Archive for December, 2006

Christmas Flowers & Greens – After the Holidays, Now What?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Christmas flowers and evergreens
Now that the holidays are over, here are a couple tips on what to do with those Christmas flowers and your Christmas tree, wreaths, garlands and other evergreen Christmas decorations.

Five Things to Do with Your Christmas Tree, Wreaths and Garlands

  1. Sink it in a pond or stream. Submerged Christmas trees make great habitat for fish. If you don’t have a body of water on your property, a local conservation group may pick up the tree and toss it into an appropriate pond or stream for you.

  2. Put it outside on your land. A Christmas tree can provide lodging for all kinds of birds, squirrels and other small animals. Once it starts to decompose, it can become a nursery to insects, fungi, even amphibians and reptiles.
  3. Protect your perennials. Wreaths, garland, and boughs cut from a Christmas tree can be placed over perennial beds to reduce frost damage to plants, as well as frost heaving caused by freezing and thawing. Saw up the trunk to create sturdy, homemade trellises or tomato stakes.
  4. Toss it into the woodstove. Use a few dry evergreen branches as kindling to start your fires.
  5. Mulch it. Many communities have tree recycling programs that turn everyone’s old trees into valuable garden mulch.

(Thanks to Mother Earth News)

Making Your Amaryllis Rebloom


amaryllis bulb kit

You don’t need to throw away your amaryllis bulb kit. Amaryllis is a perennial, so If you’d like to see your amaryllis plant bloom again, remove the blooms once they have faded, so the plant’s energy will go into the bulb rather than seed production. Continue to grow the amaryllis inside at a south-facing window for about four months (through April, say), until the weather warms enough to put it outside.

Next put your bulb outside, in an area sheltered from rain (or turn its put on its side so it won’t collect rainwater). This will trigger dormancy. Snip off the dead leaves and bring the plant inside in the Fall when temperatures fall below 50 degrees. Finally, water the bulb to break the spell of dormancy and initiate new growth, and place the plant in a bright light while continuing to water moderately. Once it starts to bloom, move it to a spot with less light to prolong the bloom time.

Valentine’s Flowers

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Hanukkah and Christmas are now behind us. Thanks for reading and commenting on my recent posts about holiday flowers, crafts and decorating. I hope everyone enjoyed the very best and most relaxing holiday season.

At Calyx Flowers we’ve assembled a nice collection of New Year’s flowers, plants, preserved floral arrangements and table centerpieces that make festive New Year’s party decorations.

The next really big floral occasion is Valentine’s Day. Over 180 million stems of roses will be cut and shipped for Valentine’s Day delivery. Valentine’s Day ranks as the number one holiday in the floral industry, capturing 35% of all holiday transactions. Valentine’s Day is also the number one holiday for your local florist, according to the Society of American Florists. The US market for flowers and plants was $19.5 billion in 2004, according to the US Department of Commerce.

As Valentine’s Day gift ideas, Calyx Flowers will offer designer bouquets with an emphasis on red rose bouquets, including the lavish 100 Roses Bouquet — over eight dozen red roses delivered in a magnificent Wine Chiller and accompanied by gourmet chocolate truffles!

There’s also the 50 Roses Bouquet. Or if you really want to make a powerful and lasting impression on your sweetheart, send Roses for a year — a bouquet of roses every month for a full twelve months!

Orchid & Tropical Grow Lights

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

A reader recently told us about a line of grow lights designed especially for orchids. These Wonderlite orchid grow lights are wide spectrum bulbs designed for orchids and other tropical plants that tend to perform poorly in standard home or office environments.

According to the manufacturer, its “spectral distribution” balances blue, red and far-red wavelengths in the visible light spectrum (440, 660 and 740 nanometers), providing more than 90% of plants’ requirements. The Wonderlite can be used in standard incandescent sockets, and is is available in two wattages: 160 or 300 watt. The 160 watt is usually placed 1-3 feet above plants, depending on the types of orchids being grown. The 300 watt is ideal for high-light demanding plants, like Vanda orchids, or high ceiling installations when the bulb must be placed further distances from plants.

