Caring for your festive plants

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Artificial and fibre-optic Christmas trees have become very popular but the traditional ‘live’ tree is still preferred by many. However, the drawback to the latter is needle-drop once brought into the dry and warm atmosphere indoors.

There are various types available but one in particular finding favour is the Nordmann fir, well known for its good needle-retaining properties and, of course, there is the traditional Norway spruce.

Whichever variety is chosen keep it outside in the cold as long as possible and, when brought indoors, try and keep away from radiators and open fires. If in a pot treat it as you would a pot plant - water it - and here’s a tip from Emma Emmerson of Woodside Garden Centre, Ancrum: adding a dash of vodka to the water helps keep the needles fresh!

Pot plants are one of the most popular gifts given and received at Christmas and top of the list is probably poinsettias. Coming in the more common red but also white and blush pink, the coloured tops of this plant are bracts, the actual flowers are small and insignificant in the centre.

Poinsettias like a warm room (unlike many plants) but what they don’t like is the cold or draughts and so can easily suffer just by getting them home. Have them well covered and in the outside cold air as little as possible. Avoid overwatering, keep cosy and this showy plant will decorate a room throughout the festive season both as a gift or for one’s own pleasure. However, it is more difficult to have a repeat ‘flowering’ as these plants have been grown under controlled light conditions to produce their colour at this time of year.

A pot of hyacinths is arguably the second most popular gift or personal purchase. They are usually available in pots of three or four bulbs and best with a flower spike just showing. When purchasing look for a pot where each of the bulbs are at the same growth stage, in that way the flowers will all be in colour at the same time. Try to avoid too warm a room for these, better a cooler one and this will keep the growth steady and sturdy. Once in full bloom the scent from a bowl of hyacinths can fill a room.

If you are still unsure what to buy then garden gift tokens are the answer and can be exchanged by the recipient for plants, tools or sundries of their choice.