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Indoor holiday plants & edible Christmas trees

Poinsettias, Rosemary trees and Ivy can all be beautiful decorations for the holiday season. Kevin from McCoard's Garden Center in Provo shares a few tips to keep yours in tip top shape until the new year.

The Christmas Flower: Poinsettia
• There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today.
• Once poinsettias have changed color, they require abundant light during the day for the brightest tints.
• Poinsettias are not frost-tolerant. They will grow outdoors in temperate coastal climates, such as Southern California or Florida beach communities. For other zones, they must be grown inside.
• Poinsettias are not toxic and have a terrible flavor. However, it is best to keep dogs and cats away from these plants as poinsettias have been shown to cause stomach irritation in pets.

Caring for Poinsettias
• After you have made your poinsettia selection, make sure it is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can damage the bracts and leaves.
• Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place in indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal. Keep the plant from touching cold windows.
• Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers or open doors and windows.
• Ideally poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F. High temperatures will shorten the plant`s life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible.
• Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess water.
• Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom.
• With good care, a poinsettia will last 6-8 weeks or longer in your home.

Rosemary Christmas Trees
Rosemary Christmas trees are a great addition to any kitchen during the holiday season. Their fragrance and appearance alone are worth the effort of upkeep. In addition, fresh herbs added to the cooking of a Christmas turkey instill pleasant, savory memories in the minds of all who sit at the Christmas feast! Remember the following when caring for your living, kitchen Christmas tree:
• Purchase ASAP and WRAP: Purchase rosemary trees as soon as they appear on nursery/retail shelves. No matter what the weather, but especially if it is cold, have the store wrap your rosemary in a bag so it does not get a shock when going from the store to your vehicle. Also, go directly home and don't allow the rosemary to sit in fluctuating temperatures while you shop.
• Unwrap and Water: Once you get your rosemary topiary home, remove the wrapping and check the condition of the soil and roots. If needed, re-pot accordingly. If nothing else, your topiary will probably be dry. Place the potted plant in water and allow it to absorb water for an hour or so. This will ensure that it doesn't get too much and will keep spots from forming on the rosemary itself from the minerals that are in the water.
• Light, Watering and Pruning: Care for your rosemary like any other houseplant that needs plenty of light. We find that they do best under a grow light or in a south facing window. The perfect shape should last throughout the holiday season, but after that, you will have to trim back to your preferred shape as it starts to grow out a bit.

Ivy the Forgotten
Christmas Plant
Ivy has long been used in Christmas wreaths and other decorations, though since the mid-twentieth century it seems to have increasingly fallen from fashion in favor of holly and mistletoe. Yet in times past, when decorations were picked from the hedgerow and made from scratch, in areas where holly was rare, ivy was used as a substitute, its chocolate-brown berries often painted red to mimic the more popular tree. Ivy symbolizes eternal life, rebirth and the spring season.
Today, ivy is making a comeback in the celebration of modern Christmas. Ivy is often used in the creation of Christmas wreaths, boughs, garlands and other trimmings. Use ivy to brighten your Christmas table decorations and add to the hope of the season. Ivy is easily cared for and a hearty plant that is extremely tolerant. Plenty of indirect light and moist but not overwatered soil are perfect to grow healthy plants.