How Flower Food Works

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Some visitors to the blog have asked me why flower food keeps cut flowers fresher longer.

This answer comes from Annie Bond, author of the book “Better Basics for the Home” (see link below):

The little packet of flower food are bactericides that kill the bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.

Here are tips of reaching this same goal without the chemicals:

  • Copper is a fungicide and acts to preserve the water from too many yeasts and fungi.
  • Aspirin is an acid and helps to kill bacteria overgrowth.
  • Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar to 1 quart of water. The idea here is the same as with aspirin, since lemon juice and vinegar are acidic.

That also explains why, when arranging bouquets, we remove all the leaves below the water line — so that submerged leaves don’t act as a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria and shorten the life of your blooms.

Flower Food Recipes: How to Make Your own Cut Flower Food

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Cut-flower bouquets bought from a flower delivery website or from your local florist will usually have powdered “flower food” to extend the life of your bouquet. But for wildflowers or flowers gathered from your garden, if you don’t have store-bought flower food on hand, you can make your own.

Warning: I have NOT tested these recipes, and it’s pretty hard to separate the folk-wisdom from the science. I would love to hear from others who have compared the various recipes. And if you have your own “secret recipe” that works, please add it to this blog as a Comment!

Flower Food Recipe (thanks to Kathryn M.)

1 teaspoon bleach
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 quart clean, room-temperature water

Recipe Using Copper Pennies & Aspirin (thanks to Mark M.)

a few copper pennies
a couple aspirin tablets
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 quart clean, room-temperature water

Tips On Ordering Flowers

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

1. Determine how much you want to spend.

Finding the perfect bouquet does not mean that you have to empty your wallet. Sometimes, it’s the simple arrangements that grab the most attention. A small arrangement of tulips is appropriate for any occasion and will add a sweet touch of spring to any room.

If expressing your undying love through flowers, no matter the cost, is important, then a large bouquet of roses will be sure to leave her breathless no matter the occasion.

2. Choose the appropriate flower for the person.

Certain flowers and plants require a little more care and attention than others, and depending on the person who will be receiving the flowers, you might want to gauge their expertise before choosing a flower.

For those with little flower experience, start with something small and simple. Flowers arranged in a small bouquetare always elegant and easy to care for. Just be sure to cut the bottom stems about a 1/2 inch under water. Fill a vase with warm water and place the bouquet in the vase, making sure the stems are submerged. Remember to change the water every couple of days to extend the life of your flowers.

A good florist will send care instructions with your order. Be sure to read the instructions because certain bouquets might require a few extra steps to ensure that they last longer.

3. Choose the appropriate flower for the occasion.

Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, a graduation, a birth or a holiday, there is sure to be the perfect flower for the occasion.

Roses are a traditional way to show love and appreciation. Gerbera daisies are a great, versatile flower that can be sent in celebration of a birthday, a new baby, or even just to brighten someone’s day. A nice plant makes a great house warming gift.

Keep in mind that some flowers will arrive in bloom and will just need some water, but other flowers or plants will arrive in bud and may take some additional time to bloom. Be sure to inquire which ones will arrive in bloom and which ones arrive in bud when you place your order.

4. Choose a Florist and order on time.

Today most online florists guarantee the freshness and quality of their flowers and plants. If you order from a “direct-from-the-grower” flower service, you cut the amount of time that the flowers spend in a delivery van or truck, which makes for fresher flowers. Or, visit your local florist, where you can personally check the bouquets for freshness.

It’s also wise not to wait until the last minute to order your flowers – - especially if you need fresh flowers to arrive on a Monday. For the sake of freshness, most online flower services do not ship flowers over the weekend.

5. Be sure someone will be there to receive the flowers.

Flowers and plants don’t stand up well to extreme temperatures. Be sure to send your flowers to an address where someone will be able to receive them and take them inside, remove from the packaging, and rehydrate. Over a year ago, Calyx & Corolla introduced its “Weather Wrap” packaging, an insulating layer of air to protect fresh cut flowers from freezing air in the winter or extreme, or wilting heat in summer. That extend’s a bouquet’s life considerably, but they still don’t want to be sitting on a doorstep for hours!

