Season 1 ē Episode 10 - November 29, 2022
Ever wonder why we use holly in our
holiday decorating? What is the story behind kissing
under the mistletoe? Ryan and Judy covered the reasons
why we use specific plants during the holidays.
Christmas trees are a staple in just about every home
during the holiday season. Though there are references
to evergreen trees going back thousands of years,
Egyptians, Romans and Druids in Northern Europe all
brought various cut green boughs and trees inside to
mark the solstice and the light (and life) returning to
the earth, The current traditions were starting to be
established in the late 1400s. The symbol of an
evergreen tree represents rebirth, long life and
strength. This is because it maintains its green color
during the longest and coldest winters. Decorating
became popular with Queen Victoria and started with
fruit and candles. Now we use mass-produced ornaments
and lights. The angel at the top of the tree reminds us
of the good news of Jesusí birth.
Christmas trees are not only festive for bringing green
indoors, they also bring green to local Christmas tree
farms in the form of cash, According to Oregon Christmas
Tree Growers, Oregon grows more Christmas trees than any
other state in the country. It grows 31% of the United
Statesí Christmas trees. There are more than 1,000 farms
that grow the trees. Oregon sold over 4.5 million trees
in 2017. Oregon grown Christmas trees were worth 107
million dollars in 2020. The counties that grow the most
are Benton, Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Yamhill, and Linn.
They are all on the western side of the state, The top
producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan,
Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Christmas trees dry out quickly if you donít water them,
Be sure to give your tree a new, fresh cut after you
purchase it. Then get it into a large reservoir of water
as soon as you can, A 6 foot tree can use up to a gallon
of water or more every day. Make sure that the tree
doesnít run out of water or the trunk will seal up and
then it cannot take in any more water. Use warm water
when you first get your tree in the stand. This will
help loosen any sap and allow the tree to take up water.
Donít use bleach, aspirin, sugar or sugary sodas in the
water. None of these help the tree and some may cause a
bacterial growth in the water.
Wreaths are patterned along the same traditions as
Christmas trees. Their evergreen color represents
rebirth, and new life during the cold winter months. It
was only natural that wreaths were added to the greenery
of the holiday season. Their circular shape also
represents infinity, with no beginning and no end, a
reference to Christianity and everlasting life.
You can buy the traditional wreath at your local garden
center or at your local tree lot. (Side note: if you
live in the Portland, Oregon area, check out the Boy
Scout lot in downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon at George
Rodgers park, where Ryanís troop has a sales lot set up
and you can get wreaths and trees.) Or, you can buy a
dried wreath that you may be able to leave up long after
the holidays are over.
Many wreaths can be treated with an anti-transpirant to
keep it from drying out.
Wilt Stop from Bonide is a great product for that.
Be sure to read the instructions and watch for dropped
needles which will indicate when your wreath needs to be
removed from your home.
Mistletoe has a history as well. It has various meanings
that include fertility, immortality and love. The
ancient druids and Vikings are credited with worshiping
this parasitic plant for its everlasting color and life
during the cold winters. Once again, these meanings are
due to the fact that it stays evergreen in the winter.
Of course the best meaning involved kissing. In proper
English society you could not kiss your spouse-to-be in
public. During the holidays you could kiss under the
mistletoe, but you had to remove a white berry every
time you did. Naturally, twigs with lots of berries were
Mistletoe is toxic and so you should be careful if the
leaves and berries drop off. That may be a sign that you
need to get your kisses in quick and then remove the
dried plant from your home.
Hollyís origins are based on both Christian and
non-Christian traditions. In one tradition, the holly
protects the home from evil spirits per ancient
traditions. In another, the holly represents the crown
of thorns of Christís passion and its berries represent
the drops of blood.
Holly can dry out during the holidays, but it is slower
to reach that dry stage due to its thick waxy leaves. If
you use an anti-transpirant, be careful as it might
change the color of your holly. Remember to read the
Next, the poinsettia. This plant is relatively new to
the holiday tradition list. This plant has a history
dating back to the 16th century. The story is that a
little girl wanted to bring a gift to her church for the
Christ child. She had nothing to give but had a dream of
an angel collecting weeds and leaves by the roadside,
and giving them to the child. When she did it, they
turned into the red blooms that we see today. The flower
was named for Joel Poinsett a U.S. diplomat who fell in
love with them and started promoting them in the U.S.
Paul Ecke, a plant grower and breeder from California,
helped popularize the plant and it has been a holiday
favorite since then.
Here are some tips on how to pick a good plant. First
look for good branching. A single branch plant will not
give you the bunches of blooms that you want. And
speaking of blooms, the bright colors you see are not
the flowers of the poinsettia. The flower is the small
center buds that are usually yellow. The bright colors
are modified leaves. As for the blooms you will want
small tight buds that are not yellow yet, which means
they are early in their bloom cycle. Also look for good
healthy green leaves under the brightly colored ones.
Now that you have picked out a good one, how can you
make it last? We recommend that you treat your plant
with tender loving care. Make sure that it doesn't get
placed in too hot of a spot, that it doesn't get in too
many drafts and keep it in bright non-direct sunlight.
You will also want to water it regularly without over
watering or having it set in water. Remember to remove
the decorative foil sleeve when you are watering it.
This is a bulb that has become a seasonal favorite. The
plants can be bought in bloom, or you can grow one from
the bulb itself with no problem. These are bulbs that
are normal summer bloomers. They are one of the seasonal
plants that people enjoy during the holidays, with
paperwhites being the other bulb, that have to be forced
into bloom. You can find the bulbs at your local garden
centers starting in late September and early October.
Buying them early ensures that you will have a bloom by
the holidays. You usually get just the bulb in the early
season and as we get closer to the holidays you will
find them ready to bloom or already in bloom. At Alís
Garden and Home, and other garden centers, they have
them as just a wax covered bulb. These are cool and
because all the energy for a bloom is in the bulb, you
donít need to water them.
Can you get them to return to bloom year after
year? Yes. When spring arrives, you can take it outside
and water it through the summer in an area with
afternoon shade. In late summer you can cut back the
water and then pot it up in early October, cut back the
leaves and wait for the blooms to return.
This plant is one that we love! There are many types of
late fall and winter blooming cactus and we wonít get
into the differences. This one is specifically sold in
garden centers as a Christmas cactus. We let ours bloom
during Christmas time and then keep it as a house plant
until spring. Once warm temperatures return ours go back
outside. When fall returns, and we are in the lower 40s,
we move ours back inside and enjoy the blooms that the
warm house brings. They also like moist, but
well-drained soil and an all-purpose fertilizer once a
month. All the cactus we saw were heat loving. They
donít handle the cold very well; in fact the growers
donít let their cactus grow in temperatures that are
below 55 degrees. The final tip? The number one enemy of
cactus is over-watering.
So next time you are decorating your home, take some
time and appreciate these wonderful holiday plants now
that you know a little more about some of their
meanings. You can find most of these at your local
independent garden center or nursery.
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