By Emily Williams
The cornucopias and pumpkins are put away and it’s time to welcome the Christmas season.
Poinsettias, greenery fit for garlands and winter-blooming flowers are stocked in garden centers throughout the area, ready for homeowners to deck their halls.
Wynne O’Rourke, merchandising manager for Collier’s Nursery located on Old Rocky Ridge Road, shared her tips for decorating to celebrate the holidays and for keeping the look, and the plants, fresh throughout the season.
Greenery is a good starting point for any homeowner, O’Rourke said.
“Whether it’s an elegant wreath on the front door or garland draped along a stairway railing, there’s just something extra special about bringing freshly cut, fragrant greenery into the home for the holidays,” she said.
But cut greenery has a tendency to dry out. One tip O’Rourke shared for keeping it fresh is to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and vents.
She also suggested spraying pieces with Crowning Glory, a clear liquid that helps greenery hold moisture and stay fresh throughout the holiday season.
Outside, instead of tossing a blanket of lights over bushes in the front yard, try conifers as a festive alternative.
“These ‘living Christmas trees’ can be grown in large containers for a year or two, and then planted in the landscape where they’ll mature to their full size,” O’Rourke said.
She suggests starting out by planting young conifers in outdoor pots and stringing them with lights.
In need of breaking up the sea of greenery? Pansies and violas are great cold-tolerant plants for this area.
“Their colorful blooms, along with your seasonal decorations, will create a cheerful welcome for guests.” O’Rourke said.
Taking the blooms indoors, red poinsettias are a classic, she said. Pair them with dark green leafy plants and white hydrangeas.
“Cyclamen is another one of our favorite winter blooms,” she said. “Their cute, dainty flowers, in white, red and shades of pink emerge throughout the holidays and beyond, lasting well into January and February.”
For all indoor blooms, take care not to water them too much or two little if you want to keep them fresh through Christmas, O’Rourke said.
“In general, it’s best to water thoroughly, saturating the soil, and then allow the soil to become dry to the touch before watering again,” she said.
She also suggested checking to make sure any excess water is drained from poinsettia containers, which often don’t have drainage holes.
A final favorite at Colliers are paperwhites, which bloom in clusters of snow white flowers
“We have ‘super’ paperwhite bulbs this year – a larger bulb that produces short stems that don’t flop and more flowers per bulb. They also have a milder fragrance. Older varieties were fragrant to the point of being intolerable to some folks,” she said.
But if you like the scent, O’Rourke said, the sweet fragrance of paperwhites is a great way to bring in a touch of springtime to break up the strong spiced scents of winter.