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  • Barbara Monico Paulsen

The Garden Club in December

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Welcome to the New Year! The Fairfield Harbour Garden Club, following a busy December 2022, has some exciting events planned for 2023.


During late November and early December, the Garden Club was involved in numerous holiday activities. The season started when the group got together to "roll pinecones" in preparation for the Christmas Parade. "Pinecone Rolling" involved rolling pinecones in melted peanut butter and then in bird seed, making fun bird feeders. These were then handed out at the Christmas Parade. Kathy Fuller once again did an excellent job organizing this activity.





The FH Garden Club elves decorated the beautiful Christmas Tree in the Community Center. The tree is an annual addition to the holiday decorations around Fairfield Harbour. Thank you, Jane Haeussler, for another beautiful Christmas Tree.



The Garden Club participated in the annual Fairfield Harbour Christmas parade. The group always enjoys this activity, organized by Sandy Riggs.


The Garden Club will meet again on January 9, 2023, at 9:30 am in the FH Community Center. The speakers will be the owners of North Carolina Landscapes (www.NorthCarolinaLandscapes.com). (This is a change from the previously announced speaker.) They will share information on "Native Plants."


Looking forward to seeing everyone in the New Year. For more information on the Garden Club and to see information about the latest activities, visit the FH Garden Club Website at https://fhgardenclub.webs.com/



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Many of you may have bought or received traditional Christmas plants and are wondering how to care for them now that the holidays have passed. Fairfield Harbour Garden Club President, Soo Klein, shares some tips on caring for Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus.


Christmas Plants

By Soo Klein


This time of year, certain plants are plentiful and invoke the season's beauty. So, the FHGC thought it might be helpful to discuss the care and expectations of a couple of these varieties. So first up is the Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).


No potted plant typifies the holidays more than a bright red poinsettia.

It just doesn't feel like Christmas without one or two of these cheery, brilliantly colored plants in your home! But as a public service announcement, these plants emit a white milky sap that can irritate mouths and skin if not washed off and may be unpleasant to animals if they eat pieces, so be careful around your fur babies!


Poinsettias are shrubby trees in their native Mexico, and I have seen them over 6ft tall in Hawaii. They typically bloom in the wild in December, making them natural to become a Christmas plants. Although red is the most popular color, it comes in many colors, including speckles or fun shades of pink, green, oranges, yellows, and even plum!


Here are four simple steps to ensure you can enjoy your poinsettia all season long.


1. PICK THE RIGHT PLANT

Remember, the fun colors are technically LEAVES, so look for plants that have tightly closed tiny yellow flowers in the middle of those leaves. Leaves should be greenish. As they open, they turn yellow, which indicates that the plant has been in bloom for a while and may not last long in your home. Avoid any that are shedding pollen – they are past their prime.


2. PROTECT YOUR PLANT ON THE TRIP HOME

Cover your plant when bringing it home, significantly below 40 degrees. Most nurseries will provide a plastic sleeve, but you can cover it with a bag if they do not. Don't let it sit in the chilly car while you run errands.


3. GIVE YOUR PLANT A SUNNY WINDOW

Remember, this plant is tropical, so they love light and will tolerate full sun. They will put up with almost any kind of light. You can put them wherever you like to enjoy a splash of color; however, in a very dark corner, they tend to stretch and become leggy.


4. KEEP YOUR POINSETTIA WELL WATERED

These plants prefer consistent, light moisture. Add a cup or so of water to the soil every two to three days, then feel the pot's weight. The pot's weight is a better indication of when to water the next time. Dump out any water that sits in the saucer or foil cover. The biggest mistake people make is letting them dry out for a day or so. In that case, the plant will begin dropping leaves to try and save its root system. If that happens, there is no going back. Your plant isn't recovering, so compost it and buy a new one!


Christmas cactus or (Schlumbergera bridgesii).

The Christmas cactus is a super popular winter-flowering houseplant that is an excellent addition to nearly any indoor setting. It is easy to care for and easy to propagate! But beware, there are also Easter and Thanksgiving cacti that look deceptively similar.


1. THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT, THE MORE IT WILL BLOOM

This plant will adapt to low light conditions, but the plant will produce blooms more readily if exposed to brighter light. Brighter doesn't mean direct sun; too much direct sunlight can burn leaves. (Yes, plants can get sunburned too!) Bright filtered light is best.


2. MOISTURE IS IMPORTANT

The plant requires frequent and thorough watering during its active growth in spring and summer, keeping the soil slightly moist. Allow Christmas cactus moisture levels to drop and dry out between watering intervals, but never completely, and never let the plant sit in water, as this will lead to root and stem rot. Applying a mild houseplant fertilizer solution every other week is also acceptable.


3. ALSO, CONSIDER TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

The Christmas Cactus prefers temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F, with average to high humidity levels. So even though I try to keep them on my back porch in the warmer seasons, they prefer to avoid our summer heat, just like me! Placing a tray of pebbles filled with water beneath the cactus container is an excellent way to add more humidity to your home.


4. AFTER FLOWERING

Once the cactus has ceased all flowering (usually by fall- yes, next fall), or about 6-8 weeks before you want the plant to rebloom, you should allow the plant to begin its dormancy cycle by cutting back on moisture and reducing both light and temps. After blooming, these plants like shorter days and cooler nights. The plant goes into active growth once it has finished blooming.


5. POSSIBLE ISSUES

If your plant isn't producing blossoms or begins to drop its buds, there could be a few easy fixes. Try providing it with 13 straight hours of nighttime darkness. If there is a sudden drop in temperature, the Christmas cactus may react by withholding blooms or dropping them. Finally, mealy bugs, aphids, and scale are occasional visitors but can be gently wiped away with a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in alcohol.


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