Plant and Flower Care Tips:

Plant Care

  1. Place your plant, orchid or bonsai in a dry area with sunlight and good air circulation.
  2. Check your plant daily, keeping it watered and properly drained which is very important.
  3. As flowers fade, pinch them off in order to encourage new blossoms.
  4. After blooming you may wish to plant or keep your gift outdoors in a sunny area (weather permitting).

Bouquet Care

  1. Fill a vase or container with warm water and add flower food as directed. We suggest a warm water temperature, as a flower does not readily absorb cold water. Hot water can shock the flower.
  2. Submerging them in fresh, warm water for 5 to 10 minutes can revive wilted flowers.
  3. Always cut stems (minimum of ½”) diagonally under water, which allows water to flow more readily through the stem. Begin arranging immediately.
  4. Most bouquets will fit nicely in a 6″- 8″ tall vase. Place flowers in vase or container and keep them out of direct sunlight and away from hot or cold drafts.
  5. Be patient. Buds will gradually open from the base of the stem in 2-4 days. Certain flowers bloom quicker than others do. A few upper buds may not open. Trimming blossoms and leaves encourages other blossoms to open and your bouquet will last longer.
  6. IMPORTANT! Add fresh water daily and recut stems every other day.
  7. To enjoy your flowers for the longest possible time, trim away or discard spent blossoms as your bouquet ages to allow the flowers to channel their energy correctly and rearrange if necessary.


Make Your Own Gifts This Christmas Season

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Sometimes it is more satisfying to give a gift that was crafted with your own hands rather than buying a manufactured item and trying to add a personal touch. You can create a few simple gifts that will be sure to impress with just a few supplies and a little of your time. You can even find some of the items suggested in your own home. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Embellished Candles

Embellishing plain pillar candles can make a wonderful personalized gift this Christmas season. Grab a cookie tray and line with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spread a thin layer of glue on the tray. Gently roll the candle in the glue until fully covered. Transfer to another foil-lined cookie sheet or plate and sprinkle glitter over the candle, making sure that all of the glue is hidden. Gently shake off the excess glitter and place the candle upright to dry. Once the glue has dried, you can then adorn the candle with beads, ribbon, evergreen twigs, birch bark or even some pressed poinsettia petals, adhered with glue. Wrap a ribbon around the circumference of the candle and nest in a matching gift box and you are sure to impress your special someone with a beautiful customized gift. You can also keep some of these candles for yourself. Place some poinsettia petals in the bottom of a hurricane glass and set the candle on top, or place some fresh greens on your tabletop and nestle the candle in the middle.

Pressing Flowers and Leaves

Pressed flowers have a delicate and beautiful appearance and can be used for a variety of crafts. All kinds of flowers can be used, as long as they are easy to flatten. Pressed flowers look elegant under glass in a frame, or scattered along a table runner. They also smell wonderful placed in a bowl as potpourri or posted on the bulletin board in your office.

*Make sure the flowers and leaves are dry and free of blemishes.
*Trim the stems close to the base.
*Place the flowers face down in a book.
*Place a rock or other heavy item on the top of the book and leave undisturbed for one week.
*Carefully open the book and gently remove the flower.

Pressed Flower Coasters

Send the gift of a customized set of coasters or keep them for yourself and dazzle your guests when you slip a poinsettia encased in glass under their wine glass. Any pressed flower or leaf works, but for the holiday season, a set of poinsettia coasters will look nice laid out on your coffee table.

Materials:

*Glass squares (2 for each coaster).
*Pressed flowers or leaves of your choice.
*Tweezers.
*Non-water-based clear-drying craft glue.
*Toothpick or small paintbrush.
*Binder clips.
*1/4-inch-wide silvered-copper-foil tape.
*Scissors.
*Pencil or ice pop stick.

