Keep Those Holiday Greens Moist

GOOD GARDENING

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Nothing reminds us more of the coming winter holidays than fragrant bundles of evergreen branches festooned with red ribbons, or Christmas trees laden with bright lights and shiny baubles. Nothing is more frightening, however, than the thought of a devastating fire destroying our home.

Fire safety officials warn us not to leave candles unattended, and to make sure trees are well-hydrated throughout the holiday season. Planning, therefore, will extend the life and enjoyment of your Christmas tree.

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John Schultz, employee at Plant Fair Nursery in Star Valley, might be confused with Santa Claus as he stands in a forest of fragrant, cut trees for holiday decorating. Some suppliers of Christmas trees, such as Plant Fair, will cut the bottom inch or two off the trunk of a pine or fir, which allows the tree absorb fresh water or preserving solution. John Schultz uses a small chain saw to cut this 4-inch trunk.

Many families keep their Christmas trees decorated indoors well into the first week of January. A fresh, moist tree kept in a preservative and a fire retardant will extend the life of your tree three to four weeks.

Fire retardant is not synonymous with fireproof. Fire retardant solutions simply slow combustion and maintain hydration, which means you should still handle your tree with the same caution as an untreated tree. Two homemade recipes will help:

  • Tree Preservation Solution: In a bucket, add 16 ounces light corn syrup, 4 ounces household bleach, 2 ounces vinegar, 2 ounces liquid detergent and 1/2 teaspoon borax to 2 gallons very hot water. Stir until dissolved. Cut 2 inches off the bottom of the tree trunk, and immediately place the tree in the solution for two days. If the tree vendor can cut the trunk for you, make sure to get the tree in the solution within the hour
  • Fire Retardant: Dissolve 5 tablespoons borax and 4 tablespoons Epsom salts in 2 quarts very hot water. Mix. Allow to cool, and spray on tree, coating needles thoroughly.

The solutions, which should be applied outdoors or away from furniture and flooring, are also effective on any freshly cut decorative foliage like native juniper, pinion and ponderosa.

When the tree or foliage is ready for indoor display, cut an additional inch or two off the trunk or branch. This enables the plant to continue absorbing water.

To display your tree properly, position in a sturdy stand and fill with water. Check water daily and replenish when level is low. Trees kept in warm, dry rooms will continue to absorb water.

Never, under any circumstances, use candles with live flames as tree decorations. Turn tree lights off when away from home, or before retiring for bed.

Poinsettias, a favorite holiday decoration, are tropical plants and must be displayed indoors at this elevation. Make sure the plant is wrapped in cellophane before leaving the store to protect it from cold. Six hours of bright, indirect light in a cool room away from draft and heat is ideal for prolonging blooms. Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Do not allow the plant to stew in water.

After the holidays, recycle your Christmas tree at the Payson Event Center rodeo grounds where the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation department will have a chipping and shredding operation. The site will be open from Dec. 26 until Jan. 1. After the trees are chipped and shredded, the mulch will be hauled to Rumsey Park, near the entrance to the dog park. Residents are welcome to take mulch from that location for gardens, trees and shrubs. The Buckhead Mesa landfill near Pine will also be recycling trees free of charge.

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