Magazine article Sunset

Sunset's Checklist: December

Magazine article Sunset

Sunset's Checklist: December

Article excerpt

Planting

PROPAGATE HOUSE PLANTS. As house plants get leggy in winter's low light, you can cut off elongated stems and root them in water for potting up later. Try this with dracaena, Chinese evergreen, and philodendron.

Maintenance

CARE FOR GIFT PLANTS. If you plan to keep the azalea, cyclamen, kalanchoe, ornamental pepper, paper white narcissus, and other small gift plants that are so popular during the holidays, give them plenty of light, regular water and food (especially while they're blooming and setting fruit), and keep them out of drafts. Most plants will take poor conditions for a few days-as centerpieces in low-light places, for example-but give them optimal conditions again as soon as possible after the holidays.

CARE FOR LIVING CHRISTMAS TREES. While they're indoors, keep trees away from fireplaces and heater vents. Water regularly; for slow, cool, even irrigation, cover the soil surface with a layer of ice cubes. Take your tree to a sheltered place outside immediately after Christmas to let it acclimate. If it's well below freezing where you live, put the tree in a cool, light, and protected place (such as an unheated porch) until temperatures start rising above freezing every day. Then out it outside.

TEND TO INDOOR CACTUS. Allow spring-flowering indoor cactus to dry off from mid-December through February, then water and apply a weak solution of fertilizer every second watering. Keep your cactus in a bright spot to encourage bloom.

RECYCLE CUT CHRISTMAS TREES. Recycle your tree: grind it up for mulch or cut it into 2-foot lengths, stack it, and use it for firewood. …

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