have a deer problem, make sure that the rose bushes are planted where the deer can’t reach them.

Since roses prefer soil that is only slightly acidic (6.5) to neutral (7), growing roses in pots works well from the soil pH since most potting soil is closer to neutral. If you decide to plant your small roses in your garden soil, test it first. If it is very acidic, you need to add lime.

String beans do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
String beans do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

In addition to shrub roses, consider a tree rose — a wide variety of colors are available — which can be grown in a large tub. Tree hibiscus also does well in tubs.

If you have enough space on an open porch, deck or patio, you can grow dwarf evergreen trees. Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea clauca) is a sturdy evergreen that grows well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 8. This dense, slow growing tree prefers full sun and because of its small size fits into small spaces as well as large tubs. Putting a pair on either side of an entrance way gives a formal appearance. You can even decorate with small Christmas lights and ornaments come the holidays. It can be pruned into a topiary if you wish. While the tree can reach 10 feet tall, it’s such a slow grower that it will not usually be a problem for 25 to 30 years.

Squash plants do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Squash plants do well in a planter in full sun. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Dwarf deciduous trees grow well in tubs. Dwarf fruit trees provide flowers in the spring and fruit in summer or fall. ‘Juliet Dwarf Cherry,’ for example, grows just five to eight feet tall, is self-pollinating and does well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 7 (Long Island is zone 7). Because of their small size, it’s easy to prune them and easy to put netting to protect the fruit from hungry birds. Other dwarf trees include dwarf apple, pear and fig. Dwarf lime, lemon and orange can be grown outdoors in summer but must be moved indoors in the colder weather.

Bonsai: If you’re really into gardening as a hobby, consider bonsai, plants deliberately kept miniature by root and branch pruning. Bonsai are grown in small containers, but, a warning, this hobby is for the dedicated gardener as it requires a fair amount of work and knowledge. Deciduous plants such as Japanese red maple make for beautiful bonsai but must also be wintered outdoors, in a protected area, as the bonsai version needs a period of rest just like the full-sized plant.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.