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Tips on Live Holiday Greens

Buy fresh evergreens and treat them for longevity 

     Wreaths, roping and swags sold in box and grocery stores may have been made in far-away Oregon and Maine, starting back in September, then stored in large coolers under high humidity. If the greens were harvested before the plants were exposed to freezing temperatures, they may well drop their needles before Christmas.
      Purchase local Christmas greens, on the other hand, and they are most likely freshly harvested and have acclimated under our growing conditions.
At home, you can extend their useful life by submerging wreaths, roping and swags in a tub of 100-degree water until the water has returned to ambient air temperature. Underwater, the foliage as well as the stems absorb water. Woody plants can only absorb a limited amount of water through the stem in a short period of time.
     After the foliage has dried, bring it in and allow an hour or so to reach room temperature.
     Then spray the dry foliage thoroughly, especially the underside of the leaves, with Wilt-Pruf, Foliar Gard, FoliarCoat or Clear Spray. All are anti-transpirants that temporarily seal the stomatas, the pores in the leaves that allow for the absorption of carbon dioxide and the release of oxygen, through photosynthesis, into the atmosphere. Most of the stomatas on evergreens are on the underside of the leaves. 
      These sprays make the foliage appear glossy. Don’t spray it on heavily, however, or the foliage looks milky. Wipe mistakes immediately with a soft tissue.
Poinsettias are not poisonous — Nor are they good to eat
      Starting in the mid 1970s, as a faculty member of the University of Maryland I made recordings distributed to all radio stations throughout the state clearly stating that poinsettia plants were not poisonous. Yet every year, I hear warnings to place poinsettia out of reach of children and pets because they are poisonous. 
      They are not.
      Toxicologists and faculty at Kansas State University proved this by feeding rats and mice grains mixed with varying levels of pulverized tissues from each part of the poinsettia. Fed 100 percent concentration of poinsettia, mice lost weight until they acquired a taste for poinsettia.
      I sympathize with the rodents. I have taken a bite from the base of a poinsettia stem and it is extremely bitter. I will never do it again.