Have a glazier cut 1/8-inch-thick glass into 3 1/2-inch squares, and sand the edges. Clean the glass plates and make sure to handle the glass on the edges, so as not to leave smudge marks. Dab a small amount of glue on the flower or leaf with a toothpick or paintbrush and position the flower or leaf on one of the plates of glass using your tweezer. Allow the glue to dry before placing the second plate of glass on top. Place the second plate of glass over the first one, align the two plates and clamp together with a couple binder clips. Place the end of the foil tape along an edge of the glass, and wrap the tape around the entire perimeter of the two glass plates. Overlap the ends slightly, then snip the tape with scissors. For a tight seal, rub the tape thoroughly until the edge is smooth, using the side of a pencil or ice pop stick as a burnishing tool. Never place your coasters in a dishwasher, or submerge in water.

Glitter Branches

Add a little shimmer to your winter bouquets with these sparkling glitter branches. Place just one, or many, depending on the size of your bouquet into your arrangement.

Brush a thin layer of white glue onto a branch found in your backyard or on a fake one purchased from a craft store. Sprinkle glitter until all of the branch is covered and gently shake off the excess. Carefully place on a set of newspapers and let it dry thoroughly.

Fireplace Sachets

Send the scent of Christmas on a journey throughout the house. Fill a 12-inch square piece of brown paper with dried orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and pine cones. Tie together with some twine and drop into your fireplace. As the pouch burns, the scents will be released.

Caring For Your Christmas Tree:

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

History Of The Christmas Tree

The idea of placing a live tree in the home and decorating it has been around for years and practiced by many cultures.

Over 1000 years ago, St. Boniface, a Christian missionary, came across a group of German Pagans worshipping an oak tree, claiming it was their deity. In anger, St. Boniface chopped down the oak tree exclaiming that his God was mightier than theirs. From the roots of the oak sprouted a young fir tree. Saint Boniface took this as a sign from God and began spreading his Christian faith around Germany. It wasn’t until the 16th century when fir trees were used for decorative purposes.

In the early 19th century, the custom of the Christmas tree became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts when Princess Henrietta von Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816. Since then, the custom of decorating a Christmas tree spread around the world and traditions have since evolved over the years. Boughs from fir trees are also used for other Christmas decorations including wreaths, garland, centerpieces and kissing balls.

Fresh Noble Fir TreeFresh Evergreen Wreath
Fresh Evergreen GarlandKissing Ball

Choosing A Christmas Tree

In picking out a Christmas tree, you should always perform a freshness test. Gently grasp and pull a branch toward you. In doing so, only a few green needles should fall. Next, gently shake the tree. Again, only a few green needles should drop. There should only be a small amount of brown needles, if any. In transporting your tree, make sure it is wrapped in either a plastic sheet or a blanket in order to protect the branches from the wind.

Before you begin decorating your tree, make sure you have a Christmas-tree stand that will hold enough water. There should be room for 1 quart of water for every inch in diameter of the tree’s trunk. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut about a 1/4 inch off the bottom of the trunk with your saw.

Within the first 24 hours of placing your tree in its stand, it can absorb up to 1 gallon of water, and 1 quart or more per day afterward. Be sure to keep a constant supply of water in the tree stand because if the tree runs dry, sap will leak out and create a seal over the bottom of the trunk. If you notice your tree has been dry for more than a few hours, you will need to cut the bottom of the trunk again.

Christmas Tree Tips

Remember to keep your tree away from direct heat and drafts. Never leave the lights on your tree plugged in if you have left your house and be sure to check the water daily.

Evergreen Tips

If you have a few cut boughs from your Christmas tree, instead of throwing them away, use them to accent your holiday floral arrangements or to plump up your Christmas wreath. In order to keep your greens fresh, mist daily with a water bottle and keep away from all direct heat sources.

Decorate with Tropical Holiday Flowers

Friday, December 8th, 2006


Tropical Holiday Flowers


The temperature is dropping and the snow is falling. While mother nature prepares for winter by coating herself with a warm blanket of snow, we begin preparing our homes for the winter season as well. We stock our porches full of wood to feed the fire, we fill our linen closets with blankets to keep us warm at night, and we put our slippers by our beds and dream of digging our feet into the warm sand on a tropical island. Bring your dreams to life by adding a touch of the tropics to your home. The vibrant reds and greens are sure to liven your senses and lighten your mood. Instead of decorating your home with the traditional holiday flowers, try for something different this year.


