DIY and latest topics
DIY and latest topics
No one will argue with the fact that artificial trees with fiberoptic lights already strung are more convenient, but you don’t get the scent of pine, fir, or spruce and your family tradition may just include a real tree.
When you use a fresh cut real tree, water is the most important element in keeping it happy for the holiday season. When you bring it home, cut a couple inches off the bottom of the stem to create a fresh cut that will open up the pores and allow the tree to absorb water more readily. Put it in the stand and add a minimum of one quart of water or enough to keep the end of the trunk under water.
Check the water daily and add more as needed. If the trunk is not in water, it will seal up the pores and the tree won’t be able to drink. The tree will drink 65% of its water the first week it is in the house. Not only does water keep the branches soft and pliable, but it keeps the tree safer. A dry tree can become engulfed in flames in seconds.
Place your tree in a spot where it can stand out of the way of traffic and away from heat vents. You will want to make sure it doesn’t wobble and the stand is very sturdy.
If your cat or dog finds the ornaments fascinating and won’t stay away from them, try giving them their own small tree decorated with plastic bulbs, treats, and pet toys. A little catnip spray on the toys will keep cats entertained and they may leave your main tree along.
After Christmas, instead of throwing the tree out in the trash, consider cutting it up and storing the wood for next year’s fireplace. Or you could stand it up in the back yard as shelter for the birds. You could also create a bird feeder and haven. After securing it outside, decorate it with orange slices, cranberries, suet, and other bird friendly goodies and put it in a sheltered location.
Fresh cut and living trees are the ones you usually find at the garden center. Living trees come with a root ball wrapped in burlap and can be planted outside after Christmas.
The most frequently requested Christmas trees, as reported by growers across the US, are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, White pine and Balsam fir in that order. Historians agree that the first decorated Christmas tree appeared in the U.S. in the mid 1800s.
Scotch Pine – The Scotch pine’s color ranges from bright greens to blue greens. It has stiff, sturdy branches that will support heavy ornaments and excellent retention of the 1- inch needles. It’s pine scent lasts a long time and it will remain fresh throughout the holiday season.
Douglas Fir – The Douglas fir has soft dark blue green needles about 1-1 ½ inch long. The fir needles are soft to the touch and radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, the needles have a sweet fragrance. The branches are spreading to drooping and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough and dark brown.
White Pine – The White pine, or eastern white pine, can grow to 80 feet or more at maturity with a two to three-foot diameter. The needles are soft, flexible, bluish-green to silver green in color and are regularly arranged in bundles of five. Needles are 2 ½-5 inches long. Bark on the young trunks and branches is smooth and greenish-brown in color.
Balsam Fir – The Balsam fir is frequently copied in artificial trees because of its branch shapes. Branches may be shorter and curved upward to cover the upper sides of the twig. The needles are 1-1 ½ inches long, have a sweet subtle scent, and are dark green. It has a strong fragrance and good needle retention.
Other good choices are Colorado Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce.
Colorado Blue Spruce – The Colorado Blue spruce is a silvery blue color and has a symmetrical form. The needles are 1-1 ½ in long with excellent needle retention. The Colorado Blue spruce works well in small spaces, will last longer than other varieties, and has a pleasant fragrance.
Norway Spruce – The Norway spruce has dark green needles and drooping branches. It has a triangular shape and needles are ½-1 inch long. Will last through the season if kept well-watered, but needle retention is only fair.
Plants grown inside, whether they always live indoors or you bring them in to winter over require certain things to remain healthy and green.
Essentials for Healthy Plants
Light – Place your plants in a sunny, preferably south facing window. Even plants that can’t take direct sun will enjoy the winter light from the south. You might want to put these plants out of direct sun, but still in the light. Keep leaves free of dust so they can absorb the light better.
Water – Plants that live indoors need watering less often. Plants will take up the available water differently, so it’s important to have a water meter to determine when the plants are dry. More houseplants are killed by overwatering than underwatering.
For the first few weeks, measure the water for each plant and make note of how long that much water lasts. Note the date you water and how much, then let your meter tell you when you need to water again. If it is too short a time between waterings, you can try increasing the amount of water until you have a set schedule of 1-3 times a week. You can group plants that need similar water together so you know that those plants all need 1 cup of water or whatever your ideal amount of water is.
Temperature – Most plants will cut back on growth in temperatures below 65 degrees, especially if they are tropical plants. Other plants that you may have brought indoors may be more hardy and can withstand temperatures down to 55 degrees.
Repotting – If some of your plants have outgrown their pots, for example they look crowded, or roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot, you may need to prune them a little and repot them. Succulents don’t usually need repotting. Woody plants can go dormant in winter months and that is a good time to repot them to be ready for new growth in the spring. Use a quality soilless potting mix.
Keeping plants indoors can purify the air in your home; and some plants even remove formaldahyde and other toxic chemicals. Some plants to try are Boston Fern, palms, rubber plants, English Ivy, peace lily, golden pothos, Sansaveria (mother-in-law tongue).
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