Christmas Trees, Wreaths, Paperwhites
By: Mike Darcy
When buying a cut tree at a lot, keep in mind that the tree has probably been cut for several weeks and it could even be several months. When the tree is cut, it is a natural response for it to seal off the cut in order to conserve moisture. Since the butt end is sealed, it can only absorb a small amount of water, if any.
This is the reason it is so important to make a fresh cut of about an inch from the butt of the tree just before the tree is going to be taken indoors. Once this cut has been made, the tree should be placed in a bucket of fresh water or placed in the tree stand with fresh water. You may be amazed at how much water the tree will absorb especially during the first few days. Research that I have seen indicates that there is no need to add a preservative, fresh water works just fine. Check the water reservoir in the tree stand several times a day and refill as necessary. If the water level goes below the butt end of the tree, it will begin to seal itself up and this will prevent uptake of water. It is also a good idea to place your tree where it will not be getting warm air from a heater vent.
Living Christmas Tree
Wreaths from the Garden
Paperwhite narcissus bulbs are very easy to force into bloom indoors. They will often bloom within 3-4 weeks of planting. All that is needed are healthy bulbs and some kind of dish or pot with no drainage. A traditional method is to put in a layer of gravel (many types available at garden centers especially for this purpose), place bulbs on top and bring water level just beneath the bulb. Place container by a window and keep water level constant.
One of the major drawbacks with forcing paperwhites is that they get tall and flop over. Some research from Cornell University indicates that by adding some ethyl alcohol will stunt the growth but you will still get the flowers. About a 5% (no stronger or it may burn plants) solution of ethyl alcohol is required, and so from a 40% distilled spirit such as gin, vodka, rum, etc, you would 1 part of the spirit and 7 parts of water. For this to work, add plain water as normal for the first week and then begin using the alcohol/water solution. Continue using this solution until the plants begin to bloom.
If you do not want to use ethyl alcohol you have for drinking, rubbing alcohol also works. It is about 70% alcohol so 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10-11 parts water would be appropriate. Do not use beer or wine as the sugars in them can cause some problems with plants. I tried this last year and it worked!
Enjoy the season!
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