Rhode Island's only Certified Organic Garden Center
Here are some tips to help you keep your Christmas Trees, Poinsettias and Paperwhites looking good throughout the holidays and beyond
Caring for Your
Freshly cut
Christmas Tree

Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.

Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible, ideally within 1-2 hours. Be careful not to bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.

If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.

To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.

Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.

Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree.

Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.

Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.

Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

Go to www.realchristmastrees.org and type in your ZIP code to find a recycling program near you.

*Prepared by Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Eric Hinesley and edited by the Scientific Research Committee of the National Christmas Tree Association

Here are some tips on caring for a Live Tree

Before bringing your tree into the house, it should be stored in an unheated, sheltered area such as a garage or porch, out of the wind and sun. A tree that is dormant and exposed to immediate warmth will start to grow and you want to avoid any quick resumption of growth.

While in your home the root ball or soil should be kept slightly damp but not flooded. Wrap the root ball of a balled tree in plastic or place in a tub while it is in the house. If your tree is in a pot, make sure to protect the floor from any excess moisture.

Leave inside no longer than 7-10 days (some experts suggest only 4 days). Never add nutrients or fertilizers as that may initiate growth which you don't want to occur in a dormant tree.

Live trees may be decorated, but with care, if lights are used, they must not give off any heat.

When the time comes, do not remove the tree directly from a warm house out into freezing temperatures. Instead, move to a sheltered area first for several days.


Forcing "Paperwhite" Narcissus bulbs

Part 1 -- General Aspects and forcing Instructions

"Paperwhite" Narcissus is one of the easiest flower bulbs for homeowners to force. Paperwhites originate in the Mediterranean. They are tender bulbs and can be grown outside only in Climatic Zones 8 to 11. Unless one lives in one of these zones, forced bulbs should be discarded after flowering.

Temperature -- Initially, use a 60 to 65 oF area in the home. When in flower, use the coolest area of the home.

Light -- Paperwhites will flower under any light conditions. However, for best results, initially place them in a window area with a southern exposure. When the plants begin to flower, remove them from direct sun-light and place plants in coolest area of the home. This helps to prolong the flowering of the plants.

Part 2 -- Planting and Watering Instructions for Containers without Drainage Holes

Planting -- Paperwhites can be forced using 3- to 4-inch deep decorative containers that do not have drainage holes. To force the bulbs using this system:

  1. Place 1 to 2 inches of washed gravel or stones in the bottom of the container.
  2. Carefully, place the bulbs on the gravel or stones.
  3. Subsequently, place enough gravel or stones over or around the bulbs to hold them in place.

Watering -- Add just enough water to bring it to base of the bulbs and subsequently, maintain it at this level. Do not immerse the bulbs in water, only the basal (root) plate should be in water.

Part 3 -- Planting and Watering Instructions for Containers with Drainage Holes

Planting--Use a well-drained, pH 6 to 7, sterilized planting medium. Any width pot can be used; it depends on the number of bulbs to be forced. However, use a pot that is 3 to 4 inches deep, and plant the bulbs with the noses even or slightly below the rim of the pot. After planting, water the medium thoroughly. Then, keep moist!

Reference: De Hertogh, A. A. 1996. Holland Bulb Forcer's Guide, 5th ed. International Flower Bulb Centre, Hillegom, The Netherlands .  


How to
keep your poinsettias looking
beautiful

The DO’s and Dont’s of poinsettia care

DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.

DO provide room temperatures between 68-70° F. Generally, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia, don't place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts or the top of a television.

DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. DON’T over water your plant, or allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely.

DON’T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it. DO use a plant sleeve or a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.

DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. DON’T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.

The poinsettia is NOT poisonous

The widespread belief that poinsettias are poisonous is a misconception. Studies conducted by The Ohio State University in cooperation with the Society of American Florists concluded that no toxicity was evident at experimental ingestion levels far exceeding those likely to occur in a home environment. In fact, the POISINDEX Information Service, the primary information resource used by most poison control centers, states that a 50-pound child would have to ingest over 500 poinsettia bracts to surpass experimental doses. Yet even at this high level, no toxicity was demonstrated. As with all ornamental plants, poinsettias are not intended for human or animal consumption, and certain individuals may experience an allergic reaction to poinsettias.In fact, in 1992, the poinsettia was included on the list of houseplants most helpful in removing pollutants from indoor air. So, not only is the poinsettia a safe and beautiful addition to your holiday decor, it can even help keep your indoor air clean!


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