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Keep holiday plants happy and healthy

Nancy Brachey
The Charlotte Observer

A lot of plants come into our homes in December, and whether their stay is good or bad depends on you.

■ Place potted plants and your tree as far from heat sources as possible. If you have an unheated enclosed porch or sun room, that makes an ideal spot to store the potted plants overnight or even for the few days before a party. The cool nights will greatly extend the bloom life of the popular chrysanthemum and cyclamen plants. That is why florists and garden centers keep cut flowers and potted plants in very cool, but not freezing, conditions.

A drop in temperature at night is especially helpful because it puts the plant to rest.

If you have no sun room or enclosed porch, pots should go near a cool window, where the temperature will likely be lower than elsewhere in the room.

■ The second thing to think about is water. Make it lukewarm, especially for potted plants. Letting a Christmas tree dry out encourages needles to start dropping. Letting potted plants wilt causes yellow foliage, drooping stems and short-lived flowers.

But it is winter, and plants will not dry out as rapidly now as those do out in the summer sun. Just check them every other day.

■ The third thing is sunlight. A Christmas tree doesn’t require sunlight because it has no blooms to open. But flowering plants do, and sunlight through a window will bring out those buds nicely. It helps that window sills tend to be cooler spots than the interior of a room.