Action for December Prepare for Christmas
Care for your Christmas tree
- Delay bringing your new tree indoors for as long as possible as it won’t enjoy the warm, dry conditions.
- Keep it in a cool spot away from fires or radiators to help it last longer and retain its needles.
- If you buy a pot-grown or bare-rooted tree, keep the compost moist.
- If you go for a cut tree, treat it as you would cut flowers. Saw off the bottom few centimetres of the trunk and stand the tree in a container of water, wedging it in place with stones or bricks.
- Keep the water topped up – a 2m tree can drink over half a litre of water a day.
- If you want to plant it outside once the festivities are over, buy a pot-grown tree.
Pick your own festive decorations
Stems of early flowering trees and shrubs can be cut and kept in a bucket of water in a cool, light room – they should flower for Christmas.
Try flowering quince (chaenomeles), wintersweet (chimonanthus), Lonicera fragrantissima, Viburnum x bodnantense and witch hazel.
Shrubs and trees such as rosehips, coloured dogwood stems, flowering mahonia and Christmas box are also ideal for making interesting additions to indoor displays.
The bright red bracts of poinsettias are almost as much a part of Christmas as the time-honoured Christmas tree. What looks like the large red flower petals are actually the bracts – coloured leaves – while the real flowers are the little yellow pips in the centre.
You can now find poinsettias in pink, white, cream or with a marbled effect, as well as in red.
Buying and caring for poinsettias
Never buy a poinsettia from an outdoor market – they hate the cold. Buy your plant from a shop and ask to have it wrapped before you carry it home.
Poinsettias like a light, warm spot, but don’t put them above a radiator. Water them when the compost is relatively dry – over or underwatering will cause the leaves to drop.
Beware of the plant’s milky white sap as it can irritate skin – wash your hands after handling your plant, ensure it’s not within reach of young children, and keep cats away.