Red Ginger


Buy Hawaiian Holiday Bouquet OnlineDeck the halls with December’s flower of the month, Red Ginger. This native Malaysian plant makes a great accent to any bouquet or looks great alone, with it’s brightly colored red bracts. Red Ginger grows in many Central American regions as well as Hawaii, where the flower is extremely popular.

Flower Care:

Immediately remove all flowers and foliage from it’s packaging and soak in lukewarm water for about 10-15 minutes. Trim 1/2 – 1 inch off the stems and place in a vase with fresh water. Mist with water daily and keep them from direct breezes or sunlight. Every 2 – 3 days, re-trim the stems and replace the water.


Anthuriums


Buy Aloha Anthuriums OnlineAnthuriums come in a variety of colors and species, and grow in the most diverse habitats, mostly in the tropical mountainous regions of Central America and South America. They are also cultivated in Hawaii, where cuttings from the plant are used in floral arrangements for all occasions, including weddings. The shiny red flowers make a perfect accent to any home during this holiday season.

Flower Care:

Immediately remove all flowers and foliage from it’s packaging and soak in lukewarm water for about 10-15 minutes. Trim 1/2 – 1 inch off the stems and place in a vase with fresh water. Mist with water daily and keep them from direct breezes or sunlight. Every 2 – 3 days, re-trim the stems and replace the water.


Sago Palm Bonsai


Buy Sago Palm Bonsai OnlineThe Sago Palm is not a palm, but rather a Cycad, which is a plant that is very primitive in its origins, predating the dinosaurs. Often referred to as “living fossils,” Sago Palms have shown little evolution over the millions of years since their origin. In Japan, the Sago Palm is commonly used as a potted plant and is quite popular as a bonsai plant due to the fact that its size can be stunted depending on the size of the container it is grown in. These fascinating plants are relatively easy to care for and provide a small touch of the tropics year-round.

Plant Care:

Place the plant inside near a bright window. During the warmer months let the top 1/2 inch of soil dry out between waterings and in the cooler months, let the soil dry completely between waterings. Try to avoid overhead watering, as this may cause rot and possibly total decay of the plant.


Orchids


Buy Tropical Orchid Garden OnlineOrchids are the largest and most diverse of the flowering plant families with over 25,000 species. The long, elegant stems and delicate, personified flowers provide a simple, yet luxurious accent to any room in the home. Their beauty extends well beyond the holiday season and makes a wonderful christmas gift.

Plant Care:

Place the orchid where it will receive moderate light. This orchid does not like direct sunlight. It will do best with temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees. Keep orchid evenly moist, the roots should never be dry. Water once or twice a week, but be sure that the roots are not soggy. Take orchid out of basket or cachepot to water and drain. These plants like humidity between 40 -50%. Misting will help increase humidity. Fertilize once a month with a balanced orchid food at ½ strength.

Keeping Christmas Garlands Fresh

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

If you live in a climate that is cold during the winter holiday season, and you decorate with garlands outside of your house, you have little to worry about – - your Christmas garlands, Christmas wreaths and other seasonal evergreen decorations should remain fresh, green and fragrant.

But if you bring garlands inside, heat and low humidity can make life difficult for them. Before bringing the greenery inside, soak them in water overnight to rehydrate them.

To extend the freshness of your evergreen holiday decor – - and, importantly, to avoid the risk of fire – - never place fresh greenery near heat sources, such as space heaters, heater vents or sunny windows. Be careful of wreaths used on the front door, if there is a glass outer door that receives direct sunlight. Keep greenery away from candles and fireplaces. If you use lights near your green arrangements, make sure that they stay cool, and if outside, that they are rated for exterior use.

Check your decorations every couple of days for freshness. If greenery are becoming dry, either replace or remove the dry portions. Make sure to discard dry greenery away from the house or garage to prevent a further fire hazard.

Commercial sprays are available that can be used to provide some fire resistance. But your best bet is simply to keep them away from heat sources, and make sure that any Christmas wreaths, roping and garlands that you bring indoors are as fresh as possible. Check needles by bending them. They should be flexible and not break. and discard greenery that are shedding or that have brown, dry tips.